Day One 2025 Idea Open Call: R&D, Innovation, and Competitiveness

REMOTE

In 2019, we came together with an idea to arm the next presidential administration in January 2020 with 100 implementation-ready policy proposals crowdsourced from the science, technology and innovation community. Not only was our call for ideas met with an overwhelming response, but along the way we honed a vision for policy entrepreneurship: how anyone can convert a merely promising idea into real movement.

Since 2020, we have helped a growing community of contributors develop promising policy ideas — an amazing number of which have already become policy. Together we have inspired over $2.6 billion in federal investment across key science and technology priorities, eight new cross-cutting federal initiatives, four executive actions, and more.

Now we sit on the verge of another Presidential election – and again FAS sees opportunity for meaningful, science-based policy innovations that can appeal to lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. That’s why we’re launching “Day One 2025” – and renewing the call for bold policy ideas, grounded in science and evidence, that can tackle the country’s biggest challenges and bring us closer to the prosperous, equitable and safe future that we all hope for.

For this new effort, FAS has identified five priority areas where ideas and action are most sorely needed: Energy and Environment, Government Capacity, R&D, Innovation and Competitiveness, Global Security, and Emerging Technologies and Artificial Intelligence.

Day One 2025 Idea Open Call: R&D, Innovation, and Competitiveness

Science, technology, and innovation policies are key to unlocking new frontiers of opportunity that drive economic growth, improve lives, and build a safer, more equitable and resilient world. We believe that this requires the public R&D ecosystem to be well-funded, open, inclusive of and accessible to all people, eager to experiment, and willing to rigorously evaluate itself and correct course when evidence points to this not being the case. FAS seeks policy ideas that support a dynamic and strategic R&D enterprise, emphasize a geographically diverse approach to innovation, embed equity within innovation frameworks, and encourage public participation. These policies are key to ensuring that social, economic, and environmental prosperity resulting from scientific advances are broadly and equitably shared across all people and regions of the United States.

R&D Enterprise

The health of the U.S. science, technology, and innovation enterprise depends greatly on our ability to identify and pursue next generation capabilities that will transform the innovation landscape. Our priority questions are:

  • What are the next strategic sectors we should target for maximum return?

  • What additional policies should we consider in the continued development of domestic semiconductor and advanced manufacturing capabilities, aka “CHIPS 2.0”?

  • What lessons have we learned from CHIPS that can inform the next major legislative actions?

  • What are new research initiatives that can meet the moment? 

  • What are strategic priorities that will characterize the next CHIPS-level R&D spend?

Metascience

In an era of constrained R&D budgets and political uncertainty, it is critical to explore innovative strategies that could maximize the efficiency and productivity of our existing R&D investments. Experimentation that increased the effectiveness of existing R&D spending could unlock large returns to science and technology. Our priority questions are:

  • How can we develop more targeted experimentation and evaluation to understand what works in science policy? How can we incentivize experimentation with innovative and efficient approaches to assessing/funding science?

  • What are the most effective mechanisms to open up the scientific enterprise to bring the benefits of our R&D investments to a wider and more diverse community?

  • What are steps we can take to increase the return on investment of the R&D enterprise?

Equitable Innovation

Good ideas can come from anywhere, but without an equitable, systemic approach to how we identify, develop, and propagate these ideas, we stifle our ability to provide the best solutions that benefit everyone in our nation. Our priority questions are:

  • How do we decide what technologies and research would benefit communities?

  • How do we do research in a way that best serves the public interest?

  • How do we give expansive credit to all developers of R&D?

  • How do we ensure that research and technology scale to benefit the public?

  • How do we measure the benefits of public engagement to R&D output?

Health Equity

Despite significant advances in healthcare and medicine, many communities and demographics are still left out of the health research space. In particular, women’s health research is lagging behind and in need of significant investment and focus. Ideas that leverage existing technologies and better evaluate efficacy can provide insight with minimal additional investment. Our priority questions are:

  • What infrastructure is needed to support innovators accelerating women’s health? How can federal investment address the technology “valley of death” for femtech?

  • What are opportunities and risks to leverage emerging technologies (AI, wearables, digital health) to accelerate progress on women’s health innovation? 

  • How can federal agencies collaborate directly with women’s health experts and patients to design and shape research agendas?

  • How can we best leverage the voices of the public and patients to articulate research agendas, set funding priorities, and evaluate research progress?

  • How can the federal government create a cohesive system for drug repurposing and relabeling to lower costs and accelerate better healthcare outcomes?

  • How do we better evaluate how healthcare R&D leads directly to better outcomes?

