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Final FY 2018 budget increases Regional Innovation, MEP, NSF

March 22, 2018
By: Jason Rittenberg

With final passage and signage pending at the time of publication, the federal budget for FY 2018 provides relatively strong support for innovation economies. The Regional Innovation Strategies program is funded at $21 million, MEP at $140 million and the National Science Foundation at $7.8 billion, increases for all organizations. Other notable innovation programs receiving at least level funding are SBA’s cluster and accelerator programs, DOE’s ARPA-E, NASA science and the National Institutes of Health. Numerous stakeholders weighed in with Congress to preserve these priorities over the administration’s FY 2018 request — and FY 2019 faces the same challenges.

Funding for innovation organizations

The Regional Innovation program at EDA is set to receive $21 million in the budget bill, matching the number introduced in the Senate. The $4 million increase over FY 2017 is sufficient funding for eight additional i6 awards.

The Manufacturing Extension Partnership at the National Institute of Standards & Technology is appropriated $140 million in the bill, an increase of $10 million over FY 2017 and $134 million more than the administration’s request for the year. However, this portion of NIST’s budget is level as the Manufacturing USA initiative will receive $15 million for centers and coordination, a $10 million cut from FY 2017.

SBA’s Regional Innovation Clusters program is set to receive level funding of $5 million, and the Growth Accelerators will also see level funding of $1 million. Both initiatives are part of SBA’s entrepreneurial development programs, which collectively received a $2 million increase to $247 million for FY 2018.

The Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) Fund will receive $250 million in FY 2018, an increase of $2 million. The fund’s financial and technical assistance programs are directed to utilize at least $160 million of that. This amount is $1.5 million less than the floor set in FY 2017, and the office will determine whether the total funding awarded to those programs decreases.

Funding for R&D

The National Science Foundation is set to receive a total of $7.8 billion for FY 2018, with an increase of $297 million for research and related activities. The bill does not provide many details for the spending, but funds are dedicated for Informal STEM Learning ($62.5 million) and STEM+Computing Partnerships ($51.9 million) and includes $170.7 million for EPSCoR. NSF’s budget justification and strategic plan indicate that the agency is likely to increase I-Corps funding.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration will see total funding of $20.7 billion in FY 2018, a $1.1 billion increase. This amount includes $6.2 billion for science, an increase of $457 million over FY 2017.

The National Institutes of Health are funded at $37.1 billion for FY 2018, an increase of $3 billion. Apart from per-institute funding levels, the bill does not detail specific requirements for much of this amount. However, NIH is directed to increase the number of new research grants and the number of awards going to younger and first-time researchers.

The Department of Energy’s Office of Science will see $6.3 billion under the deal, an increase of $867 million. ARPA-E, which the administration has proposed to eliminate, will see an increase of $47 million over FY 2017 to $277 million.

Next Steps

The bill has not yet passed Congress nor been signed into law. The Senate may not finish its deliberations before the current funding resolution expires Friday night. However, short of a presidential veto, the bill is expected to pass in its current form.

Appropriations committees have already started work on the FY 2019 budget. A number of wildcards may again affect the timing of this process, including a new Senate appropriations committee chair and the possibility that the House will reassess its entire budget process. Nonetheless, the FY 2019 has been proceeding under “normal order” with House members already having made their appropriations requests to the committee.

Contact Jason Rittenberg at 614-901-1690 or rittenberg@ssti.org to find out how you can help SSTI inform congress about the innovation priorities that matter to your region.

federal budget, fy18budget, eda, sba, nsf, nih