• SSTI poll shows overwhelming support for innovation platform

    More than 90 percent of the electorate support expanded efforts to strengthen the key elements of a knowledge-driven economy. Members can sign up for a webinar on how the poll can inform your communications.

  • Become an SSTI Member

    As the most comprehensive resource available for those involved in technology-based economic development, SSTI offers the services that are needed to help build tech-based economies.  Learn more about membership...

  • Subscribe to the SSTI Weekly Digest

    Each week, the SSTI Weekly Digest delivers the latest breaking news and expert analysis of critical issues affecting the tech-based economic development community. Subscribe today!

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.


Endless Frontier Act would expand federal science, innovation competitiveness

Last week, a bipartisan, bicameral group of legislators reintroduced the Endless Frontier Act, a bill that would authorize more than $112 billion over five years for new research and commercialization activities within the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Department of Commerce. This proposal would establish multiple tools at each agency to support regional innovation economies. Sen.

American Families Plan outlines investments for human side of nation’s competitiveness

In 2014, Tennessee’s Republican governor, Bill Haslam, created the nation’s first program to ensure high school graduates could attend community and technical college tuition-free, Tennessee Promise.  While several states have followed suit in one form or another, President Joe Biden wants to take the concept nationwide with the federal government footing $109 billion of the bill through his American Families Plan.

Castillo nominated to lead EDA

President Joe Biden has nominated Alejandra Y. Castillo to serve as the next assistant secretary for economic development in the U.S. Department of Commerce. If confirmed, she will have a unique opportunity to leave a significant imprint on regional efforts toward growing prosperity as a result of the $3 billion appropriated to the Economic Development Administration in March through the America Rescue Plan Act. 

State leaders zero in on recovery in budget proposals, state addresses

As state budgets move into the legislatures for final negotiations and approvals, the last of the governors have addressed their constituents and put forth their proposals. While a renewed sense of hope is seeping into the latest addresses, governors are still cautious and guarded in proposing new programs. Broadband, small business, education and workforce initiatives continue to be among the innovation-related initiatives announced by the state leaders, with the intent that those efforts will also boost the economic recovery of the states.

Equity, tech-based economic development and sustainability included in EDA’s updated investment priorities

As the new administration settles in, the Economic Development Administration (EDA) has updated its investment priorities — the guiding principles behind all of its competitive grants. Changes to the priorities are outlined below so that participants in local innovation economies are better able to align their proposed programs to these federal priorities.

Need for smart, public, earliest stage money never greater, latest VC data indicates

If venture capital was water, then sea levels continue to rise.  Yet more and more innovation-based startups across the country seemingly are being left high and dry as private venture capitalists continue to push their money into bigger, later stage deals. Investors seem increasingly set to cruise toward cashing in on the currently hot exit path of public listings.

DoD and Commerce seeking comments on supply chain rules

The Department of Defense is seeking comments and information on President Biden’s Executive Order, “America’s Supply Chains,” which directs several federal agency actions to secure and strengthen the country’s supply chains. The U.S. Department of Commerce is also seeking public input on a licensing or other pre-clearance process for entities engaging in certain information and communications technology and services transactions (ICTS Transactions).

Commentary: Providing context for the Biden skinny budget

A presidential budget provides, in theory, a strategic vision for the more than $1 trillion in annual, discretionary spending of the federal government. In practice, Congress will pass a spending bill that reflects its own will. The value of the president’s budget is the window it offers into the administration’s priorities. The Biden-Harris Administration’s skinny budget indicates priorities that should excite those working to build regional innovation economies.

Science and innovation prominent in Biden’s budget

Last week, the Biden-Harris administration released an initial budget proposal for FY 2022 discretionary appropriations. The document (referred to in Washington as a “skinny budget,” not because of the overall size of spending but because it serves as more of an outline or framework for the full budget proposal which will come in May) clearly emphasizes the importance of climate change, economic opportunity, equity and health as cross-cutting priorities. For regional innovation economies, these priorities would translate into significant increases in R&D funding, as well as additional funds for tech-based economic development activities.

The budget document that is available now is not a full presidential budget recommendation, which is expected in mid-May and, therefore, does not provide a suggested funding level for every federal initiative. Instead, the budget is a messaging document highlighting new efforts and existing activities that the administration would like to expand or otherwise emphasize. This insight into the president’s priorities is particularly useful early in the administration, when the government has not had much of an opportunity to shape programs through actions.

Highlights from the budget proposal by agency are available below.

EDA awards $29 million in SPRINT Challenge grants

A total of $29 million in grants will be awarded to 44 organizations across the country as part of the Scaling Pandemic Resilience through Innovation and Technology (SPRINT) Challenge provided by the Economic Development Administration. The SPRINT Challenge, with grants ranging from between $200,000 to $750,000, was developed last year with the goal of addressing the health and economic risks brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic through investments in entrepreneurship and innovation.

A look at the state-level focus on broadband

While the new administration is rolling out a new infrastructure proposal that includes $100 billion over an 8-year period for greater broadband coverage and affordability, the states have been busy in 2021 with their own broadband proposals. Governors across the country are responding to the digital divide that became even more obvious during the pandemic as students struggled to access online learning, individuals turned to the internet for telehealth appointments, and much of the workforce pivoted to remote work arrangements.

Useful Stats: Higher Ed R&D expenditures and personnel in nonmetropolitan areas, 2019

Although the nation’s nonmetropolitan economies are less reliant on the R&D activity performed by institutions of higher education than the economies of urban areas, researchers in some rural areas show levels of higher education R&D (HERD) expenditures per R&D employee that are on par, or even exceed, their urban counterparts. Policy makers may wish to consider and prioritize the relative “outsized” importance of HERD funding and related research personnel in future policy decisions and public investments that are geared toward select smaller communities and rural places.

Pages