The Biden Administration today proposed in its $2 trillion American Jobs Plan to invest upwards of $90 billion in Federal government-directed research and development (R&D) spending in a host of technology areas including AI.

In total, the plan calls for $180 billion of new R&D-related spending.

NSF Tech Directorate

On the Federal front, the plan proposes $50 billion of funding to the National Science Foundation (NSF) to create a “technology directorate” that will collaborate with and build on existing Federal government research and development (R&D) programs.

The plan’s target areas for more government-directed R&D spending include “fields like semiconductors and advanced computing, advanced communications technology, advanced energy technologies, and biotechnology,” the White House said.

“U.S. leadership in new technologies – from artificial intelligence to biotechnology and computing – is critical to both our future economic competitiveness and our national security,” said the White House, which emphasized that it aims to “upgrade America’s research infrastructure” to advance the goal of securing leadership in critical technologies.

Federal Labs, HBCU Focus

The plan’s R&D agenda also would pump $40 billion into Federal R&D agencies including the Department of Energy (DoE).  The funding would aim to upgrade research infrastructure “in laboratories across the country, including brick-and-mortar facilities and computing capabilities and networks,” the White House said.

A portion of that funding would go to Historically Black College and Universities (HBCUs) and other minority-serving institutions (MSIs) and would include the creation of a new national lab focused on climate and affiliated with an HBCU.

The plan calls for a $10 billion R&D investment at HBCUs and other MSIs, and a $15 billion investment to create up to 200 “centers of excellence that serve as research incubators at HBCUs and other MSIs to provide graduate fellowships and other opportunities for underserved populations, including through pre-college programs,” the White House said.

“Persistent inequities in access to R&D dollars and to careers in innovation industries prevent [sic] the U.S. economy from reaching its full potential,” the plan states.

The R&D plan also features proposals for:

  • $30 billion of R&D funding to spur “innovation and job creation, including in rural areas”;
  • $35 billion of spending on “the full range of solutions needed to achieve technology breakthroughs that will address the climate crisis and position America as the global leader in clean energy technology and clean energy jobs”; and
  • $30 billion of funding over four years to protect the United States from the impact of future pandemics by investing in medical R&D, medical countermeasures, and biosecurity and preparedness.

“Public investments in R&D lay the foundation for the future breakthroughs that over time yield new businesses, new jobs, and more exports,” the White House said. “However, we need more investment if we want to maintain our economic edge in today’s global economy.”

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John Curran
John Curran
John Curran is MeriTalk's Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.