federal agency

SSBCI VC investments attracted $12:1 private financing, local partners

The U.S. Department of Treasury released its final annual report for the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI), which provided funding to states for lending and investment programs. “Venture capital” programs, often structured for pre-seed (13 percent of funds), seed (27 percent) or early stage (45 percent) investments, attracted $4.2 billion in immediate private financing against $327 million in federal dollars. This leverage of $12.76 of private investment for every public dollar was further improved by more than $2 billion in subsequent private financing to date. Perhaps more significant than the program’s ability to attract private investors has been its success in generating investments outside of the nation’s most concentrated markets.

USPTO ‘lottery’ creates huge economic advantage for winners

In a recent paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), the authors contend the U.S. Patent Office (USPTO) has created a lottery-type system that creates great economic benefit for startups and other patent-seekers that drew lenient patent examiners. In What Is A Patent Worth? Evidence from The U.S. Patent “Lottery,” the authors found that patent applications by startups that were reviewed by lenient USPTO examiners had, on average, 55 percent higher employment growth and 80 percent higher sales growth five years later. Those startups also pursue more and higher quality, follow-on innovation. These results are, in large part, due to increased access of funding from VCs, banks, and public investors.

ARC awards $15.7M in new round of funding to improve Appalachia’s coal-impacted communities

On June 14, the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) announced $15.7 million in funding to support 18 projects (including those of two SSTI members – LaunchTN and Ohio University) that will help grow the economies in coal-impacted communities in seven states. With this latest announcement, ARC has invested over $92 million (leveraging an additional $206 million in investments) to diversify the economies in 250 coal-impacted counties across 11 Appalachian states through its POWER (Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization) Initiative. The new round of investments are intended to create and retain hundreds of jobs in advanced manufacturing and tech industries; support entrepreneurial development efforts, and, build workforce pipelines through institutions of higher education.

Legislative & Federal News for April 20, 2017

U.S. Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Gary Peters (D-MI) sent a letter requesting a 4 percent increase in appropriations for the National Science Foundation and National Institute of Standards and Technology to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

The White House announced an executive order to review the H-1B visa program, and the accompanying language suggests the administration’s interest in reforms to emphasize applicant skills and wages.

Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney lifted the federal hiring freeze last week and asked agencies to plan for workforce reductions.

SSTI submits letter to CDFI Fund on equity certification

In response to a request for information, SSTI submitted a letter to the U.S. Department of Treasury’s CDFI Fund about the certification process and standards for community development financial institutions (CDFIs). Just 1.4 percent of all CDFIs and 0.2 percent of total assets are registered by the CDFI Fund as “venture capital,” which is concerning given the importance of equity for many startups.

National Defense Authorization Includes SBIR Reauthorization

Congress approved the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2017, which now awaits the President’s signature. The bill includes several significant provisions for the innovation community, including:

Cures Act Provides Research Funding, Direction

The 21st Century Cures Act was signed by President Obama on Tuesday and is broadly intended to facilitate the research, development and transfer of medical discoveries in order to better-address diseases affecting American people. While the bill has received mainstream coverage for its bipartisanship – the core authors were two Democrats and two Republicans – and billions in new research spending – more than $5 billion in authorizations – the text also contains potentially significant changes for federally-supported medical research policy.

Energy Department Initiatives Create Opportunities for Efficiency, Innovation

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently announced the Zero Energy Districts Accelerator, an initiative to develop best practices for establishing commercial districts that have net-neutral energy consumption. The accelerator is now one of 12 listed under the Better Buildings Initiative, which also includes dedicated programming for community and manufacturing initiatives.

FTC Report Calls for Reform of Patent Trolls

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued a report calling for reforms aimed at patent “trolls” to help lower the number of frivolous lawsuits filed by shell companies, a move welcomed by the tech industry that has pushed for reform because of the cost of lawsuits that result from the activity and its negative effect on innovation, research and development.

The National Nanotechnology Initiative Releases Draft Strategic Plan, Encourages Public Comments

The National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI), established in 2001 as a collaboration of 20 federal agencies and cabinet-level departments with an interest in nanotechnology R&D and commercialization, has released a draft of its 2016 strategic plan. The National Nanotechnology Initiative Strategic Plan, which describes the initiative’s vision and goals as well as potential strategies to achieve these goals. The plan is an update to and a replacement of a plan originally released in December 2013. Prior to the new plan’s official publication, the public is encouraged to submit comments online by September 23, 2016.

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