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SSTI Digest

$2.6 billion allocated to protect coastal communities and restore marine resources

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has released its plans to invest $2.6 billion in coastal resilience funded by the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). These funds will support communities on the frontlines of climate change, restore marine resources, improve weather and climate data and services, strengthen NOAA's research airplane and ship fleet, invest in critical infrastructure, and more. Of particular interest to Digest readers will be funding for ocean-based climate resilience accelerators and climate-ready workforce.

Some Republican Governors exerting influence over state higher education and DEI

Republican dissatisfaction with colleges and universities has been growing for some time. The Pew Research Center detected growing discontent with colleges and universities in 2012 and found that from 2015 to 2019, the number of individuals saying colleges and universities have a negative effect on the country went from 37% to 59%. This increase happened among Republicans, while Democrats and independents who lean Democratic remained largely stable and overwhelmingly positive. This trend is now apparent from recent legislation and political direction from conservative Republican states. Anti-DEI bills have been signed into law in North Dakota and Tennessee, and Florida has signed two anti-DEI bills into law. Texas has final legislative approval on two bills.

Type 1 recipient shares four elements to their successful NSF Engine proposal

NSF designed the recently awarded NSF Engine Type 1 development awards to bring technology-based solutions to bear on many critical challenges facing our nation. These challenges include climate change and sustainability, and this week we are highlighting three SSIT members whose NSF Engine proposals focus on sustainability. SSTI member-led projects related to sustainability include the University of Texas at Austin’s project to research and develop energy and train the next-generation energy professionals (SSTI member Sandia National Laboratories is on this team), The Water Council’s project to advance water and energy technologies for the manufacturing and utilities sectors (SSTI member Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation is a partner), and the University of Hawai’i’s project to create a climate-resilient food innovation network.

Innovation landscapes: The changing role of corporate research

Corporate laboratories were hotspots for U.S. innovation for most of the twentieth century. Large firms, such as DuPont or Bell Labs, acted as epicenters for research and development activities, driving investment in frontier technologies underserved by university researchers at the time. By the 1980s, however, many of these powerhouses of industrial research began to cut back on their research programs, paving the way for universities and startups to emerge as new centers of innovation.

Texas aims to lead the future of semiconductor manufacturing

Just before the 2023 Memorial Day weekend, the Texas Senate passed and sent the Texas CHIPS Act bill to the governor’s desk. The legislation creates the Texas Semiconductor Innovation Consortium in a bid to protect the state’s competitive standing for future federal funding and authorizes the Texas Semiconductor Innovation Fund. The recently passed Texas budget appropriates $1.3 million for the Consortium, but it does not appear that there is a dedicated appropriation in the budget bill for the Fund.

NSF Engines muster local resources to compete with Silicon Valley and Boston

The recently awarded NSF Engine Type 1 development awards are intended to bring technology-based economic development to vast swaths of the US landscape, including those that Silicon Valley and Boston have long overshadowed. This week we kick off an examination of some of the proposals led by SSTI members that were selected by NSF for funding.

New resource: SSTI releases first video on federal funding sources

Have you ever wondered whether there is a federal program that supports tech-based economic development (TBED) strategies and initiatives--even if it doesn’t explicitly state that science, technology, innovation, or entrepreneurship are priority uses of funds? Actually, a wide variety of federal programs can support these programs. To help organizations identify sources of funding that could be useful, SSTI interviewed representatives from the Economic Development Administration (EDA) to understand better how they can use specific funding opportunities to support TBED activities.

Department of Education proposes new rules to impact gainful employment

Each year, more than 703,000 federally aided students enroll in one of the 1,800 career training programs, according to a Department of Education fact sheet. Unfortunately, the typical graduate of these programs leaves with unaffordable debt or earns less than a high school graduate in their state. Sometimes, these programs shut down with little warning, leaving students in the lurch. A recent study from the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association and the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center showed that, of closures that took place over 16 years, 70 percent of the students received insufficient warning that the closures were coming. The federal government absorbs the cost of many of these students’ loans, which they pass on to taxpayers.

EDA releases $50 million Build to Scale Funding Opportunity

Earlier today, the Economic Development Administration (EDA) announced the 2023 notice of funding opportunity (NOFO) for the Build to Scale program. State and local governments, nonprofits, higher education institutions, National Labs, and others can compete for $50 million to support new and expanded initiatives supporting regional commercialization, entrepreneurship, and capital formation efforts.

Large percentage of Americans report they’re struggling to make ends meet

Almost 40% of American adults report they struggle to make ends meet each month, an increase from 34.4% in 2022 and 26.7% in 2021. At 46.2%, Louisiana had the highest percentage reporting financial struggles followed by Mississippi (45.7%) and Arkansas (45.6%). Additionally, 11.3% of adults in households in the U.S. experienced some or very frequent times when they did not have enough to eat from April 26 through May 17, 2023. That percentage fell below the national average in 24 states, with Louisiana weighing in with more people (15.6%) going hungry than anywhere else. Meanwhile, people in Montana (5.9%) reported the lowest level of struggling with hunger during the same period.

New funding opportunities support the electrification of America's transportation sector

Residents in disadvantaged communities could soon see progress toward equitable availability of clean mobility options due to two recent initiatives from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)'s Vehicle Technologies Office (VTO). A new funding opportunity from VTO brings $99.5 million in addition to the current selection of 45 projects totaling $87 million. DOE designed both to help to “onshore and re-shoring domestic manufacturing of key technologies and infrastructure that are critical to reaching the nation’s clean transportation future.”

Comments to the USPTO regarding AI and inventorship

More than 50% of the patents granted in 2020 were related to AI, according to a USPTO report. Considering this large volume of AI-related patents, the office recently sought feedback regarding AI inventorship. Key points made by AUTM, BIO, Google, IBM, and Microsoft are summarized here.