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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.

State policymakers can better enable data-driven innovation, report finds

Some states are better positioned for success in the data economy than others, but all have opportunities for growth, according to a recent report from the Center for Data Innovation. To determine The Best States for Data Innovation authors Daniel Castro, Josh New, and John Wu use 25 indicators across three dimensions: data availability, digital infrastructure, and human and business resources. The authors suggest that all states are capable of improving their capacity for data-driven innovation. To do so, they recommend that state policymakers: make their data accessible and transparent; develop infrastructure items such as broadband Internet and smart connectivity; and, support the use of data to make existing industries more competitive.

31 Mega-rounds, strong fundraising drive VC industry in Q2 of 2017

As we enter the second half of 2017, the U.S. venture capital (VC) market is driven by several noticeable trends. After peaking in 2015, the current VC market continues its slow decline in the number of deals, but Q2 of 2017 saw a spike in mega-rounds – rounds of $100 million or more. These mega-rounds are accompanied by strong fundraising efforts including a record-setting mega fund launch. 

Senate Appropriations advances FY 2018 spending bills, would fund Regional Innovation at $21 million

Over the past week, the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations has passed bills to fund commerce and science, transportation, energy and water and agriculture. Regional Innovation Strategies would be funded at $21 million, an increase of $4 million over FY 2017. Other innovation proposals received mixed support, as the Senate cut $3.2 billion from commerce, justice and science funding and another $400 million from agriculture.

San Francisco Fed: Workforce development may help boost business formation

From Main Street businesses to technology startups, research has shown the rate of new business formation in the United States has plummeted since the 1970s. In the past year, the Digest has frequently cited research from the Economic Innovation Group (EIG), the Kauffman Foundation, and the Federal Reserve on the impacts of declining dynamism on America’s economic outlook. A recent letter by economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco suggests that an often-overlooked aspect of business formation is the availability of labor, and that policies that seek to improve and deepen the labor pool may help increase new business growth.

Number of minority-owned firms, their employees, and their payrolls all rise in 2015

The number of minority-owned employer firms in the United States inched closer to the million-mark in 2015 after growing by 4.9 percent from the previous year, according to recently published data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Annual Survey of Entrepreneurs. The 996,248 minority-owned employer firms in the U.S. employed roughly 8.0 million people in 2015 (6.2 percent increase from 2014) and had payrolls of $254.0 billion (8.0 percent increase from 2014).

US opinion of manufacturing more favorable

In its latest survey of U.S. public perception of manufacturing, Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute found that the majority of Americans surveyed (roughly 8 in 10) view manufacturing as vital to maintaining economic prosperity in the country, but less than 5 in 10 find those jobs interesting or secure, and less than 3 in 10 would encourage their children to pursue a manufacturing career. However, respondents also said they believe future manufacturing jobs will require high-tech skills, be clean, safe and more innovative. That opportunity to build on the positive perceptions already present and dispelling the myths surrounding manufacturing jobs are explored in A look ahead; How modern manufacturers can create positive perceptions with the US public. The authors note that with such findings, “manufacturers could benefit from uplifting current perceptions and tapping into the future vision in order to help attract talent, both young and old, to the industry.”

Economic development potential of blockchain tech industry highlighted

In Blockchain and Economic Development: Hype vs. Realityexperts from the Center for Global Development address the economic development potential of blockchain technology including its potential and existing hurdles to its growth. After explaining blockchain technology’s nuts and bolts, the authors highlight technology areas that would benefit from blockchain technology and the benefits it could offer with wider adoption, including facilitating faster and cheaper payments; providing a secure digital infrastructure for verifying identity; securing property rights; and, making transactions more secure and transparent. 

Pennsylvania budget becomes law despite stalemate

On July 11, without Gov. Tom Wolf’s signature, Pennsylvania’s budget (HB 218) for FY 2018 became law. State lawmakers, however, are still in the midst of a stalemate over how to pay for a nearly $32 billion budget. While Wolf and other Democratic leaders prefer increasing revenue through tax reform, Republican leaders are focusing on other alternatives including a bond effort and expansions of gambling to address the over $2 billion shortfall.

MI and VA see increases in TBED budget, while MA Gov vetoes some line items

Funding for TBED programs took a hit under Massachusetts Gov. Charles Baker, who vetoed millions of dollars in programs that the legislature had approved in the FY 2018 state budget. Michigan programs fared better with funding maintained to diversify the state’s economy and funding for entrepreneurship ecosystems getting a boost. And in Virginia, after a messy budget process addressing an addendum to its biennial budget, many innovation programs saw increases.

Federal science & engineering support to universities declines

At least 1,016 academic institutions across the U.S.  received federal support for a range of science and engineering functions in FY 2015, according to the latest survey from National Science Foundation. While the total was up slightly from the 1,003 institutions reported in the previous year, NSF also found that larger community divided a federal pie that was 3 percent or $900 million less than 2014, in constant dollars.  The FY 2015 total figure of $27,747 million was 6 percent less than the 2012 total of $29,580 million, also in constant dollars. 

Foundations look for 50% tax cut

Presently, the IRS provides private foundations a tax break if they show a trend of exceeding qualifying distribution requirements (grants). The legislative intent is for the tax reduction to serve as an incentive or reward for those foundations that are more generous with their grants over a five-year period than the 5 percent minimum distribution required by law.  The Council of Foundations wants all philanthropists to get the tax break regardless of the trends in their generosity and disbursements.  Four senators apparently agree with the council as they have included the provision in S. 1343, the recently introduced bill addressing several tax provisions dealing with charitable giving. The bill was introduced by Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Bob Casey (D-Pa.), both members of the tax-writing Senate Finance Committee, with Sens. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore) as co-sponsors.

Manufacturing resurgence needs smart supply chain

Restoring America’s competitive edge requires a new approach to managing suppliers, one where all the players are connected, collaborative, and focused on maximizing shared value – a “smart supply chain” – says a new report from MForesight. SSTI spoke with Tom Mahoney, one of the report’s authors and associate director at MForesight, who said that if steps are not taken to move the supply chain in the right direction, or if funding for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership is eliminated as has been proposed in the White House’s budget, the outlook for manufacturing will be poor. Ensuring American Manufacturing Leadership Through Next-Generation Supply Chains, by Mahoney and Susan Helper, provides insight into the current challenges and opportunities facing supply chain management in U.S. manufacturing and provides recommendations for regaining a competitive edge.