Portman, Bennet Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Increase U.S. Small Business Participation in International Standards Setting

May 19, 2021 | Press Releases

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Michael Bennet (D-CO) introduced their bipartisan legislation, the Leadership in Global Tech Standards Act, to establish a grant program for U.S. small businesses in order to increase their participation in international technology standards-setting efforts.

Earlier this year, the congressionally chartered National Security Commission on AI (NSCAI), released a report recommending a number of ways Congress could improve the Artificial Intelligence (AI) capacity and capabilities of the United States. As the NSCAI recommended, this bill would authorize a grant program for small and medium-sized U.S. AI companies to cover the high costs of engaging in international standardization efforts, including conducting relevant research, developing requisite skills and expertise, preparing standards proposals, and attending technical standards-setting meetings.

“Being involved in international technology standards-setting efforts remains a critical aspect of American competitiveness,” said Senator Portman, co-founder and co-chair of the Senate Artificial Intelligence Caucus. “Unfortunately, in recent years, U.S. participation has fallen behind, while China’s participation surges. This bipartisan legislation will help ensure that the U.S. continues to be engage in the standards-setting process by providing smaller sized companies the necessary funds to participate in the many international events involved in the process.”

“Emerging technologies will shape the 21st century in ways we have only begun to imagine. As the international community writes the rules of the road for new technologies, it’s vital that American small businesses have a seat at the table to share their experience and give voice to the importance of fair competition and democratic values,” said Senator Bennet. “We cannot cede the debate over the future of technology to the Chinese government.”

U.S. participation in international standards setting has decreased in recent years, while participation by strategic competitors, like China, have risen. Some of the main impediments to U.S. participation are time and cost. Many international standards-setting meetings and conferences are currently held overseas, taking relevant experts away from their job, which can be a burden on smaller companies. Currently, the European Union and China have programs to help facilitate participation of smaller enterprises in the international standards-setting process and this bill creates a U.S. version to ensure competitiveness.