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Report outlines steps for US to improve its competitiveness in basic energy sciences

The supremacy of the U.S. research enterprise has been eroding, particularly challenged by China and other Asian countries, and a new draft report from the Basic Energy Sciences Advisory Committee (BESAC) at the Department of Energy (DOE) concludes that U.S. leadership in basic energy sciences will continue to diminish without intervention. Specifically, the report finds that to stay internationally competitive in basic energy sciences the U.S. must: increase total funding for R&D, spanning from basic and fundamental research to experimental development; focus multi-disciplinary research on several key areas of energy sciences; increase the nation’s ability to attract and retain the world’s top scientists and engineers; and, facilitate interactions among basic, applied, and industrial researchers to accelerate the translation of research into socially beneficial technologies.

$5.4M in prizes to support inclusive entrepreneurship announced by SBA

The Small Business Administration (SBA) has announced a combined total of $5.4 million in awards to innovation-focused entrepreneur support organizations with programs to support entrepreneurs researching and developing STEM-related innovations. The 2021 competition included two prize tracks with 84 winners for the Growth Accelerator Fund Competition (GAFC) and eight winners for the new SBIR Catalyst competition, which aims to spur investment in underrepresented communities within the innovation economy.  

Biden announces science and tech advisors

The Biden administration announced the 30 members of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) this week. The panel, which is co-chaired by the president’s science advisor and external experts, exists to make science, technology and innovation recommendations to the White House. The administration calls this the most diverse PCAST in its history, which dates back to 1957, including the first women co-chairs. Included among the advisors are two former secretaries under President Barack Obama: Penny Pritzker (Commerce) and Ashton Carter (Defense).

Treasury awards $24.1M in CDFI technical assistance

The Community Development Financial Institution Fund (CDFI Fund) of the U.S. Department of Treasury recently awarded more than $24.1 million in Technical Assistance Awards to 191 Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs). These awards were distributed through the Community Development Financial Institutions Program (CDFI Program) and the Native American CDFI Assistance Program (NACA Program). The 191 CDFI awardees represented 39 states — as well as Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico.

Defense awards $25 million to manufacturing communities

The Office of Local Defense Community Cooperation revealed the awardees from its second round of the Defense Manufacturing Community Support Program this week. The office awarded $5 million to each of five organizations to lead partnerships that will strengthen defense manufacturing and related supply chains. The five awards are listed below and available on the office’s website:

$46.4 million announced for 57 new POWER grants

The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) recently announced its largest POWER (Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization) grant package to date, investing nearly $46.4 million into 57 projects across 184 counties. The award aims to leverage entrepreneurship, workforce development, and infrastructure to bolster re-employment opportunities, create jobs in existing or new industries, and attract new sources of investment.

23 global cities, 58 million people to benefit from $2B UrbanShift program

The United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) and its partners announced that they will provide at least $1.8 billion in funding and financing to 23 more cities across nine countries to implement integrated development approaches to improve efficiency, inclusivity and resilience against climate change.