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Senate majority reveals FY22 budget with significant science, entrepreneurship funding

With the regular budget process stalled for the time being, Senate Democrats released their draft bills for the remaining three-quarters of the FY 2022 federal budget. Included in these proposals are substantial increases for Build to Scale and the Small Business Administration’s innovation programs, as well as funding for a new Directorate for Technology, Innovation and Partnerships (TIP) at the National Science Foundation.

More than $1B in new state and local initiatives for clean energy announced

New York City and the state of Illinois have both made moves recently to shift more of their economies to clean energy. Mayor Bill de Blasio and the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) announced a 15-year, $191 million Offshore Wind Vision (OSW) plan to make New York City a leading destination for the offshore wind industry.  Last month, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed sweeping legislation offering new incentives for the adoption of clean energy and aim to move it to 100 percent clean energy by 2050. And Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker is looking to use American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) money to establish a clean energy investment fund.

Dept. of Energy tech licenses now subject to expanded domestic manufacturing requirements

Technologies that are developed from the Department of Energy’s R&D are now required to be substantially manufactured in America. The requirement was developed in response to President Joe Biden’s executive order that all agencies review their policies related to supply chain vulnerabilities. The rule change takes the domestic manufacturing preference that is in place currently only for exclusive licenses for products sold/used in the U.S. and applies it by default to all Energy licenses from Oct. 1 on.

Energy storage startup with government-sponsored funding goes public

ESS Inc., a company that closed a deal to go public earlier this month, was able to leverage public capital at its early stages to accelerate its success as a startup. Founded in 2011, the Wilsonville, Oregon, based company manufactures batteries for long-duration energy storage applications. In 2012, ESS Inc. received a Phase I Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) award from ARPA-E, and additional grant support from the Oregon Nanoscience and Microtechnologies Institute (ONAMI), an SSTI member. ONAMI is an Oregon-based non-profit that provides grants, equity funding and business development guidance to startups engaged in research-based scientific innovation. It receives funding from Business Oregon, also an SSTI member.

White House announces Equity in Science and Technology Ideation Challenge

The White House is seeking public input to help remove barriers to equity in the science and technology ecosystem. The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) launched the Time is Now: Advancing Equity in Science and Technology Ideation Challenge that asks for ideas from the public in answering a central question: “How can we guarantee all Americans can fully participate in, and contribute to, science and technology?” OSTP is asking for ideas and examples of successful programs to help advance equitable science and technology and to contribute to America’s global competitiveness in the 21st century.

France unveils $35B investment plan for innovative technology

France announced a $35 billion five-year plan to develop innovative technology and industrial activity to help boost its economic growth. An AP news story said the plan includes $9.2 billion to develop energy technology to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and additional funding to finance small nuclear reactors. Called France 2030, the plan contains 10 objectives including making France a green hydrogen leader with at least two gigafactories of electrolysers that will produce hydrogen; decarbonize industry by reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 35 percent compared to 2015; produce nearly 2 million electric and hybrid vehicles; and, build low-carbon aircraft.

University endowments see uncertain success in returns from alternative assets

Across the United States, universities’ endowments have seen a large return in their portfolios in the past year, according to a recent PitchBook report. This trend was most notable in well-known universities with large endowments. The University of North Carolina reported a 42.3 percent return, Duke University reported a 56 percent return, and Washington University in St. Louis reported a 65 percent return. These gains are largely attributed to their investments in alternative assets like venture capital and private equity.