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In his State of the Union address last night, US President Barack Obama urged Congress to "undo the damage done by last year's cuts to basic research." He noted that federally funded research provided the underpinnings to things like Google and smartphones, and that in the future, new products like vaccines to head off drug-resistance bacteria or new materials could be developed.

"Listen, China and Europe aren't standing on the sidelines; and neither, neither should we," Obama said. "We know that the nation that goes all-in on innovation today will own the global economy tomorrow. This is an edge America cannot surrender."

Unlike last year when he unveiled a brain-mapping initiative, the Nature News Blog notes, Obama did not push for any new projects in particular this year.

Obama also called for patent reform, though did not offer specifics.

Elsewhere in the speech, Obama noted that climate change is a fact and that the country has to move swiftly as its effects are already being felt by coastal cities with flooding and western cities with drought. Further, he also advocated for immigration reform.