Note: The following is Sen. Roger Wicker’s Weekly Report and is provided by the Senator’s office.
New Technologies Made in Mississippi Can Beat China
As Americans, we are fortunate to live in the most innovative country on earth. It was Americans who invented the airplane, the microwave, the cell phone, the computer, and the internet. These and other inventions dramatically improved daily life and created millions of jobs. Today America is still the best place on earth to create new technology, but China is working hard to surpass us so that they can become the world’s leading superpower. We cannot let this happen. As we work to stay ahead of China, Mississippi has a key role to play in charting the future.
Mississippi has outstanding research facilities that are paving the way for new technologies. Our researchers are working on ideas that could lead to new medicines, weather tracking systems, military hardware, and more. Many of these projects need outside support to come to fruition. They also need protection against Chinese espionage, which too often has resulted in research being stolen. I am committed to making sure Mississippi’s groundbreaking ideas receive the support and protection they need.
National Science Foundation Hosts Mississippi Event
Last month, I helped coordinate a gathering of over 350 researchers, students, and administrators on the campus of Mississippi State University. These individuals came from 12 colleges and universities all over Mississippi. The event, known as “NSF Day,” was facilitated by the National Science Foundation, a federal agency that supports research on U.S. campuses. As an initiator of the event, I was able to bring in 20 NSF program managers to help train our researchers in how to submit award-winning proposals. The insights gained from this event will benefit Mississippi STEM students for years to come. I had the chance to meet with three of these students who have already received NSF awards. The projects they are working on could improve the way solar energy is stored and lead to enhanced farming practices.
The National Science Foundation has a long history of helping great inventions move from conception to reality. The internet, the MRI machine, and the COVID PCR test, for example, were all developed with support from the NSF. Today, the agency is giving extra focus to helping researchers move their ideas from the lab to the marketplace, creating new products that use artificial intelligence, robotics, and advanced communications. Mississippi excels in these areas, and I am confident we will play a growing role in national efforts to develop these technologies and outcompete China.
Protecting American Ideas from China
China has become notorious for stealing American research and trade secrets. Beijing’s shameless record of theft over many years has allowed them to leapfrog forward in many technologies without spending a dime on research. As a result, the Chinese Air Force now flies fifth-generation fighters, Chinese drug companies sell knock-off American medicines, and pirated software is rampant. Members of both political parties recognize that this theft cannot continue. Both government and industry have a vital part to play in protecting American research.
Earlier this year, Congress passed the CHIPS and Science Act, which I helped negotiate as the lead Republican on the Senate Commerce Committee. This law includes tough new measures that I authored to protect American research. It requires universities to disclose foreign sources of funding, allows the NSF to deny research grants based on security risks, and bans participation in so-called “foreign talent recruitment programs” hosted by adversarial nations, which are often hotbeds for espionage. This law is a major step forward in protecting the fruits of American ingenuity. More steps like this will go a long way toward keeping America the world leader in innovation and technology.