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Equity crowdfunding short on delivery but showing promise

Startups and small businesses raised $30 million during the first year of equity crowdfunding (also known as regulation crowdfunding or Reg CF) with an average of $289,000 raised in a successful campaign, according to a recent report published by the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Office of Advocacy. While equity crowdfunding hasn’t been the game changer that it was touted to be by many of its advocates, several studies indicate that the first year plus shows promising findings for this new source of startup capital authorized by the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (JOBS Act).

More states target broadband to drive rural economic growth

In February, SSTI highlighted several state-led efforts to address the rural broadband gap, which affects more than 30 percent of rural America who currently lack access to adequate broadband service. The states’ efforts should help revitalize rural communities by aiding small business formation and manufacturers’ expansion, and improve educational achievement/workforce training for local citizens. As some state legislative sessions wrap up, several more governors and state lawmakers have created new initiatives to address this significant issue. Alabama, Colorado and Washington provide the most recent examples of new commitments, including some reversing bans on public broadband provision when the private market fails to deliver.

EU launches fund-of-funds to stimulate European VC markets

The European Commission and European Investment Fund announced the creation of VentureEU – a fund-of-fund initiative intended to increase the availability of venture capital for the continent’s startup community. Through the VentureEU effort, the EU will invest approximately €410 million (approximately 507.8 million USD) across six funds run by established European fund managers.

New program expands low-income students' credentialing options

Low-income students in the Dallas County Community College District (DCCCD) will be among the first allowed to use federal student aid to enroll in programs offered by nontraditional educational providers. The providers — including coding bootcamps, online courses, and employer organizations — are partnering with accredited colleges or universities through an experimental program called Educational Quality through Innovation Partnerships (EQUIP). The U.S. Department of Education has announced that Brookhaven College is the first program to receive final approval.

Countries’ readiness for autonomous vehicles rated

Asserting that autonomous vehicles are poised to revolutionize both transportation and the way people live and work throughout the world, KPMG has developed a readiness index that evaluates 20 countries around the world according to four pillars. They include: policy and legislation; technology and innovation; infrastructure; and consumer acceptance.

New science policy directives revealed at HHS, EPA

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the EPA have each released new four-year strategic plans, continuing to reflect agencies’ adoption of the Trump administration’s policy directions. HHS has a streamlined science agenda that limits explicit connections to regulation while aiming to expand its overall capacity for research. EPA’s new plan is emphasizing science solely in support of legislative requirements and state requests.

NJ's and VA’s new governors propose free tuition, workforce programs

New Jersey is considering a state program for free tuition for community college which would be phased in over several years and Virginia is proposing money for a customized workforce recruitment and training incentive program in newly proposed state budgets. Both states have new governors who have revised their predecessors’ budgets, resulting in some additional TBED initiatives in the states.