AN ACT TO ESTABLISH THE CRITICAL TECHNOLOGIES RESEARCH FUND.
Adds new Part 2L, Critical Technologies Research Fund, in Article 10 of GS Chapter 143B, providing as follows. Establishes the Critical Technologies Research Fund (CTRF) to be administered by the North Carolina Board of Science, Technology, and Innovation (Board). Allows the Board to provide competitive grants to eligible entities to support critical technologies research and matching funds for federal grants. Requires at least 50% of the grants to be used for matching requirements for eligible entities receiving federal grants. Caps grants at $200,000. Requires the Board to consider time-sensitive needs for grant applicants and to accelerate the application process to ensure eligible entities are competitive for federal grant applications and research competition. Allows allocating up to 10% of the Fund balance each fiscal year for eligible entities located in this State for any other purpose the Board determines to be in alignment with the Fund's purpose. Allows up to 5% to be used for administrative purposes. Defines critical technology as any of the following technologies meeting specified criteria: (1) clean energy or clean transportation technology; (2) cybersecurity technology; (3) technology essential to supporting, maintaining, or constructing the domestic electrical grid, or for proper handling or management of recycling or reusing decommissioned renewable energy equipment; (4) drinking water infrastructure; (5) any materials or components directly used in these technologies; (6) integrated clean energy systems that combine one or more elements of recycling process and programs; or (7) the implementation needs and market barriers for critical technologies. Defines eligible entity as a business, for-profit corporation, nonprofit corporation, postsecondary constituent institution of The University of North Carolina, community college, or eligible private postsecondary institution located in this state.
Requires giving priority to recycling of electric vehicle batteries and recycling of batteries for residential or utility-scale energy storage. Sets out second-tier prioritization when the grant applicant would use the funds as required matching funds for federal grants, or the critical technology would aim to reduce domestic dependence on foreign energy.
Exempts specified grant applications from any Technology Readiness Level (TRL) requirements. Limits the amount of funds that may be used for the implementation needs and market barriers for critical technologies to 20% of the Fund. Sets out conditions that must be placed on the grants. Allows for reduction or termination of a grant for failure to comply with the conditions.
Requires an annual report each year in which grants are disbursed or there is a cash balance remaining in the Fund to the specified NCGA committee and division. Sets out information that must be included in the report.
Appropriates $4 million for 2022-23 from the General Fund to the Department of Commerce for the CTRF.
Effective July 1, 2022.