U.S. Senators Todd Young (R-Ind.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.), and Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) introduced a bill to establish a nonprofit foundation that would leverage private funding and bolster public-private collaboration to promote U.S. technological innovation and industrial competitiveness in support of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

The Expanding Partnerships for Innovation and Competitiveness (EPIC) Act would establish a foundation to help NIST achieve its mission of promoting “U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness by advancing measurement science, standards, and technology in ways that enhance economic security and improve our quality of life.” Similar foundations established to support the Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Department of Energy, and other federal agencies have averaged a return of $67 for every $1 in federal contributions.

“Maintaining and encouraging research and development in the U.S. is critical to winning the technological race against China and other adversaries,” said Senator Young. “Our bipartisan legislation will support these efforts by establishing an independent foundation to identify and foster innovative public-private partnerships across the country and strengthen the American economy.”

“NIST plays a critical role in ensuring American leadership in science and technology,” said Senator Coons. “The EPIC Act, by establishing a nonprofit foundation to support NIST, would fuel public-private partnerships and mobilize resources to support U.S. leadership on emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, biotech, and quantum computing.  This bipartisan, bicameral bill already has widespread support, and I encourage my colleagues to sign on.”

“Whether it’s AI or quantum computing, the United States is pushing the boundaries of technological innovation on all fronts,” said Senator Hickenlooper. “There are no second chances with technologies this powerful; NIST needs every tool at its disposal to ensure responsible R&D from the start.”

“America should leverage every possible resource to stay ahead of adversaries like China,” said Senator Fischer. “Our bill will encourage public-private collaboration to keep the United States at the forefront of emerging technologies, including AI, cybersecurity, advanced computing, and more. A bipartisan coalition in Congress recognizes the need for our legislation, and I look forward to advancing the EPIC Act in the Senate.”

Specifically, the EPIC Act would establish a nonprofit Foundation for Standards and Metrology, enabling NIST to:

  1. Mobilize private and philanthropic funding to support critical scientific and technical initiatives.
  2. Collaborate more closely with the private sector, nonprofit organizations, and institutions of higher education.
  3. Train the emerging technology workforce of the future and retain top at the agency.

The EPIC Act is endorsed by four former Directors of NIST, SEMI Americas, Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA), NIST Coalition, SPIE, SeedAI, Institute for Progress, Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), Center for AI Policy, Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA), Institute for AI Policy and Strategy, Americans for Responsible Innovation, Chainguard, CJW Quantum Consulting LLC CEO, American Physical Society, ACT | The App Association, CivAI, SandboxAQ, American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), and Google.

U.S. Representatives Haley Stevens (D-MI-11) and Jay Obernolte (R-CA-23) introduced a companion bill in the House of Representatives, and the bill was cleared unanimously by the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee.

Full text of the bill is available here. A one-pager about the bill is available here.