The Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles (PNGV) is widely known as an historic, joint research project between the U.S federal government and USCAR, the consortium of the Big Three U.S. automakers. Not as well known is the fact that this historic undertaking also encourages and welcomes the participation of suppliers, universities, small businesses and individual entrepreneurs.

PNGV wants to include the best ideas, concepts, and technologies from these business and research communities. To acccomplish this, an outreach effort was incorporated early on to include participation beyond the federal government and the Big Three. To encourage a wide range of participation and to discuss the technical needs of PNGV with potential third-party participants, public meetings, workshops, symposia and conferences have been held over the past year.

For example, last year at the Forum for Small Business Automotive Suppliers, representatives from government and industry discussed the suppliers' critical role in PNGV and explained how to initiate research partnerships with the federal laboratories and universities.

Vice President Gore sponsored two technical symposia last year that included representatives from the supplier, small business and academic communities. A third vice presidential symposium is scheduled for early 1995.

There are several opportunities for obtaining government funding through existing programs. Listed below are some of the avenues through which interested parties can send proposals to participate.

* Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) Programs. Small businesses and individual inventors may pursue technological developments supporting PNGV through different SBIRs. Each agency SBIR has a different focus that can change from year to year. For example, the latest Department of Energy SBIR solicits the development of fuel-cell materials, advanced-turbine components and fuel cells. The National Science Foundation's latest SBIR focused on fuel cells, intelligent controls and catalysts, while the National Institute of Standards and Technology's latest SBIR funded research in materials and manufacturing. To be considered, a sman business must be a for-profit enterprise with not more than 500 employees and operate in the U.S. with a majority domestic ownership.

* Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR). Modeled after SBIR, this program requires a small business to partner with a non-profit research institution such as a university or federally funded laboratory. Not less than 40% of the work conducted under an STFR award must be per formed by the small business and not less than 30% must be performed by the non-profit research institution.

* Energy-Related Inventions Program (ERIP). Like SBIR, the ERIP program is for small businesses, but it also includes entrepreneurs and individuals. A joint effort between the DOE and the Department of Commerce (DOC), the ERIP program reviews and funds unsolicited energy-related proposals.

* Advanced Technology Program (ATP). If your proposal concerns a high-risk, but potentially high-payoff, technology submit an ATP proposal to the DOC's National Institute of Standards and Technology. There are two types of awards. One is for a general competition where proposals are accepted on any subject. A second type is for proposals responding to a set of focus topics. All ATP awards are cost-shared between industry and government.

* Technology Reinvesment Program (TRP). Do you have a technology that has U.S. defense and the commercial application? The TRP program, managed by the Department of Defense's Advanced Research Projections Agency (ARPA), may be of interest to you. Projects receiving TRP awards commonly emphasize partnership, cost-sharing and defense relevance.

Notice for competitive solicitation or other opportunities to participate in the PNGV program will be periodically listed in the Federal Register and/or the Commerce Business Daily. Summary information also can be accessed on our PNGV electronic bulletin board, which can be reached through the root gopher server under "Americans Communicating Electronically," "National Policy Issues," and then "Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles."

The PNGV Government Secretariat at the Department of Commerce is developing a booklet that will further describe the ways to seek government funding. Scheduled to be released in the spring, this booklet will be available to the public at no charge. For a copy, call the PNGV Government Secretariat at 202-482-6260 or write to: PNGV Government Secretariat, Department of Commerce, Room 7064, 14th Street and Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20230.