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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.


State economic development directors bring varied backgrounds to role

The 20 new governors elected last November are filling out their appointments, and SSTI’s analysis of those named as state economic development directors reveals an array of backgrounds leading into their new roles. New Republican governors have shown a greater propensity to choose a leader with an industry background, while new Democratic governors have been more likely to appoint  directors with economic development experience. From a former U.S.

Report reveals importance of foreign policy to middle class’ economic standing

The state of America’s foreign policy and the livelihoods of its middle-class are inextricably linked, according to a new report from Ohio State’s John Glenn College of Public Affairs and Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. The report’s authors, using Ohio as a lens for their examination, conduct a thorough quantitative and qualitative analysis on this relationship.

SSTI Feature: Epicenter Memphis seeking big impact in regional innovation network

A note from the publisher (aka, Dan Berglund): Two of the most frequent questions SSTI staff is asked are: “What program, initiative, movement has piqued your interest?” and, “Who should we be watching and learning from?” While the answers are somewhat implied in what we cover in The Digest, host webinars on, and feature in conference content, look for occasional pieces in 2019 labeled “SSTI Feature” that offer a sampling of our answers to those questions.

Startups, investors may bear brunt of escalating US-China tensions

Last week, U.S. trade representatives traveled to Beijing for a round of trade talks with the hope of coming to an agreement that would end the U.S.-Chinese trade dispute. Alongside large corporations, many U.S. tech startups are watching the results of these talks with a close eye because they face significant concerns over the impact that increased tariffs will have on their business. But while tariffs have garnered most of the press attention, U.S. startups also face reduced access to foreign capital, increased regulatory scrutiny, and potential talent issues. Conversely, China is developing new strategies to ensure that more investment dollars will remain in their domestic startup capital community.

Tech Talkin’ Govs 2019, part 2: Broadband, education, climate change fixes on governors’ radars

Reviewing another slate of governors’ state of the state and inaugural addresses reveals some recurring themes. With a focus on maintaining gains made since the Great Recession and increasing budgets, many governors are holding off on major new initiatives, but are proposing means to increase broadband access, diversify their economies, build renewable energy efforts, and increase their rainy day funds in case of an economic downturn. SSTI presents part 2 of our Tech Talkin’ Govs series, with coverage of governors in Colorado, Connecticut, Oregon, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming.

Tech Talkin’ Govs 2019, part 1: Governors unveil broadband, workforce, and research proposals to build economies

With 36 governors being sworn in following the November elections, 20 of those being new faces and 16 who were re-elected, this year’s inaugural and state of the state addresses promise new ideas along with proposed resolutions to existing challenges. As the governors present their plans to constituents, SSTI revisits our Tech Talkin’ Govs series.

NIST tech transfer recommendations a good starting point, more is needed

NIST released a draft paper in December making recommendations for improvements to federal technology transfer and commercialization policy. The agency’s ideas ranged from clarifying march-in rights to compelling agency participation in technology entrepreneurship development. Although NIST is one of the agencies affected by the shutdown, comments on the draft paper were due Jan. 9.

NSF: States’ increase R&D spending; surpasses $2.5 billion in FY 2017

States invested $1.1 billion into health-related R&D expenditures in FY 2017 according to the newest results from the annual survey of state government R&D, conducted by the National Science Foundation.  Increasing by 13 percent from the previous year, health-related R&D helped push overall state government spending on R&D up by 7 percent over the 2016 figures. State investments in energy-related R&D, on the other hand, dropped by 16.6 percent ($61 million) to a total of $307 million in FY 2017.

BFTP programs boost PA economy by $4.1 billion over five years

An independent economic analysis of the Ben Franklin Technology Partners reveals its impact on Pennsylvania’s economy — boosting the overall economy by $4.1 billion between 2012 and 2016, helping to create 11,407 high-paying jobs and generating $385 million in tax receipts for the state. Because the jobs were created in industries that pay 52 percent higher than the average nonfarm salary in Pennsylvania, the impact on the state’s GSP was greater, according to the report.

Useful Stats: State government investments in R&D, 2012-2017

Every state government invested at least $1.0 million in research and development in FY 2017, according to recent data from the National Science Foundation’s National Center for Science and Education Statistics. During the three-year period from FY 2015 to FY 2017, California ($551.8 million per year), New York ($403.2 million per year), and Texas ($244.9 million per year) state governments averaged the most R&D expenditures. In FY 2017, these three states accounted for 49.8 percent of the national total, up from 45.6 percent of the total invested by state governments in 2012.

SSTI submits OZ comments to IRS

This fall, the IRS released proposed Opportunity Zone rules, which did not address several key questions for business investment. SSTI submitted comments for official consideration last week, requesting that rules clarify initial investment periods, interim returns and qualifying business activity locations. Several organizations echoed similar concerns, including the U.S. Conference of Mayors and U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Other comments posted to the site include calls for requirements that would facilitate greater impact, including screening potential bad actors, encouraging investments in ESOPs, and measuring economic impacts for current zone residents. Read SSTI’s full letter

No budget, but lame duck Congress passes innovation bills

While Congress was unable to pass a budget before funding ran out, legislators did advance multiple innovation-related proposals. Here is a quick summary of what the lame duck session did (and did not do) for tech-based economic development.

New legislative activity during the lame duck session:

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