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SSTI members support innovation programs on the Hill

March 23, 2023

The SSTI Innovation Advocacy Council continues to work toward additional appropriations for Regional Technology and Innovation Hubs, Build to Scale, and the Federal and State Technology (FAST) Partnership. This week, the Council facilitated meetings with SSTI members and congressional offices to discuss funding priorities. SSTI also released a letter signed by 70 national and regional entities that support fully-funding the Tech Hubs program.

During the meetings, offices across the Hill expressed support for the SSTI Innovation Advocacy Council’s priority programs. However, staff do not yet have sufficient clarity about the FY 2024 budget levels or process to know how this support may translate into actual funding.

Matt Riehl with JumpStart and Markus Videnieks with Lorain County Community College were among the SSTI members participating in Hill Day this week in Washington, D.C.

Tom Womack with AgLaunch and Lindsey Cox with Launch TN met with the Tennessee delegation during the SSTI Innovation Advocacy Council Hill Day.

Interested organizations can support SSTI's efforts to bolster these programs by adding their name to the Tech Hubs letter of support (an updated version will be shared in late April) or by joining the SSTI Innovation Advocacy Council. Contact Jason Rittenberg (rittenberg@ssti.org) to learn more.

The full text of the letter of support for Tech Hubs funding is below.


Dear Chairs Shaheen and Rogers and Ranking Members Moran and Cartwright:

Thank you for your ongoing support for initiatives that strengthen regional economies through investments in science, technology, innovation and entrepreneurship. We particularly want to share our appreciation for the Regional Technology and Innovation Hubs program at the U.S. Department of Commerce receiving a $500 million appropriation in the Fiscal Year 2023 funding bill.

As envisioned in the bipartisan CHIPS and Science Act, Regional Technology and Innovation Hubs enables Commerce to make investments that will catalyze significant improvements in the capacity of regions to compete in the global, technology-focused economy. The U.S. has a few regions that already are world-leading in their sectors; Silicon Valley and software or Boston and biotechnology are two examples. Many regions of the country have strengths in one or more elements of a thriving regional innovation economy, such as commercially-relevant research or a tech-focused industry cluster, but need a catalyst this program can provide to fully-realize their potential as they compete against China and other countries in the global economy.

The need for Regional Technology and Innovation Hubs can be seen from the national response to the Build Back Better Regional Challenge. This initiative, funded through a one-time appropriation in the American Rescue Plan Act, asked a coalition of organizations to propose multiple projects organized around a single industry sector in their region. As evidence of the strong interest in a region-wide model like that envisioned for Regional Technology and Innovation Hubs, Commerce received 529 initial applications (of which just 21 received Phase 2 awards) for the Build Back Better Regional Challenge.

As described in the legislation, Commerce will accept proposals from regional consortia of industry, public and nonprofit organization — a mix of partners that will ensure broad buy-in and market relevance — to first be designated as a hub and then to provide funding that is both substantial and covers multiple years. The scale of the funding to be provided is integral to the program’s success, as funding levels and duration are critical to encouraging complementary and follow-on investment and activity from industry, as well as foundations, state governments and other institutions.

The $500 million investment Congress made last year in Regional Technology and Innovation Hubs was an important down payment for the program. This appropriation enables EDA to fully-fund strategy development activities (authorized at $50 million) and to begin making implementation awards.

Achieving the CHIPS and Science Act’s vision of a program that will catalyze a new wave of globally-competitive regions, however, requires investment on the scale of the program’s $10 billion authorization.

As you develop the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies appropriations bills for FY 2024, we ask you to prioritize Regional Technology and Innovation Hubs and provide an appropriation that matches the program’s authorized level. The U.S. needs to see more regions leading in the global economy, and this requires more regions at the cutting-edge of important technology sectors. The earlier we make an investment in our regions, the sooner we can see the benefits.

We thank you again for your continued support and consideration.

See the pdf version for the list of 70 organizations that have signed the letter.

ssti, congress, IAC, fy24budget