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Election implications for federal TBED policy still TBD

As of Thursday morning, party control of both chambers of Congress is undetermined, as final outcomes remain unknown for 44 House seats and three Senate seats (per the AP). Chamber control may drive the size of the next few federal budgets — affecting opportunities for additional science and innovation funding — and determines who will be chair versus ranking member of committees. Regardless of the electoral outcomes, however, many of the relevant leaders will be unknown until committee assignments occur next year. At a minimum: the Senate appropriations committee will replace the Democratic and Republican leaders; the Senate commerce and small business committees will see new Republican leaders; the House science committee will have a new Democratic leader; and, the House small business committee will have a new Republican leader. SSTI will post updates as those results are available.

Ballot measures affecting state economies face varied results

Voters across the country faced a number of ballot measures in Tuesday’s election that could in turn affect the innovation economy in their states. Bond issues affecting higher education were approved in New Mexico and Rhode Island, while the vote is still being counted in Arizona, which considered a measure that would allow more aid for non-citizens of the state pursuing higher education. Massachusetts voters narrowly passed the millionaires tax on the ballot there, with education and transportation reaping the increase in revenues, while California voters turned down a similar tax that would have benefitted zero-emission vehicle subsidies and wildfire suppression. The environment was a winner in a New York $4.2 billion bond proposal as was broadband expansion in Alabama. Several states considered changes to the rules affecting their legislators, elections and ballot initiatives with mixed results.   Read more below for a breakdown of results on ballot initiatives that could affect states’ innovation economies.

Gubernatorial elections retain power for incumbents, women gain more seats

Thirty-six states held gubernatorial contests in Tuesday’s (Nov. 8) mid-term elections. By the end of the night and as of this writing Thursday morning, winners in 32 states had been chosen, with votes still being tallied in Alaska, Arizona, Nevada, and Oregon.

NSF builds semiconductor workforce through concurrent Micron and Intel partnerships

In an effort to alleviate the nationwide shortage of semiconductors, the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) announced two cross-sector partnerships, one with Intel Corp. and the other partnership with Micron Technology, Inc. NSF plans to invest $10 million in combination with the companies from each partnership in support of research, education, infrastructure building, and workforce development for semiconductor design and manufacturing.

Some state ballot measures hold potential to affect innovation economy

With 133 ballot measures before voters on Nov. 8, a gamut of topics will be decided. Those outlined below are the measure that could affect the innovation economy, ranging from initiatives that would affect higher education, to broadband expansion and measures intended to boost state economies.

NSF awards $40 million to help build diverse STEM workforce

The National Science Foundation recently announced the four 2022 NSF INCLUDES awardees. These new alliances will each receive $10 million over five years to contribute to building an inclusive STEM workforce. The awardees will tackle issues like increasing data science capacity at minority-serving institutions (MSIs), increasing the representation of Native American and Alaska Native students in STEM fields, and supporting equitable pathways to postdoctoral fellowship positions.

New National Defense Strategy stresses investing in emerging technologies

The 2022 National Defense Strategy, released last week, emphasizes the need to accelerate the Pentagon’s capacity for buying and deploying emerging technologies. Technology sectors called out as targets include advanced materials, artificial intelligence, biotechnology, clean energy, directed energy, hypersonics, microelectronics, quantum science and space. The report indicates that the Department of Defense (DOD) is considering R&D funding, ecosystem support and adapting civilian technologies among the tools it will use to pursue emerging tech.

Election 2022: Gubernatorial campaigns reveal positions on innovation initiatives

Thirty-six states are holding gubernatorial elections this November, with voters in eight of those states (Arizona, Arkansas, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, and Oregon), choosing a new governor to replace a term-limited incumbent. In two states, Connecticut and Georgia, the incumbent is facing a re-match with their 2018 opponent, while in Alaska and Maine, the incumbent is being challenged by his/her predecessor, whom they defeated in 2018. Florida Gov. Ron De Santis is being challenged by former Gov. Charlie Crist, who previously switched his party affiliation from Republican to Democrat. In five states — Alabama, Arizona, Iowa, Michigan, and Oregon ­— women incumbent governors and opposing candidates are competing to either retain or gain the executive seat.

NSF announces new $30M program to grow the nation’s STEM workforce

The National Science Foundation (NSF) recently announced a new initiative — the Experiential Learning for Emerging and Novel Technologies (ExLENT) initiative and seeks proposals to address barriers in the STEM workforce by encouraging partnerships among industry, educational, and government organizations. The program estimates giving out 25 to 35 ExLENT awards that will last up to three years with a total budget of up to $1,000,000, with a total anticipated funding amount of $30 million. This initiative is part of a larger effort to expand the STEM workforce needed to solve significant societal challenges like climate change and clean energy and address rapidly evolving emerging technologies.

Would an increase in the quantity of NIH SBIR awards impact their overall quality?

In a recent study titled Does NIH select the right healthcare ventures through the SBIR grant program?, researchers from Rutgers University and the University of Connecticut took advantage of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to conduct a natural experiment. The opportunity was available due to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) decision to use ARRA dollars to fund additional Phase I SBIR awards from general SBIR competitions, and the researchers compared these 19 ARRA-funded awards to the other 479 Phase I awards that were first funded in the same competitions with regular appropriations.

Higher Education enrollment continues to decline; admissions officers reveal concerns over early numbers

Higher education enrollment dropped 1.1% between fall 2021 and 2022, a slight reprieve from historic COVID-induced drop-offs, as revealed by new preliminary data from the National Student Clearinghouse. Since fall 2020, enrollment has decreased by a combined 3.2% for graduate and undergraduate enrollment, representing a drop of approximately 1.5 million students since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

2020 BERD data shows an increase of over $45 billion in domestic R&D spending

Despite COVID-induced setbacks continuing to keep some people out of offices and laboratories, new Business Enterprise Research and Development Survey (BERD) data reveals that domestic research and development (R&D) spending, although slowing, is still on an uptrend. From 2018 to 2019, business R&D spending increased by 11.8% (from approximately $441 billion to $492 billion), with new data showing a further increase of 9.1% from 2019 to 2020 ($492 billion to $538 billion).

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