Space Policy

As the number of space-faring nations increases, it is imperative the U.S. remain a leader in shaping the norms of civil and commercial space to ensure peaceful, democratic, and accessible use of space. Our priority questions are:

  • How does the U.S. strengthen international partnerships in a time when more countries are or seek to become space-faring nations?

  • What should the next generation low earth orbit laboratory look like?

  • How can the U.S. constitute and optimally use Science Envoys to advance democratic and open use of space?

  • How do we balance the benefits of increased commercial uses of space (e.g. expanded broadband internet) with the governance necessary to protect the sustainable use of low earth orbit?

  • What would a new outer space treaty look like?

Tech Commercialization

The innovation ecosystem of the future will require efficient transfer of new products and designs to market, as well as policies that incentivize and attract entrepreneurs to pursue potential opportunities that may have potential for tech transfer. Our priority questions are:

  • What models have been successful for research translation that we should replicate?

  • How do we accelerate the deployment of emerging technologies through commercialization?

  • How do we equip national laboratories to increase local economic engagement and tech commercialization?

  • What are the analyses, models, and tools to better understand, inform, and communicate strategic American technology deployment domestically and internationally?

Bio R&D/Bioeconomy

Bio R&D is the largest segment of the R&D enterprise, so ensuring that these federal research activities are best maximizing that investment will have a significant impact on our global competitiveness. Additionally, harnessing biotechnology to boost the bioeconomy will unlock new opportunities for innovation, cleaner energy, and a more resilient supply chain. Our priority questions include:

  • Which R&D models could be best harnessed for bioeconomy? What areas within the bioeconomy should be prioritized?

  • How can we ensure that biotech has proper regulation and controls without stifling innovation?

  • How can biotech standards be applied across different sectors (e.g., biomanufacturing, scale-up, tech transfer, etc)?

  • How can we enable ethical, safe, and equitable co-generation and translation of biotechnology products?

Supply Chain Resilience

A modern, resilient supply chain is critical to U.S. global competitiveness. Significant vulnerabilities were identified and keenly felt during the COVID-19 pandemic, and must be addressed immediately. This includes threat mitigation related to vulnerabilities in physical infrastructure, marketplace demands, and climate impacts. Our priority questions include:

  • How do we identify security vulnerabilities at U.S. seaports and develop concrete and actionable solutions to mitigate threats to the U.S. supply chain?

  • How do we rebuild supply chains to support reshoring of advanced manufacturing capability in key tech sectors?

  • How might supply chain vulnerabilities impact the fiscal responsibility of the federal government?

  • How do we anticipate future climate risk to impact critical supply chains? And how do we intentionally use climate resilience and innovation to secure supply chains?

  • And, how can we mitigate these risks to ensure reliable supply chains for future Americans? 

  • What role does biomanufacturing play in securing the supply chain?

    • What supply chain variables are necessary to make resilient in order to support national biomanufacturing?

Educating and Developing S&T Talent

In order for the U.S. to remain globally competitive, we must fully engage the people, places, and processes that will position us for success. That means finding, educating, training, upskilling, reskilling, recruiting, and advancing our domestic talent, while also attracting the best global thinkers into our workforce with smart and straightforward immigration policy, specifically for high skilled workers. Our priority questions are:

  • What are federal policy ideas for improving the teaching and learning experience so that schools and classrooms are places where students and adults can thrive? This could include a focus on teacher preparation, professional learning and/or teaching models that support teacher retention and impact.  This could also include developing, researching or scaling models that support student success. 

  • What policies can be put in place to accelerate S&T preparation in the highest need areas, like urban and rural settings?

  • How could the Dept of Education develop additional infrastructure to prioritize and support STEM learning across the country? 

  • How can teachers and students be equipped to use, direct, and develop AI that benefits their learning?

  • How do federal laboratories and federally funded institutions develop AI training for scientists and protocols governing their appropriate use?

  • How can we develop a strong workforce in bioeconomy, space, AI and other strategic sectors of the future?

  • What underutilized levers would enhance high-skill immigration policy for attracting top talent?

Regional Innovation

In addition to cultivating and equipping the right talent, we must also consider the processes and components that will help us to succeed in any sector of science, technology, and innovation. These building blocks to our future will require regional investment in innovation, advanced manufacturing and product development. Our priority questions are:

  • Where can we seed regional innovation and how can we ensure that those communities are receiving the unique support they need?

  • What are the attributes of and funding necessary to help transform post-industrial communities into technological engines of innovation?

  • How can the federal government support the growth of entrepreneurship across all regions as a means to innovation?

  • How can we make regional economies that are particularly vulnerable to industrial transitions and other shocks more resilient?

  • How do we incentivize the use of sustainable microbioeconomies to spur a new wave of regional innovation?

Want to contribute an idea focused on R&D, Innovation, and Competitiveness? Apply below.