A report released Feb. 7, 2012, by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Visiting Committee on Advanced Technology (VCAT) endorses a proposed public-private program, the Advanced Manufacturing Technology Consortia (AMTech), as a valuable addition to NIST’s portfolio for supporting technological innovation and facilitating its deployment to support advanced manufacturing.

AMTech is designed to fill a critical funding gap for early-stage technology development by providing incentives and resources for the formation of industry-led consortia. The consortia would support basic and applied research on long-term, precompetitive and enabling technology development. They would also create the infrastructure necessary for more efficient transfer of technology by bringing together key players across the entire innovation lifecycle.

AMTech was first proposed in NIST’s Fiscal Year 2012 budget request, released in February 2011 (although it was not included in the appropriation bill passed Nov. 17, 2011). In June of that year, Under Secretary of Commerce for Science and Technology and NIST Director Patrick Gallagher asked the VCAT to provide recommendations on how NIST can best support advanced manufacturing in the United States.

The full VCAT approved the final report’s recommendations, which “are intended to strengthen the AMTech program and ensure that its benefits to the competitiveness of the U. S. industry be maximized.”

Among several recommendations, the committee suggests that the industry-led consortia include broad participation by universities and government agencies and that small firms be encouraged to participate. The report also includes recommended evaluation criteria for the program itself, proposals seeking its funding and for measuring the performance of award recipients.

The report is available at http://www.nist.gov/director/vcat/upload/VCAT-Mfg-Summary-Recommendations.pdf.

The VCAT was established by Congress in 1988 to review and make recommendations on NIST’s policies, organization, budget and programs. More information on the VCAT can be found athttp://www.nist.gov/director/vcat/index.cfm.