Innovation funding gets the ax

John Dimsdale May 18, 2012

Jeremy Hobson: Now to Washington, where lawmakers are debating a $642 billion defense spending bill. And one thing that will not be in it is the $45 million Technology Innovation Program.

Our Washington bureau chief John Dimsdale reports that’ll put some emerging technologies on hold.

John Dimsdale: The Technology Innovation Program, or TIP, gave cash to researchers who were developing promising, but still unproven, technologies. One recipient was testing electronic light pulses that could find cracks in concrete or stone.

Vint Cerf was one of TIP’s advisors.

Vint Cerf:  Bridges, buildings, highways and things like that, which as we know over time disintegrate just because of use.

Cerf knows government money can be necessary to bring new technologies to market. He helped start the Internet, which got 20 years of federal support before it was a commercial success.

Cerf: I regret to see this program go away. I think we should have more programs like that.

But saving TIP’s $45 million every year won’t solve trillion-dollar deficits, says the Concord Coalition’s Robert Bixby.

Robert Bixby: While this may give the appearance of tough budget medicine and making hard choices, it really is not getting at the heart of the problem.

To do that, Bixby says Congress has to deal with entitlement programs, like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

In Washington, I’m John Dimsdale for Marketplace.

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