Widespread Support for Portman’s Bipartisan Legislation to Stop Theft of U.S. Research & Innovation

June 18, 2020 | Portman Difference

Research leaders, hospitals, and colleges and universities in Ohio have announced their support for Senator Portman’s bipartisan Safeguarding American Innovation Act, bipartisan legislation to help stop foreign governments, particularly China, from stealing American taxpayer-funded research and intellectual property (IP) developed at U.S. colleges and universities.   

As Chairman and Ranking Member of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (PSI), Portman and Carper led a year-long investigation into this issue culminating in a bipartisan report and hearing that detailed how American taxpayers have been unwittingly funding the rise of China’s military and economy over the last two decades while federal agencies have done little to stop it. Starting in the late 1990s through its “talent recruitment programs,” China began recruiting U.S.-based scientists and researchers to transfer U.S. taxpayer-funded IP to China for their own economic and military gain. This legislation will ensure that the federal government is taking decisive action to safeguard American innovation. 

This legislation also addresses the findings of PSI’s February 2019 reportwhich highlighted the Department of Education’s lack of enforcement of foreign gift reporting at U.S. colleges and universities, which the department admitted was “historically lax.” This bill gives the department increased authority to enforce foreign gift reporting rules and lowers the reporting threshold to increase transparency and prevent foreign interference on U.S. campuses.

The following national and Ohioan research leaders, hospitals, and colleges and universities have voiced their support of the legislation:

  • Morley O. Stone, Senior Vice President for Research, The Ohio State University:  “I want to thank Senator Portman for his steadfast leadership on protecting U.S. research and innovation. His bill will strengthen the security and integrity of our nation’s scientific and research enterprise, something we at Ohio State take very seriously. I support his efforts, commend him for his thoughtful and reasoned approach, and look forward to continuing to work with him on this important issue for the future of U.S. research leadership.”
  • Tom Mihaljevic, M.D., President and CEO, Cleveland Clinic: “Cleveland Clinic supports Senator Portman’s effort to strengthen the protections around research at our nation’s research institutions. The Safeguarding American Innovation Act establishes reasonable protections around the integrity and security of research being conducted across the country, while allowing for continued scientific advancement and discovery. High quality research has the power to transform lives and medical care and is critically important, especially as this global pandemic continues. We appreciate Senator Portman’s thoughtful approach to address these critical issues.”
  • Dr. John Barnard, Chief of Pediatrics and President of the Abigail Wexner Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital: “At Nationwide Children’s Hospital, our research priority is the discovery of new knowledge and the development of therapies to improve the health of every child.  The Safeguarding American Innovation Act will help protect that research so that it can have the greatest impact for all children. We are grateful for this in-depth bipartisan effort to ensure the integrity and safety of important research throughout the United States.” 
  • Barbara Snyder, President of Case Western Reserve University: “On behalf of Case Western Reserve University, I write to applaud Sen. Portman’s bipartisan work to address concerns related to the inappropriate involvement of foreign governments in U.S.-sponsored research. Taxpayer supported research at institutions such as CWRU is vital to developing the next generation of breakthroughs that will favorably impact growth and competitiveness in virtually all facets of the U.S. economy, including agriculture, energy, materials, transportation, health, communications and information technology.  The bill that Sens. Portman and Carper have developed proposes a number of thoughtful steps to clarify reporting requirements and provide tools to protect our knowledge base from theft and misuse. We endorse the goals of the Safeguarding American Innovation Act to modernize the safety and security of our nation, and we look forward to continuing to collaborate with Sen. Portman as the legislation moves forward.”
  • Dr. Patrick A. Limbach, Vice President of Research, University of Cincinnati: “The University of Cincinnati appreciates Senator Portman’s real engagement with the higher education community for its feedback and input in the development of this legislation. UC's research enterprise is powered by all of our world-class research faculty, and we take seriously the threat and danger of foreign interference within this enterprise. UC is developing and devoting significant resources to ensuring compliance, transparency, and security. The legislation’s efforts to harmonize the federal research funding process, share information, and include the research community in the development of regulations is to be applauded. UC looks forward to continuing to work with Senator Portman in ensuring that UC and higher education in general can continue to advance the research and development vital to our country’s economic competitiveness.”
  • Michael Fisher, President and CEO, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center (CCHMC):Cincinnati Children’s has long been a leader in improving child health through the research and discovery efforts of its world class faculty and staff.  We are committed to innovation, transparency and collaboration, and support this legislation‘s efforts to achieve those common goals in a way that protects institutions and our country from the threats of foreign interference and misappropriation.  Cincinnati Children’s pledges to work with co-sponsors Senators Rob Portman and Tom Carper and others in Congress, to strengthen these efforts.”
  • Mr. Lewis Von Thaer, CEO of Battelle: “Battelle supports Senator Portman's bipartisan legislation, the Safeguarding American Innovation Act, which addresses systemic problems with foreign governments stealing our research and IP.  As a taxpayer supported research institution and operator of Department of Energy national laboratories, Battelle is at the forefront of developing the next generation of breakthroughs that enhance our nation’s health, well-being, and security.  The Safeguarding American Innovation Act thoughtfully addresses vulnerabilities in the U.S. research enterprise, clarifies reporting requirements for federal grants, and provides tools to protect our knowledge base from theft and misuse.”
  • Dr. Frank Calzonetti, Vice President for Research, The University of Toledo: The University of Toledo respects the importance of international collaboration to advance research for the benefit of humanity.  However, the University also understands that some foreign governments do not follow ethical and legal practices that serve to respect the source and contributions to discoveries made by individual scientists, institutions and national programs.  The University of Toledo supports Senator Portman's leadership in protecting the nation's scientific enterprise and we will continue to take steps to ensure that our research and technology is protected from those who wish to take advantage of our open science system without respect for scientific, ethical and legal norms.”
  • Sue Edwards, President of Wright State University:  “Wright State University, as a productive research institution strongly supports this legislature to ensure the protection of US research and intellectual property against theft.“