Science and Technology Foundation (ASTF) was established in
1988 as a public corporation and is funded by interest from
its endowment. ASTF's mission is to invest in applied and
basic research that enhances the state's long-term economic
development and technological innovation, builds its science
and engineering capabilities, and improves the health of Alaskans.
ASTF awards competitive grants, but grantees repay ASTF's
endowment up to one and one-half times the amount initially
received through a percentage of gross revenues later realized.
ASTF encourages partnership development and discourages long-term
dependence on its funds.
years, ASTF has awarded grants worth approximately $2.5 million
annually. About 95 percent of these funds go to R&D activities
in sectors such as agriculture, Arctic engineering, energy,
forestry and wood products, public health and safety, mining,
and software/hardware development. The remainder are awarded
directly to teachers or as interim funding ("bridging
grants") to recipients of federal Small Business Innovation
Research (SBIR) grants. The Alaska Legislature has also appropriated
more than $3.5 million annually from ASTF resources for non-grant
purposes. Of these funds, $3 million have gone to the UAF
Agriculture and Forestry Station in Palmer. The remainder
has gone to help fund other groups such as the Alaska Aerospace
Development Corporation. In addition, a total of $3 million
($1 million in FY 1995 and $2 million in FY 1996) has been
set aside to establish an Alaskan Business Investment Development
Company (BIDCO) to provide access to medium-risk capital for
Alaskan business. Observers worry that if the legislature
continues to earmark ASTF resources for non-ASTF purposes,
the future effectiveness of the foundation could be threatened.