White House R&D Priorities Memo Highlights Several Areas Key to Unmanned Aviation

Acting Director of the Office of Budget and Management, Russell Vought, and Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, Dr. Kelvin Droegemeier, issued their annual joint memorandum outlining the Administration’s fiscal year (FY) 2021 budget priorities for research and development across all federal departments and agencies.

The memo, which mostly aligns with last year’s priorities, will act as guidance to agency heads while planning for and developing initiatives and budget requests for FY 2021. The President will deliver his official budget to Congress in early 2020.

The Memo provides direction across five major priorities and outlines five additional cross-cutting themes. The high-level priorities represented are:

  • American Security
  • American Leadership in Industries of the Future
  • American Energy and Environmental Leadership
  • American Health & Bioeconomic Innovation
  • American Space Exploration and Commercialization.

The cross-cutting actions are:

  • Building and leveraging a diverse and skilled workforce.
  • Creating and supporting research environments that reflect American values.
  • Supporting high-risk and high-reward research.
  • Leveraging the power of data.
  • Building and strengthening strategic multisector partnerships.

The priorities show continued support for several subcategories which could bolster the Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS)/Urban Air Mobility (UAM) industries through research funding, support for a stronger STEM workforce, and federal leadership in collaborative partnerships. The most direct effects would likely come from focus on Critical Infrastructure Resilience, Advanced Communications Networks and Autonomy, and Advanced Manufacturing.

Infrastructure resilience, as a White House priority, will be well-received by many in the counter-UAS space, who would like to see advances in both technology and the associated federal policy. This year’s focus on Advanced Communications Networks and Autonomy and Advanced Manufacturing is likely to give some comfort to companies involved with UAS integration and electric vertical-takeoff-and-landing (eVTOL) development, including type certification, in the UAM sector. Though the memo does not have any specific funding attached, it is a good indication that federal agencies will be maintaining or increasing research support for vital technologies required for critical barriers such as UAS Traffic Management (UTM) systems, autonomous navigation, and scalable aviation manufacturing.

Click here for the full Memorandum.

Contact Information

If you would like to learn more about opportunities, and offensive and defensive strategies related to UAM, UAS and eVTOL, please contact:

Jennifer L. Richter
Washington, D.C.
+1 202.887.4524

Justin Towles
Washington, D.C.
+1 202.887.4024

Clifford Sweatte
Washington, D.C.
+1 202.887.4076