WASHINGTON, DC – Today, President Biden signed the Creating Helpful Incentives for the Production of Semiconductors (CHIPS) for America Act (HR 4346), known as ‘CHIPS-Plus.’  This new law will boost U.S. computer chip manufacturing and reduce U.S. reliance on foreign-made semiconductors.  It also authorizes significant investments in scientific research and development initiatives and will boost Rhode Island’s innovation and scientific research ecosystem thanks to language added by U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI).

To encourage homegrown computer chip manufacturing in the U.S., create good-paying America jobs, and address supply chain vulnerabilities in these critical technologies, the CHIPS-Plus package allocates $52 billion for semiconductor research, design, and manufacturing.  It authorizes federal workforce development funds to train more American workers in the in-demand skills needed to build semiconductor chips.  And it includes language that would prevent companies that receive a share of the $52 billion in funding from using that money on stock buybacks or paying stock dividends to shareholders. 

“Semiconductor chip manufacturing is a strategic imperative.  This bill will strengthen America's chip-making supply chain and help stabilize our economy and make it more resistant to future chip shortages, while also investing in high-tech research and scientific breakthroughs.  A strong, resilient, domestic semiconductor manufacturing ecosystem is critical to America’s national security, economic security, and global stability,” said Senator Reed

The bill also includes nearly $100 billion in authorizations over five years – subject to appropriations -- for programs to bolster the National Science Foundation’s work, establish regional technology hubs under the U.S. Department of Commerce, and focus on translating research breakthroughs into real-world commercial applications and products.

To help bring new, high-tech, science-related jobs to Rhode Island, Senator Reed led efforts to include language in the CHIPS-Plus package to bolster the Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR).  EPSCoR is a critical research and development program that’s designed to help states traditionally underfunded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) compete for research dollars by providing money to improve infrastructure and capacity.

“Investing in innovation today will bring more federal R&D funding and jobs home to Rhode Island in the near future.  It will strengthen Rhode Island’s research ecosystem, and fund cutting-edge, breakthrough research that can lead to new discoveries and products.  Without this EPSCoR language, it’s possible our state would lose out on millions of dollars,” said Senator Reed.  “I want Rhode Island to serve as a launching pad for new ideas, innovations, and technologies.  This bill invests in helping Rhode Island-based researchers working across a variety of fields develop and commercialize technological breakthroughs.”

Specifically, the Reed-backed language in the bill will quadruple the amount of funding authorized for Department of Energy (DOE) EPSCoR over 5 years, while also increasing by fivefold the percent of the DOE research budget that goes to EPSCoR.  The bill will also boost EPSCoR funding up from 12.5 percent to 20 percent of the NSF research budget over seven years.  And it would also require at least 20 percent of NSF scholarship funding goes to EPSCoR institutions by 2025.  These provisions are estimated to bring an additional $1.8 billion in competitive funding to EPSCoR states over that period.

The University of Rhode Island and Brown University are expected to receive the bulk of EPSCoR research dollars in Rhode Island and the universities work collaboratively with businesses and other researchers on a variety of programs, including marine, energy, and coastal research projects.  Since EPSCoR launched in Rhode Island in 2004, $88 million has been directed to the state for cutting-edge collaborative research projects. 

“EPSCoR provides critical support for the University of Rhode Island, the state’s public flagship research university, and our mission to advance research that drives innovation locally and globally,” said URI President Marc Parlange. "We are grateful for Senator Reed’s leadership in securing historic funding for this program in the CHIPS-Plus Act. EPSCoR-funded research is addressing pressing societal challenges, including developing new approaches to assess, predict, and respond to the effects of climate change on coastal ecosystems, while supporting workforce and career development. This increased investment in EPSCoR will bolster URI's ability to continue to conduct collaborative, translational research that helps all Rhode Islanders.”

Jill Pipher, vice president for research at Brown University, said EPSCoR funding has been instrumental in enabling research at Brown on leading-edge technologies, conducted in collaboration with the University of Rhode Island, Rhode Island College and other academic partners.

One Brown research team continues to make discoveries about an emerging clean energy technology — the use of perovskites, a class of materials that will be the backbone of next-generation solar cells. Another is advancing understanding of the materials that will be the foundation of quantum computers, which may one day solve complex challenges that even today’s most powerful supercomputers cannot. A third is developing new ways to detect and predict the environmental impacts of climate change on Narragansett Bay’s coastal ecosystems.

“EPSCoR has been a driving force in Rhode Island’s ability to serve as a home for groundbreaking research, and the program’s investments in emerging science come with real, concrete benefits for the state and its residents,” Pipher said. “These kinds of technologies offer the potential to create jobs, attract new companies and position Rhode Island as among the most competitive states in regard to scientific and economic innovation. And for Brown, EPSCoR continues to be a key source of funding for research that will ultimately make a positive impact on many of the most pressing challenges facing our state and the world beyond. Brown University is grateful for Senator Reed’s continued leadership and support of the EPSCoR programs that do so much for Rhode Island.”

The breakdown of five-year funding authorizations to bolster U.S. scientific research, includes $81 billion for the National Science Foundation; $11 billion for programs at the U.S. Commerce Department; and $10 billion for the National Institute of Standards and Technology.  The measure also authorizes nearly $68 billion for programs at the U.S. Department of Energy.

The CHIPS-Plus package was approved by the U.S. Senate on a 64-33 vote, and by the U.S. House of Representatives on a vote of 243-187.

Highlights of the science portion of the bill include:

  • $20 billion over five years to spur NSF’s focus on ‘translational science’ in key areas.  Translational science is about the process of turning ideas in a lab into products and solutions for the public. The 10 key technology areas the new law specifies are: Artificial Intelligence; High-Performance Computing; Quantum Technology; Advanced Manufacturing; Disaster Prevention; Advanced Communications; Cybersecurity; Biotech; Advanced Energy-Efficiency; and Material Science.
  • $16.5 billion in newly authorized funding over five years for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to conduct applied research and development in the ten key technology areas of the bill.  For the first time, the bill provides a $50.3 billion over five-year reauthorization of the Office of Science at DOE, increasing its stability and long-term vision into the future of basic research (usually the Office of Science receives one-year authorizations).
  • $13 billion over five years in STEM education funding at the NSFThis funding can be used for scholarships, fellowships and traineeships, and for competitive awards to universities to expand STEM education capacity.  The bill additionally directs the NSF to increase STEM education opportunities for women, minorities, and tribal communities, directing billions of dollars to minority-serving institutions and other emerging research institutions around the country with a proven track record of helping grow a diverse workforce.
  • $10 billion over five years for a new grant program at the U.S. Department of Commerce to build 20 new regional technology hubs to accelerate important technology development by encouraging collaboration between university research centers, businesses, labor and economic development organizations. Funds may be used to accelerate commercialization of key U.S. competitive technologies, workforce development, and entrepreneurial training.
  • $2.25 billion to boost authorized funding over five years for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), a program that helps small- and medium-sized manufacturers improve their competitiveness with training on supply chain management, cybersecurity, workforce shortages, and job training problems.