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    SSTI and conference host Rhode Island Commerce Corporation invite you to join your peers for conversations around emerging challenges and opportunities related to science, tech, innovation & entrepreneurship.

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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.


New program seeks to boost Minnesota’s innovation economy

Funds for entrepreneurial training, technical assistance with R&D, and matching grants for innovative small businesses are among the items now part of Minnesota’s economic development toolkit thanks to new funding in the state’s recently signed FY 2020 biennial budget. Under the approved budget, Launch Minnesota will receive $2.5 million in each of the next two fiscal years to support innovation and entrepreneurship. Originally called the Minnesota Innovation Collaborative in Gov.

Ignoring Industry 4.0 leaves firms vulnerable

Federal and private R&D portfolios are investing heavily in designing and refining the key innovation components of the transition to cyber-physical systems of production: artificial intelligence, automation, IoT, advanced materials, and dynamic, decentralized decision making to name a few elements. There also is a fair amount of buzz about Industry 4.0 from the big manufacturing consultants and around industry trade shows.  Innovation and optimization, however, appear to be two very distant points on a continuum for both U.S.

What are mayors talking about? NLC explores top trending topics

The National League of Cities (NLC) recently released its sixth State of the Cities report, an analysis of the year’s state of the city speeches. It identifies and examines the top 10 issues that mayors are discussing and provides analyses on regional and subtopic trends.

Focus on inclusive ecosystems to build entrepreneurship and growth

A new report from the Kansas City Federal Reserve and Opportunity HUB (OHUB) reveals the importance of building an inclusive entrepreneurship ecosystem. Authored by Dell Gines of the Kansas City Federal Reserve and Rodney Sampson, chairman and chief executive officer of Opportunity Hub, the report examines how entrepreneurship ecosystem building has lacked an emphasis on issues of diversity, equity and inclusion.

Useful Stats: Overall R&D intensity by state (2002-2016)

How has the intensity of research and development (R&D) performance changed across states and over time? As a follow up to an article in last week’s Digest that examined changes in total R&D expenditures for each state over the 15-year period from 2002 to 2016, this week’s Useful Stats focuses on R&D intensity.

Must Read: An Economist’s Argument for TBED

It is extremely rare for SSTI to use those first two words in a Digest headline. We feel that compulsion today because of a unique (using its original OED definition of “first/one of a kind”) monograph prepared by Greg Tassey, an esteemed economist who served for much of his career as Senior Economist for the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Throughout his work, he has focused an economist’s lens on public policy’s role in technology, standards, economic growth, and industrial innovation, among other related topics.

Top questions to ask when planning an innovation district

Innovation districts show promise as an economic development tool, but there are a range of questions policymakers, practitioners and planners should consider prior to and while pursuing the strategy, according to new research from RTI International’s Center for Applied Economics and Strategy.

How SBIR/STTR spent $2.7 billion in FY 2016

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) released its FY 2016 annual report for the $2.4 billion obligated by the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program and $313.6 million by the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. The report includes the number and dollar amount of SBIR and STTR awards for each state. New Phase I SBIR awards by agency are summarized in the following table.

Useful Stats: Total research and development performance by state (2002-2016)

Despite its limitations, publicly available data on research and development (R&D) expenditures remains one of the best metrics for measuring state progress in the innovation economy. Defined as the sum of multiple National Science Foundation (NSF) measures – including business and industry R&D, higher education R&D, and R&D at federally funded centers – total R&D has skyrocketed nationwide over the past 15 years, though some states have experienced an outsized portion of this growth. Where has total R&D performance increased the most over the past 15 years?

St. Louis Fed: Financial distress increasing fastest in poorest ZIP codes

Although the national recovery has been positive since 2010 by nearly every aggregate measure, underneath this rosy narrative lies considerable differences at the ZIP code level within and across cities and states, according to new research from Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.  In The Unequal Recovery: Measuring Financial Distress by ZIP Code, authors Ryan Mather and Juan Sanchez analyze changes in wealth, debt, and financial distress across the country and over time, specifically looking at the percentage of people within a ZIP code that have reached at least 80 percent of their credit limit. They find that, despite improvements throughout the majority of the country between 2010 and 2015, financial distress accelerated in the period from 2015 to 2018. Importantly, they also find that levels of financial distress have risen fastest in the poorest ZIP codes since 2015, which increases their vulnerability to future economic downturns. 

Upjohn: ROI of Manufacturing Extension Partnership eclipses 14:1

The National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) Program generates a sizeable financial return on investment for the federal government, according to a recent study by the Michigan-based W.E. Upjohn Institute. The $140 million invested in MEP during FY 2018 by the federal government generated more than $2.0 billion in increased federal personal income tax, a ROI of roughly 14.4:1 according to Upjohn researchers Jim Robey, Randall Eberts, Brian Pittelko, and Claudette Robey. Based on direct, indirect, and induced jobs generated by projects at MEP centers, the authors also find evidence that total employment in the U.S. was nearly 240,000 jobs higher than it would have been without the program.

Report identifies novel approaches to supporting energy hardware innovation

Emerging over the past five years, novel approaches to supporting early-stage cleantech development have the potential to ease the transition from invention to marketplace, according to new research from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s (NREL) Innovation & Entrepreneurship Center for the Joint Institute for Strategic Energy Analysis. The report provides a comparison of some of the nation’s most notable cleantech incubators and accelerators, finding that each organization fills a unique niche and competition among them is not an issue.

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