§ 1121–2. National Maritime Enhancement Institutes

(a) Designation by Secretary of Transportation
The Secretary of Transportation may designate National Maritime Enhancement Institutes.
(b) Activities
Activities undertaken by such an Institute may include—
(1) conducting research concerning methods for improving the performance of maritime industries;
(2) enhancing the competitiveness of domestic maritime industries in international trade;
(3) forecasting trends in maritime trade;
(4) assessing technological advancements;
(5) developing management initiatives and training;
(6) analyzing economic and operational impacts of regulatory policies and international negotiations or agreements pending before international bodies;
(7) assessing the compatibility of domestic maritime infrastructure systems with overseas transport systems;
(8) fostering innovations in maritime transportation pricing; and
(9) improving maritime economics and finance.
(c) Submission of applications
An institution seeking designation as a National Maritime Enhancement Institute shall submit an application under regulations prescribed by the Secretary.
(d) Designation criteria
The Secretary shall designate an Institute under this section on the basis of the following criteria:
(1) the demonstrated research and extension resources available to the designee for carrying out the activities specified in subsection (b) of this section;
(2) the capability of the designee to provide leadership in making national and regional contributions to the solution of both long-range and immediate problems of the domestic maritime industry;
(3) the existence of an established program of the designee encompassing research and training directed to enhancing maritime industries;
(4) the demonstrated ability of the designee to assemble and evaluate pertinent information from national and international sources and to disseminate results of maritime industry research and educational programs through a continuing education program; and
(5) the qualification of the designee as a nonprofit institution of higher learning.
(e) Awards
The Secretary may make awards on an equal matching basis to an institute designated under subsection (a) of this section from amounts appropriated. The aggregate annual amount of the Federal share of the awards by the Secretary shall not exceed $500,000.
(f) University transportation research funds
(1) In general
The Secretary may make a grant under section 5505 of title 49 to an institute designated under subsection (a) of this section for maritime and maritime intermodal research under that section as if the institute were a university transportation center.
(2) Advice and consultation of MARAD
In making a grant under the authority of paragraph (1), the Secretary, through the Research and Innovative Technology Administration, shall advise the Maritime Administration concerning the availability of funds for the grants, and consult with the Administration on the making of the grants.