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SSTI Digest

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.


Four steps for a bipartisan effort to outcompete China

While economic development tends to be nonpartisan at the state level, many states are limited in their ability to fund innovative programs. In order to fund efforts that may serve as part of a national development strategy, Congress should use the bipartisan support of state efforts to establish and expand federal-state development partnerships and a strategy focused on countering China’s rise in advanced industries. That is the sentiment behind a recent roadmap from the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF) that proposes four things Congress should do to align state efforts to an overall mission of outcompeting China.

Research makes case for larger publicly-backed pre-seed/innovation funds as pandemic persists

Key findings from two independent research projects reveal the pandemic’s corrosive effect on the nation’s innovation commercialization capacity. The projects separately explored how two related innovation financing components — angel investment and venture capital — were reacting to the coronavirus-caused slowdown. Individually, the results might appear simply as yet more interesting curiosities about the pandemic. Considered together, however, and one begins to see the potential unraveling of the broader U.S. innovation tapestry required to support long-term economic prosperity.

Data indicates decreased funding for higher ed points to worsening outcomes for students

In addition to decreasing enrollment numbers at both two- and four-year institutions of higher education, detailed in an earlier SSTI Digest story, higher ed is facing other threats from looming state budget cuts. While enrollment numbers are still in flux, many universities are already making drastic budget reductions, and that pain will ultimately land on students, which could impact educational attainment and student debt for years.

States experienced jump in personal income in 2nd quarter due to government support

Personal income levels throughout the country received a boost in the second quarter of 2020 through assistance programs from the federal government designed to combat the economic difficulties brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Technology can lead to better jobs, more prosperity says MIT report

After two years of research on technology and jobs, MIT’s Task Force on the Work of the Future has issued its final report, and the news is hopeful: with better policies in place, more people could enjoy good careers even as new technology transforms workplaces.

Fintech lending may increase consumers’ financial vulnerability

Contradictory to the prevailing theory that fintech companies — utilizing cutting-edge algorithms and incorporating data beyond the standard credit reports — have better insights into borrower risk profiles than traditional lenders, new research indicates that fintech borrowers are more likely to default on their loans than their counterparts who utilize traditional banks. In their forthcoming article in The Review of Financial Studies, Marco Di Maggio and Vincent Yao find that fintech companies are actually more reliant on “hard information” than traditional banks and typically acquire market share by first lending to higher-risk borrowers and then to safer borrowers. Although their analysis is based entirely on the personal loans market, the research raises another flag, adding to a growing list of fintech issues ripe for regulation.

GAO: Opportunity Zone program lacks oversight, accountability

Criticism of the federal Opportunity Zone program has been directed at individual examples of questionable tracts for inclusion, the process for selecting tracts in each state, and the merits of some of the development projects underway. For example, some question inclusion of lowlands subject to flooding as sea levels rise with climate change and subsidence, while others raise eyebrows at inclusion of greenfield freeway interchanges or tracts already undergoing gentrification in fast growing cities. Complaints have been raised about projects where the end use (e.g.

Key insights from this year’s Angel Funders Report finds increasing investor optimism, concentration in follow-on deals

The Angel Capital Association has recently released its Angel Funders Report 2020, examining the angel investor landscape through a survey of 76 angel groups and investments made during 2019. While the survey results represent only a portion of the larger angel investment community, the ACA report does provide useful insights into the current trends within the angel funder sphere.

Fed broadens terms of Main Street lending program, more help for small businesses

Amid dwindling hope for a second stimulus package from Congress, the Federal Reserve has widened the terms of its Main Street lending program to better target support for small businesses. According to the new guidelines, the minimum loan size for three Main Street vehicles available to for-profit and non-profit borrowers has been reduced from $250,000 to $100,000. Corresponding fees have also been adjusted to encourage loan dispersal.

SEC finalizes demo days, crowdfunding rules

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) recently published a final rule clarifying acceptable communications during “demo days” and expanding the accessibility of crowdfunding, among other changes. The new rule establishes guidelines to make “demo day” activities exempt from general solicitation requirements.

U.S. falls to 10th in R&D investment intensity, remains first in overall R&D spending

The United States is currently ranked tenth in research and development intensity (a measure of R&D investment as a percent of a nation’s Gross Domestic Product) but has continued to lead the pack in total research and development spending, according to the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) recently published A Snapshot of U.S.

Innovation programs see increases in Senate appropriations bills

The Senate released its draft appropriations bills for FY 2021 this week. Priorities for SSTI’s Innovation Advocacy Council did well, with increases for Build to Scale ($38.5 million, + $5.5 million from FY 2020) and FAST ($5 million, + $2 million) and level funding for Regional Innovation Clusters ($5 million).

Science and innovation highlights within the FY 2021 budget proposal include the following:

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