NSF director calls for more funding to spur US innovation


February 18, 2015

Scientists know more about the entire universe and galaxy than they do the brain, which is why the National Science Foundation (NSF) wants to sink $144 million into understanding the most complex organ in the human body.

That amount represents the single largest expenditure in the NSF’s Administration Budget Request for Fiscal Year 2016, which calls for $7.72 billion, an increase of nearly $380 million over the 2015 appropriation. France A. Cordova giving a lecture Download Full Image

“There are a lot of technologies out there, and we are on the verge of a lot of breakthroughs regarding the brain,” said NSF director France A. Cordova. “NSF-funded researchers are using new imaging techniques that will create a better understanding of the brain; enable engineered solutions that replace or compensate for lost function and lead to technologies that will lead to smarter technologies that will enhance overall quality of life.”

Cordova presented the proposed budget, which must first meet congressional approval, to a room filled with approximately 75 scientists, researchers and educators at Arizona State University’s Marston Theater on Feb. 18. Her visit to ASU is part of a national tour of research facilities the NSF funds with grant money.

According to Sethuraman “Panch” Panchanathan, senior vice president of the Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development, the NSF has invested approximately $53 million in research grants at ASU. Cordova singled out a STEM-based grant housed at ASU called “CompuGirls,” which helps girls aged eight to 12 years from under-resourced schools in the Greater Phoenix area to develop technical skills and learn computational thinking.

“It will be to our detriment if we don’t engage more women and minorities in the field of STEM research,” Cordova said. “We aren’t moving the needle as fast as we’d like. We need to find ways to broaden our participation and look at this in a different light than in the past.”

In addition to understanding the brain, the NSF will invest $75 million in the ever-growing stresses on the critical resources of food, energy and water, and $58 million in research funding that addresses the nation’s need for resilience in response to man-made and natural disasters.

“The need for such research was dramatically demonstrated in October 2012 when Hurricane Sandy devastated large swaths of coastal New York and New Jersey – and making it the costliest storm in U.S. history,” Cordova said.

Cordova said in 2014, the NSF received about 48,000 proposals and resulted in funding about 11,000 awards. All told, the NSF provides 24 percent of total federal support of academic basic research in all science and engineering fields in the United States, and approximately 2,000 U.S. college, universities and other institutions.

“Our motto is: where discoveries begin,” Cordova said. “The NSF invests in the early ideas, the proof of concept, the first discovery. That knowledge can then be used later on to make it something bigger.”

Cordova said the NSF has funded 214 Nobel Prize Winners in the past, resulting in breakthroughs in the fields of molecular chemistry, astronomy, economics and physics. She ended her presentation by imploring audience members to advocate to the legislature the need for research funding.

“Investments in learning and discovery will grow our economy, sustain our global competitiveness and enable America to remain the world leader in innovation,” Cordova said. “If we don’t continue to invest in science, we’re going to yield our lead to other countries, which are on an upward slope.”

Reporter , ASU Now

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ASU Launch Day Downtown to inspire student entrepreneurship


February 18, 2015

To help kick off Startup Week Phoenix, a celebration of the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the greater Phoenix metro area, Arizona State University is hosting ASU Launch Day Downtown on Feb. 23.

Held at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication on ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus, Launch Day Downtown is part of ASU's efforts to foster a wider conversation regarding entrepreneurship and innovation within the university and local community. The event is hosted by ASU's Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation. ASU Launch Day Download Full Image

Startup Week Phoenix takes place Feb. 23-27. Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton and Councilman Daniel Valenzuela will commence the startup week festivities at 9 a.m., Feb. 23, at Chase Basecamp on Monroe Street in downtown Phoenix.

The concept of ASU Launch Days was started by the Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation this spring. These daylong celebrations of student entrepreneurship are held on every ASU campus each semester to showcase entrepreneurship programs available to students and faculty at the university. The goal is to encourage students to participate in the ASU Incubator, apply for the Edson Student Entrepreneur Initiative and take advantage of events and programs that help students scale their ideas into successful ventures.

The first ASU Launch Day was held Feb. 5 in Tempe and introduced more than 4,000 students to entrepreneurship programs and opportunities available on the Tempe campus.

Some of the events that will take place as part of ASU Launch Day Downtown include:

Entrepreneurship Open House
9:30 a.m.-1 p.m., Cronkite building Forum, room 215, Downtown Phoenix campus

Staff members from ASU’s Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation and students from the Edson Student Entrepreneur Initiative will be tabling in the forum space to showcase student ventures; hand out t-shirts and notebooks to raise awareness of entrepreneurship services and programs at ASU; and provide one-on-one mentoring to any student who stops by to learn more about how to engage with entrepreneurship at ASU.

Open Pitch
11 a.m.-12:15 p.m. Cronkite building theater, room 202, Downtown Phoenix campus

Students with ideas for ventures or with operating startups will pitch their idea to a panel of faculty and staff from the Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Winning teams will win up to $5,000 to advance their ventures and may be invited to join the ASU Incubator. Sign up to pitch at http://sched.co/2L1f.

Panel Discussion on women in entrepreneurship
12:15-1 p.m. Cronkite building theater, room 202, Downtown Phoenix campus

Mitzi Montoya, vice president and university dean of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at ASU, will join moderator Hayley Ringle from Phoenix Business Journal and a panel of influential Valley thought leaders to raise awareness about opportunities for women at ASU and to brainstorm Valley-wide solutions that support women entrepreneurs. RSVP for the panel discussion at http://sched.co/2I23

For more information regarding ASU Launch Day Downtown, go here. To find out more about ASU’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation programs, visit entrepreneurship.asu.edu.

Media projects manager, Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development