WASHINGTON — A high-tech research program that has steered $70 million to developing polymer composites since 1993 will focus more on small businesses and projects not funded by the private sector, federal officials announced.
The Commerce Department's review of the Advanced Technology Program comes as some Republicans renew their charge that its grants amount to corporate welfare, and recommend that its funding be cut back.
The review, released July 10, said the program already funds much research that otherwise would not be done. It answered criticism by noting that administrators will beef up links with venture capitalists to ``ensure that ATP will not fund projects that could be funded privately.''
The review was commissioned by U.S. Commerce Secretary William Daley in March. It also recommended that the program put more emphasis on joint ventures and rely less on individual applications from larger companies, require those large companies to pay more of the cost of their research and boost participation from state programs to help bring research to market more quickly.
One composites trade association that historically has been very active in ATP, the Suppliers of Advanced Composite Materials Association in Arlington, Va., is paying much less attention now.
Bill Werst, executive director of SACMA, said markets for aerospace and sporting goods have picked up and its member companies are no longer very interested in government funding of research.