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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.


Does Defense have $250M IOU to small businesses?

The SBIR program has been a legislated requirement of the Department of Defense, an agency responsible for roughly 40 percent of all federal extramural R&D spending, for more than three decades. One might expect that over that amount of time, the Department of Defense would have developed a system to become compliant with SBIR’s fundamental provision that a minimum threshold of innovation research spending be directed toward small businesses. Yet, a new report from the Government Accountability Office concludes DOD couldn’t say if it was meeting the threshold because, DoD did not submit the required obligations data. The report states “DOD officials told [the GAO] that obtaining obligations data would require requesting information from more than 10 individual program offices that, in turn, would have to request the information from various DOD comptrollers, which would be a major effort.”

CO, MN, NM, OK state budgets take hit in innovation funding

As governors and state legislatures continue their negotiations over state budgets, SSTI has reviewed the latest to be signed. The process has proved difficult in more than a few states, with New Mexico having to overcome several stalemates and still facing shortages while in Oklahoma three-fourths of the state agencies are seeing decreased funding due to the state’s $900 million shortfall.

Innovation, education victims of FL governor’s veto pen

Among the $410 million in items Gov. Rick Scott struck from Florida’s 2018 budget were more than 100 appropriations totaling more than $20 million that would support STEM education, higher ed, R&D and innovation. Instead, the governor wants the state to spend more money promoting tourism. Scott vetoed more than $20 million for innovation-oriented economic development items.

BX Challenge supports diverse entrepreneurs in Chicago area

The Blackstone Charitable Foundation has announced its first cohort of eight organizations in the Chicago-area entrepreneurship challenge. Named the BX Challenge, up to $3 million in grant funding will be provided over three years to innovative organizations that effectively recruit and support diverse entrepreneurs and scale startups in the Chicago area. The selected programs will serve underserved populations, including communities of color, women, veterans, and immigrants.

Study extending life of cancer patients costs $125 per year of life gained

While much recent attention has been given to the Cancer Moonshot research effort, the National Cancer Institute established a network of publicly funded cancer cooperative research groups more than 50 years ago to evaluate new treatments for efficacy and safety. JAMA Oncology details an investigation that examined the extent to which positive NCI-sponsored cancer treatment trials have benefitted patients with cancer. The study estimated that 3.34 million life-years were gained in the population of U.S. patients with cancer through 2015, at a cost of $125 per life-year gained.

Recent Research: Making the case for more economic dynamism

By its very nature, economic dynamism can unsettle local economies. As businesses dissolve, jobs are lost. Technological shifts can drastically alter – or even replace – companies, occupations and entire industries. As these ripple effects move throughout communities, it is easy to focus on the negative impacts, but this loses sight of the importance dynamism has on national economic health.

Patent trolls delivered setbacks in court rulings

Two recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions will greatly shape patent holder rights by limiting where patent lawsuits can be filed and restricting patent rights after a product is sold. These rulings are considered by many analysts to be beneficial for startups, small businesses, and consumers. The biggest losers will be patent trolls – patent owners who collect IP rights only to seek infringement damages – who likely will face more pushback against their patent lawsuits and may see fewer settlements.

Useful Stats: U.S. poverty rates by county for 1989, 1999, 2015

More than 46 million Americans, nearly 15 percent of the population, lived in poverty in 2015, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates. Compared against census data for 1999, more than 2,500 of the country’s 3,100-plus counties saw their rate increase. In 2015, 753 counties had a poverty rate of at least 20 percent — and 415 of these counties have been above this threshold in census data dating back to at least 1989.

USDA reorganization of Rural Development concerns supporters

While U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue has announced that the Rural Development agency would be elevated under a reorganization plan because it would be placed under the direct oversight of the Secretary, not everyone is viewing the consolidation as an elevation.

US lacks in workforce development; competitiveness at risk

If it takes a village to raise a child, it may take an entire educational support system as well as public policy reform and funding to get that child into a skilled technical job. A two-year study coordinated by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine found that the disjointed method of workforce development approaches in the U.S. may be hampering the economic competitiveness of the country.

Canadian government launches C$950 million superclusters initiative

In an effort to incentivize large-scale industry partnerships, Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED) Canada will invest up to C$950 million (US$708.5 million) between 2017 and 2022 in superclusters as part of the nation’s Innovation and Skills Plan.

Kauffman: Startup activity reaches pre-recession levels

The Kauffman Foundation’s recently updated Index of Startup Activity finds that startup activity has increased for the third consecutive year and has now reached pre-recession levels. Nationally, the index, which measures business startup activity from 1997 to 2016, increased moderately after two years of sharp growth.

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