The Secretary of Transportation may designate National Maritime Enhancement Institutes.
(b) Activities.—Activities undertaken by an institute may include—
analyzing economic and operational impacts of regulatory policies and international negotiations or agreements pending before international bodies;
assessing the compatibility of domestic maritime infrastructure systems with overseas transport systems;
(c) Application for Designation.—
An institution seeking designation as a National Maritime Enhancement Institute shall submit an application under regulations prescribed by the Secretary.
(d) Criteria for Designation.—The Secretary shall designate an institute under this section on the basis of the following criteria:
The demonstrated research and extension resources available to the applicant for carrying out the activities specified in subsection (b).
The ability of the applicant to provide leadership in making national and regional contributions to the solution of both long-range and immediate problems of the domestic maritime industry.
The existence of an established program of the applicant encompassing research and training directed to enhancing maritime industries.
The demonstrated ability of the applicant 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.
(e) Financial Awards.—
The Secretary may make awards on an equal matching basis to an institute designated under subsection (a) from amounts appropriated. The aggregate annual amount of the Federal share of the awards by the Secretary may not exceed $500,000.
(f) University Transportation Research Funds.—
The Secretary may make a grant under section 5505 of title 49 to an institute designated under subsection (a) for maritime and maritime intermodal research under that section as if the institute were a university transportation center. In making a grant, the Secretary, through the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology of the Department of Transportation, shall advise the Maritime Administration on the availability of funds for the grants and consult with the Administration on making the grants.
(Pub. L. 109–304, § 8(b), Oct. 6, 2006, 120 Stat. 1561; Pub. L. 113–76, div. L, title I, Jan. 17, 2014, 128 Stat. 574.)