SSTI Digest

Geography: Tennessee

New Developments in Capital: Strong Results Announced, New Funds Created

In the last month, major new developments have occurred in TBED capital programs. Launch Tennessee and Pittsburgh-based Innovation Works both announced positive findings about the growth of their startup investment ecosystems with $1 billion being raised by Tennessee startups from 2012 to early 2016 and over $279 million invested in Pittsburgh startups in 2015. Meanwhile in Ohio, both Youngstown-based and Cincy-based startups will see an influx of capital, while a new $150 million fund focused on stem cell companies and regions has been launched.

Govs Focus on Education in AL, LA, OK, PA, TN Budget Proposals

SSTI’s analysis of gubernatorial addresses, strategic plans and budget proposals continues this week with highlights from Alabama, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Tennessee. Governors are facing difficult fiscal situations in several of these states, often scaling back tech-based economic development efforts. Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, however, is using a fiscal surplus to invest in higher education and regionally focused economic initiatives.

TN Commits $8M to Support Rural Economic Development

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam recently announced a new fund to support economic development in rural parts of the state. While most of the $8 million (approximately $7 million) is designated for shovel-ready economic development sites and tourism projects, the state will commit $600,000 for economic development grants to support entrepreneurship in small towns across the state including $300,000 to support a Main Street Business Incubator Program for downtown business districts. Launch Tennessee will receive $75,000 for AgLaunch – an agritech-focused business acceleration program developed by Memphis Bioworks Foundation. The state also committed $250,000 for a statewide broadband supply/demand analysis. Read the release:

Tennessee Announces Investment to Establish 100 Ag-Tech Businesses by 2020

Tennessee leaders hope to raise $10 million in public and private funding over the next five years to support an effort to attract 200 agricultural technology entrepreneurs and establish 100 ag-tech businesses by 2020. USDA Rural Development and the Tennessee Department of Agricultural recently announced they would seed that effort by contributing $220,000 to AgLaunch, a program to aid early-stage ag-tech companies. Memphis Bioworks Foundation will lead the initiatives, providing mentoring and programming opportunities for entrepreneurs. The program will begin in 2016.

Budget Update: NE, TN Budgets Fund New Efforts to Boost K-12 STEM

Over the past few months, SSTI has followed proposals issued by governors in their budget requests, State of the State Addresses, Inaugural Speeches and other events. Now that many state legislatures have begun approving budgets, the SSTI Digest will check on the status of these proposals, and examine the state of technology-based economic development funding in the states. This week, we review actions in Tennesse and Nebraska.

States Find New Ways to Expand Access to Higher Education

Forty-one states are spending less per student than before the 2008 recession, according to a recent study from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. As a result, more of the burden of higher education costs is being passed on to students, putting college out of reach for many. With state budgets still tight, many states are experimenting with new ways to make a college education accessible to all students.

Delta Regional Authority Forms 35-Member Public-Private Research, Innovation Consortium

The Delta Regional Authority (DRA) announced the establishment of a consortium for research and innovation that is intended to have a long-term positive economic impact on the region. The 35-member consortium will be comprised of universities and other private and public institutions in eight states – Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee. DRA selected Arkansas State University to lead the consortium and bring together university research officers and local economic development leadership to support the commercialization efforts and economic impacts of research universities in the DRA's footprint. Founding members of the consortium include Delta State University, Louisiana State University, Mississippi State University, Southeast Missouri State University, University of Memphis and University of Tennessee at Martin. Read the announcement…

Tech Talkin' Govs: More Governors Use Addresses to Promote Higher Ed Investments

SSTI's Tech Talkin' Govs series has returned as governors across the country formally convene 2015 legislative sessions. The series highlights new and expanded TBED proposals from governors' State of the State, Budget and Inaugural addresses.

University of Tennessee Awarded $259M National Composites Manufacturing Institute

President Obama recently announced that the University of Tennessee was awarded the $259 million Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI). The U.S. Department of Energy will commit $70 million to support the project with the remaining $189 million coming from IACMI partners including $15 million from the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development. The University of Tennessee will lead the 122-member consortium in its effort to connect the world's leading manufacturers with universities and national laboratories pioneering advanced composites technology development and research. IACMI will focus on advanced fiber-reinforced polymer composites that combine strong fibers with tough plastics. For more information, read the announcement about the IACMI, the White House’s IACMI fact sheet, or visit the IACMI website…

TBED Ballot Issues, Bond Proposals Fare Well in Midterm Elections

In case you missed it, the midterm elections were on Tuesday, resulting in Republicans taking control of Congress, several new governors, and five states endorsing minimum wage increases. Although the 146 state ballot measures up for vote were a quarter-century low, several proposals were relevant to the TBED community, as highlighted in a Digest article last week. Voters ultimately approved many of these proposals, although initiatives related to higher-education in North Dakota and Oregon both failed. 

Ballot Preview: Voters to Decide on Taxes, GMOs, Higher Ed

On November 4, 42 states will vote on 146 ballot issues across a wide array of issues. In addition to initiatives on gun control, bear baiting, and the minimum wage, several initiatives relevant to the TBED community are also up for decision. SSTI has gathered information on many of these and will discuss their results after next week’s elections.

Tennessee Promises Free Community/Technical College Education

Tennessee legislators overwhelmingly approved Gov. Bill Haslam's cornerstone proposal for addressing affordability and accessibility issues plaguing higher education while at the same time making a substantial commitment toward future workforce preparedness: free community/technical college tuition. First unveiled in his February State of the State address, "Tennessee Promise" guarantees every graduating high school student may enjoy tuition-free attendance at any institution within the state's system of community colleges and colleges of applied technology.