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By Nick Wakeman

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Nick Wakeman

What does $300M in high-tech investments get you?

Last week, President Obama announced $300 million in new money for science and technology initiatives, ranging from brain research to smart cities.

He announced the funding at the White House Frontiers Conference, and it breaks down roughly like this:

  • $70 million for new brain research
  • $16 million for precision medicine initiatives
  • $165 million in public and private money for smart cities
  • $50 million for small satellite technology

Much of the money is going to initiatives that the White House has kicked off in the last few years such as the Smart City Challenge by the Transportation Department and National Institutes of Health Precision Medicine Initiative. So, there is a frame work that the funding can be funneled into.

All of the areas are rich in IT spending for support services as well as drivers of innovation.

In addition to the money, the White House announced the growth of data driven efforts such as the Police Data Initiative and the Data-Driven Justice Initiative, which are working with more than 100 communities across the nation.

The new brain research funding will build on the Brain Initiative launched in 2013. Among the projects NIH plans to fund is a census of cells in the mouse brain along with a data infrastructure that will make the information readily available to researchers.

While the smallest, dollar-wise, the precision medicine money may have the most IT potential. The goal is to take data from electronic health records, medication, surveys, imaging and wearable devices. The vast amount of data should lead to medical breakthroughs.

The smart cities money also is IT-rich and but also relies heavily on industry and government to form partnerships. With the new announcement, the White House wants cities, federal agencies, universities and industry to work together to use new technologies to improve U.S. cities.

The White House wants to build on the Smart City Challenge by adding $65 million in grant money and $100 million in matching funds for advanced transportation technologies. The cities of Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Houston, Denver, Los Angeles, Buffalo, and Marysville, Ohio, are getting funds to target congestion and improve safety.

The Transportation Department also announced $8 million for communities to experiment with on-demand mobility services such as smartphone-enabled car sharing.

President Obama also is making a push to build the framework for the artificial intelligence. The White House released a report on AI, Preparing for the Future of Artificial Intelligence.

The report takes the position that AI will open new markets and opportunities in health, education, energy and the environment. It offers 23 recommendations including government agencies exploring ways to use apply AI to their missions. Agencies should consider creating DARPA-like organizations to support AI research tailored to their agency needs.

A lot of the information is these reports are very much at a high level. There are a few examples of work being done, but you won’t find specific business opportunities. But there is plenty to follow here.

Of course, the Obama administration is in its last months so these may quickly fade from view, but the underlying issues will not. There is a need for better management of cities and transportation systems and that will take data and IT. Artificial intelligence has great potential that will still need to be exploited.

It would be a mistake to discount these initiatives. They should serve as an indicator of where potential markets lie in the not too distant future.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Oct 17, 2016 at 10:50 AM


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