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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.

Highlights from the President's FY 2018 Budget Request: NASA

The Science Mission Directorate within the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) would receive $5.7 billion in the president’s proposed FY 2018 budget, a $53.1 million (0.9 percent) decrease from FY 2017.

Highlights from the President's FY 2018 Budget Request: National Science Foundation

The president’s FY 2018 budget proposal for the National Science Foundation (NSF) would provide $6.7 billion – a $840.9 million (11.2 percent) decrease in funding.

Highlights from the President's FY 2018 Budget Request: Regional Commissions

The president’s FY 2018 budget proposal includes requests for four regional commissions with the funds appropriated only for the purposes of closure of these commissions, including: $31 million for the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC); $7.3 million for the Denali Commission; $2.5 million for the Delta Regional Authority (DRA); and, $850,000 for the Northern Border Regional Commission.

Highlights from the President's FY 2018 Budget Request: Small Business Administration

The administration’s FY 2018 budget would eliminate several programs providing support to entrepreneurs and small businesses, including FAST, a grant program that targets improved participation in SBIR/STTR, particularly for women and minorities, and the Regional Innovation Clusters and Growth Accelerators programs. SBA’s Entrepreneurial Development Programs would be cut by $52.6 million to $192.5 million (21.5 percent decrease), while Business Loan Programs would hold nearly steady at $156.2 million ($1.5 million, 1.0 percent decrease).

Highlights from the President's FY 2018 Budget Request: Sequestration - the other budget threat

One complication for the FY 2018 budget process is that discretionary spending is scheduled to decrease by billions from FY 2017 levels. The reason for this decrease is Congress’ solution to previous spending impasses: the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA). This act set limits on how much can be spent on defense and non-defense discretionary spending for future years. While Congress frequently authorizes additional spending beyond the caps the act sets, if they fail to alter the FY 2018 spending level, it would reduce the discretionary budget by $110 billion.

AZ, MT, NE state budgets see some funding increase for innovation

SSTI continues its reporting on actions taken by state legislatures to invest in economic growth through science, technology, innovation and entrepreneurship. This week, we look at the budgets passed and signed by governors in Arizona, where R&D infrastructure will get a boost at the state’s public universities, Montana, which will see an increase in funding for some higher education research facilities, and Nebraska, where the state maintained the amount authorized for funding to small businesses for commercialization activities.


Gain national recognition by winning a 2017 SSTI Creating a Better Future Award

The 2017 SSTI Creating a Better Future Award provides the perfect opportunity to show other practitioners, as well as policymakers, the success you have achieved at creating a better future for your region through science, technology, innovation and entrepreneurship. To be eligible, submit a brief application that highlights one of your organization’s most successful initiatives. Award categories encompass research; entrepreneurship and capital; competitive industries and economic opportunity; and, recognition for the most promising initiative. Check out the categories and more information at sstiawards.org.

Visit our SSTI awards resources page for the call for applications, writing samples, and to listen to the information call.

Don’t delay – deadline for applications is May 26.

NIH considers limits on individual research funding; impacts examined

In part one of two, SSTI will examine NIH’s proposed changes that will place limits on individual researcher funding.

On May 2, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced that it intends to implement a new approach to grant funding with the purpose of increasing the number of researchers receiving grants. These proposed changes are due to a highly skewed distribution of NIH funding with 10 percent of NIH-funded investigators receiving over 40 percent of funding. NIH intends to roll out specific policies and procedures as part of the new approach – titled the Grant Support Index (GSI) – that will assess effectiveness of NIH research investments. During this time, NIH also will seek feedback from on how best to implement the individual grant funding limits.

$40M raised through regulation crowdfunding in first year

On May 16 of last year, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) finally allowed both accredited and non-accredited investors to engage in regulation crowdfunding. Under the new SEC rules, startups and other private companies could offer equity in return for capital to help support business growth. As of May 2017, total contributions under the regulation crowdfunding into startups and small businesses are over the $40 million mark with an average investment of $833 per investor.

Tennessee reconnects with adult students, aims to boost workforce

Adults in Tennessee seeking to return to the classroom will have a new option for free tuition at community colleges, part of an expansion of the Tennessee Promise scholarship program. The newly passed and expanded Tennessee Reconnect legislation extends eligibility for free tuition to persons who have been out of school for longer periods of time or who may have never attended college. It is part of Gov. Bill Haslam’s “Drive to 55” focus, where he hopes to increase the percentage of the state’s adults equipped with a college degree or certificate to 55 percent; it is currently closer to 30 percent in Tennessee.

Congress sends mixed signals on evidence-based programming

In an unexpected twist, the FY 2017 budget passed earlier this month by Congress has more dislikes than likes for evidence-based program and policy design, despite being embraced strongly by both Presidents Donald Trump and Barack Obama. Masked under a variety of different nomenclatures – performance contracting, social impact bonds, pay for success, for example – evidence-based programming incorporates rigorous metrics to assess the effectiveness of public policy toward meeting its goals and basing expenditures accordingly.

Recent Research: Unicorns are routinely over-valued

In a market economy, what people are willing to pay determines something’s value. Airline tickets are a good example. For most of the major airlines, the price to purchase a seat the day of a flight seems to be some multiple of how much the airline thinks they can get away charging versus any drive to actually see the seat used. This supply-demand principle falls apart though with valuations set for startup companies funded by equity investors, such as angels or venture capitalists. In the risk capital business, a number of possible factors influences a startup company’s value – most tied to future markets, comparables, or dreams of big exits. Recent research from the University of British Columbia and Stanford University suggests just how surprisingly risky – and overly optimistic – this approach is.