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Primer considers policy options that could grow bioeconomy

A new Congressional Research Service (CRS) primer provides an overview of the bioeconomy and offers some potential federal policy considerations for strengthening the competitiveness of the U.S. in the global bioeconomy. Although it does not cover individual sectors that contribute to the bioeconomy, it gives a broad, macro-level perspective that may aid in a general understanding of that segment of the economy. The report offers an overview of past federal and legislative bioeconomy initiatives, but notes that it is not a comprehensive compilation of those activities.

EDA launches $2 million STEM Talent Challenge

The U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) has launched the FY 2021 $2 million STEM Talent Challenge to support programs to train science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) talent and fuel regional innovation economies across the nation.

SBA announces new recipients of FAST awards

Yesterday, the U.S. Small Business Administration issued 33 grant awards up to $125,000 each for specialized training, mentoring, and technical assistance for research and development (R&D)-focused small businesses under the Federal and State Technology (FAST) Partnership Program.  FAST seeks to improve outcomes in the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Programs for underserved communities by increasing participation from women-owned, rural-based, and socially or economically disadvantaged small businesses.

Congress begins work on $3.5 trillion human infrastructure, includes $45 billion for House science to allocate

Early on Wednesday, the Senate passed a budget resolution that will serve as the framework for a human infrastructure bill. The current proposal is for $3.5 trillion in spending. This legislation, should it pass, seems likely to include substantial funding for regional innovation. More specifically, the Senate’s plans indicate that funding would support Regional Technology Hubs and other components of the US Innovation and Competition Act (USICA). 

Useful Stats: Nearly 90 percent of all federal support to colleges and universities for science & engineering in 2019 came from just three agencies

Federal funding is a major source of support for the science and engineering (S&E) activities of the nation’s institutions of higher education (IHEs). This week’s edition of Useful Stats shows that in 2019 (the most recent year for which data is available), the vast majority — 87.6 percent or $33.4 billion— of that federal support came from only three agencies: the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the Department of Defense (DoD).

Some universities canceling student debt

In an unexpected turn of events, some college students around the country have been logging into their accounts to check on account balances and finding them canceled. Many institutions of higher education across the country have been taking advantage of federal assistance provided through the CARES Act Higher Education Emergency Relief funds (HEERF) to cancel student debt. HEERF I, II and III represent three programs that Congress appropriated to higher education to help prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus, including emergency financial grants to students.

Useful Stats: Federal support to colleges and universities for science & engineering by state and type of activity, 2019

Developing local assets and nurturing local talent in science and engineering (S&E) is paramount to productive innovation economies. Institutions of higher education (IHEs) are arguably the most important elements of these local knowledge-capital assets — housing physical R&D infrastructure, training new scientists and engineers, and creating and disseminating new knowledge across the academic, public, and private sectors.

NSF commits $50M to broaden STEM participation

The U.S. National Science Foundation has announced the establishment of five new NSF INCLUDES Alliances to enhance preparation, increase participation and ensure the inclusion of individuals from historically underrepresented groups in science, technology, engineering and mathematics education. The investment is part of an effort to address diversity, inclusion and participation challenges in STEM at a national scale.

NSF’s 11 new AI institutes total $220M and expand reach to 40 states

The National Science Foundation has announced the establishment of 11 new NSF National Artificial Intelligence Research Institutes, reaching a combined investment of $220 million and including a total of 40 states when adding the original seven institutes announced last year. The institutes are expected to act as connections in a broader nationwide network and will be led by NSF in partnership with the U.S.

Regional innovation highlights in infrastructure bill

Editor’s note: The Senate passed the Infrastructure and Investment Jobs Act on Aug. 10, 2021. This article has been updated to reflect the final amendments and new information on next steps for the legislation.

SSTI provides brief on SSBCI

The American Rescue Plan Act provides $10 billion for the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) as part of the national response to the coronavirus pandemic-induced recession. This funding is unlike other small business assistance programs funded during the emergency so far in that SSBCI specifically provides funds to states — at least $56 million per state — to use for their own capital access initiatives, including programs that make investments in small businesses.

VCs invest at historic levels, but deal funnel shifting

The PitchBook-NVCA Venture Capital Monitor for the first half of 2021 reveals that the market is set to break a number of investing records, but strikingly, the record levels of investment activity are all being set by the later stages of investment. At the other end of the funnel, activity is increasing, but not at the same pace as the overall market.

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