SSTI Digest

The latest reporting and analysis on breakthroughs in technology-based economic development research and issues that matter most to you. To receive the SSTI Weekly Digest via email, sign up here.


Geography: California

R&D and innovation funding sees some increases, more decreases in state budgets: CA, IL, MS, NC, OH

Breaking a two-year impasse, legislators in Illinois were able to pass a state budget that reinstitutes an R&D tax credit and implements workforce development programs. In California, the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (Go-Biz) will see a 28 percent increase in funding, while other innovation initiative are receiving level funding. In other states whose budgets SSTI analyzed this week for TBED-related funding, we found that Innovate Mississippi was able to maintain state funding and new funding was appropriated for workforce development at the state’s community and junior colleges; a variety of programs were cut in North Carolina; and, Ohio will not get funding for a state office focused on commercializing research across key industries that the governor had proposed. More findings from California, Illinois, Mississippi, North Carolina and Ohio are detailed below.

$17M California makers initiative creating community college model

The nation’s largest system of higher education with over 2 million students is trying to connect community colleges to their regional economies through a three-year, $17-million-dollar investment to establish a statewide network of maker-focused colleges. The California Community College (CCC) Maker Initiative may provide a model for community colleges to infuse making, innovation, and entrepreneurship into students’ college experiences while helping them prepare for STEM/STEAM careers with the necessary skills for 21st Century jobs.

Nine states explore science policy fellowships

After training nearly 80 PhD scientists and engineers in the craft of policy making, the California Council on Science and Technology (CCST) has awarded planning grants to nine other states to evaluate the potential to create a policy fellowship for scientists and engineers in their state capital. The new one-year grant, which is administered by CCST and funded by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and the Simons Foundation, will support teams in Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Idaho, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Washington as they work on feasibility studies and other strategic steps toward creating science fellowships in their state policy arenas.

Tech Talkin’ Govs Part IV: governors talk change, new administration, tech and education

More than half of the country’s governors have delivered their state of the state addresses. Last week’s addresses tended to relate to the national election and the incoming administration, with some governors heralding the change and others pledging to try to reach a bipartisan understanding while standing firm on issues they believe in, like climate change in California. Although TBED issues may not have been at the forefront of the addresses, science, technology and especially innovation and higher education continue to receive attention. This week we zero in on comments delivered by governors in California, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana and Utah.

TBED funding to increase in some state budgets, cut in others; CA, HI, MN, NV, ND, RI

SSTI has reviewed another mix of state budgets as governors across the country continue to release their proposals. Some states, like California and North Dakota, are seeing cuts in the amount of money designated for TBED-related work, while others like Minnesota are in a more favorable fiscal situation and continue to fund such initiatives. Still others, like Rhode Island, are proposing new initiatives.

Economic and Education Ballot Measures Get Mixed Results

Bond issues supporting higher education goals got mixed results in Tuesday’s election. A bond issue in Rhode Island to be used for the renovation and construction of the University of Rhode Island’s College of Engineering buildings was a winner in this year’s election, receiving 59.3 percent approval. The bond issue that would have created the Montana Biomedical Research Authority was not as lucky, with 56.9 percent of voters there rejecting the measure.

EDA Grants Support Regional Innovation

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) announced a number of grants last week to aid regional innovation and entrepreneurship efforts through infrastructure improvements, the creation of new spaces, and business improvements in regions across the country. The grants fund projects in AR, AZ, CA, ME, MI, and OH.

Innovative Funding at the Edges

Venture development organizations are reaching into new territory for funding partners and finding success in innovative models. Two new funds, the San Diego Tech & Life Science Investor Syndicate and Rev1 Fund I in Columbus, OH, have recently opened with less traditional funding sources, testing the waters of crowdfunding and heavy corporate backing, respectively. The San Diego fund, launched by CONNECT, allows anyone wanting to invest $1,000 the opportunity to participate alongside more experienced lead investors.

California College Students Promised New Graduation Incentives

Students at several California community colleges as well as California State University (CSU) campuses have access to a new incentive to graduate in four years through new state “promise” programs.  Gov. Jerry Brown Jr. signed SB 412 and AB 1741 creating “promise” programs that act in conjunction with a new 2025 Graduation Initiative, aiming to boost the number of students graduating from those institutions in four years to 40 percent. Success in the programs is intended to help address future workforce needs of California and improve achievement gaps.

States Commit to Improve Economic Prosperity Through Increased Broadband Access

A month after a federal court ruled that high-speed Internet service can be defined as a utility, four states have announced commitments to expand high quality, reliable broadband services to rural areas and other underrepresented groups. Two Midwest states, Wisconsin and Minnesota, will provide funding to help support projects that improve access to broadband and spur economic prosperity.

New Developments in Capital: Strong Results Announced, New Funds Created

In the last month, major new developments have occurred in TBED capital programs. Launch Tennessee and Pittsburgh-based Innovation Works both announced positive findings about the growth of their startup investment ecosystems with $1 billion being raised by Tennessee startups from 2012 to early 2016 and over $279 million invested in Pittsburgh startups in 2015. Meanwhile in Ohio, both Youngstown-based and Cincy-based startups will see an influx of capital, while a new $150 million fund focused on stem cell companies and regions has been launched.

17 Governors Sign Accord to Promote Clean Energy, Economic Prosperity

A bipartisan group of 17 governors signed the Governors’ Accord for a New Energy Future – a joint commitment to support the deployment of renewable, cleaner and more efficient energy technologies and other solutions to make the U.S. economy more productive and resilient as well as spur job creation in member states.

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