Congresswoman Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) today reaffirmed her strong support for investing in science and technological innovation in our country by voting in favor of the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act, H.R. 5116. The House passed H.R. 5116 by a vote of 228 yeas to 130 nays. The legislation now goes to the White House for President Obama's signature.
"Hawaii's science and tech companies can benefit from this bill to become stronger and even more competitive," said Congresswoman Hirono. "I've met with many innovative and talented inventors in Hawaii who could do far more with more funding. Some examples include:
· Patrick Sullivan's Oceanit, which has invented smart hospital beds that save lives by more effectively monitoring patients' vital signs;
· EVAs (Emergency Vision Assurance System), whose president, Bertil Werjefelt, invented the only proven technology to ensure pilots can see in situations where there is unstoppable smoke in airplane cockpits,
· Dr. Hank Wuh's Cellular Bioengineering Inc, which produces an amazing de-contamination hydrogel that has already been used for the Gulf Coast clean-up and has the capacity to clean up radioactive contamination.
These are just a few of the companies in Hawaii that are not only competing globally, but actually taking the lead in developing new technologies."
H.R. 5116 provides innovative technology federal loan guarantees for small- and medium-sized companies to help them access capital to expand and to create jobs and manufacture or commercialize new technology products. The bill also establishes a clean energy manufacturing and construction initiative to create clean energy jobs, promote sustainability in manufacturing, and bolster energy performance and air quality in buildings.
Under the reauthorization, Hawaii's universities will continue to be eligible for numerous grant opportunities, including funding for new majors and undergraduate through postdoctoral research fellowships. The Hawaii State Department of Education will be eligible for grants to support STEM teacher training and Advanced Placement/ International Baccalaureate programs.
"Investing in STEM education is one of our nation's top priorities. Our keiki's future depends on their ability to compete with their peers around the world. We cannot let them down," said Congresswoman Hirono.