|Volume 1: No. 04|
Ann Reid (Teleos) asked me about proposal funding at NIST, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (formerly NBS). I said that I didn't know of any such activity, and that NIST's main role was coordination of industry groups that are trying to establish standards. NIST also does some in-house research, especially when they can get industry support.
Alfred Rosenblatt's article in The Institute (May/June '91) shows that I was wrong. The Commerce Department has been using NIST as their channel for Advanced Technology Program grants. Last year's competition for $9M produced 249 proposals and 11 winners (five consortia, six independent companies). Communication Intelligence Corp. (Menlo Park) won $671,000 to develop a user-independent handwriting recognition system; other awards were all related to hardware, optics, and device physics.
This year's late-spring competition will be for $39.5M. If NIST has the same experience as NSF, few of this year's proposals will be recycled. This is foolish. The cream has been skimmed, so the second-rank proposals will be the best that remain eligible -- especially since the proposers have had an additional year to prepare. The judges will also be different, and the tendency will be to make awards in different areas from those that won the first time around. So, if you're working on a precompetitive technology of U.S. commercial importance, get in there and compete!