• SSTI's 2018 Annual Conference - December 3-5 in Salt Lake City

    The agenda and brochure are now online for SSTI's 2018 Annual Conference: Navigating the New Innovation Landscape. 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.


MTI stakeholder engagement process sparks programmatic changes

While it has enjoyed a long history of success, the Maine Technology Institute (MTI) knew it was time to update its processes when it found itself hampered by long-standing practices. Founded in 1999, the Maine Technology Institute (MTI) is an industry-led, state-funded, nonprofit organization and among the nation’s oldest state-level technology-based economic development agencies. With a focus on diversifying and growing Maine’s economy by supporting activities around innovation and entrepreneurship, MTI has invested nearly $230 million across more than 2,000 projects in the state. Still, the organization sought improvement. In 2016, MTI embarked on a 15-month strategic planning process and met with more than 120 stakeholders across Maine’s innovation ecosystem. The work has culminated in a new guiding plan for the organization, as well as key changes to the structure and delivery of MTI’s programs and investments.

Recent Research: Close look at manufacturing helps shape policy and practice

Last week, SSTI highlighted the recently released issue of the Economic Development Quarterly where three pieces stand out for their relevance to practitioners and policymakers. This article takes a look at how academic research can inform three common strategies for strengthening the manufacturing sector and encouraging regional economic development: targeting industry clusters, leveraging manufacturing extension services, and promoting workforce development.

Profiting from pollution

Companies already repurpose trash into marketable products, but can the same concept work with air pollution? The National Academies of Science provides a detailed answer to this question in a committee report outlining the necessary research and innovation investments to foster the commercial exploitation of carbon dioxide and methane gas emissions generated by our current industrial economy.

Key ballot initiatives to impact state futures

SSTI has reviewed the ballot initiatives across the country that affect innovation. Several states have energy initiatives on their ballots, while higher education funding is at play in Maine, Montana, New Jersey and Rhode Island. Utah could become only the second state to fund its schools through gas taxes, if a measure there is passed. At the same time, four states have ballot issues addressing redistricting commissions which could have a significant impact on state legislative makeup when lines are redrawn after the 2020 census.

NexusLA launches Louisiana’s first IT apprenticeship program in Baton Rouge

NexusLA announced the launch of Apprenti Louisiana –  the state’s first registered information technology (IT) apprenticeship program. NexusLA, a Research Park Corporation subsidiary, will partner with Apprenti to support the program. Apprenti, a Seattle-based apprenticeship model, was launched in 2015 by the Washington Technology Industry Association and is now expanding in communities across the U.S.

AL launches program to connect HBCU students, professional learning experiences

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivy announced the Alabama HBCU Co-Op Pilot Program to provide students at the state’s 14 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) with the opportunity for hands-on work experience in STEM fields as well as create greater collaboration between Alabama’s HBCUs, industry, and government. Participating students will be required to complete three co-op semesters with some of the state’s top companies in order to gain a sense of professional experience in the area of their majors. Upon successful completion of the program, students will receive a Certificate of Completion. The pilot program is scheduled to launch in early 2019.

NIST connecting entrepreneurs, industry and investors in the cloud

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is funding a program to better connect entrepreneurs, industry and investors with inventions from federally funded R&D. NIST has created a partnership with National Technical Information Service (NTIS) and will invest $1.7 million of its Lab to Market funding to complete the project.

DOE launches manufacturing innovator challenge

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced two new manufacturing prizes as part of the Manufacturing Innovator Challenge, an effort to crowdsource solutions for next generation manufacturing, to increase energy productivity and strengthen America's industrial base. Both prizes focus on additive manufacturing: Additive Manufacturing for Disaster Response and Solid State Lighting Manufacturing. Participants will be asked to share designs that represent an innovation in each respective application of additive manufacturing. 

NSF announces $20M to support commercialization of NSF-funded research

The National Science Foundation (NSF) announced approximately $20 million in new funding through its Partnerships for Innovation (PFI) program. The PFI program offers NSF-funded researchers at institutions of higher education opportunities to connect new knowledge to societal benefit through translational research efforts and/or partnerships that encourage, enhance, and accelerate innovation and entrepreneurship.

New state efforts look to address skills gap in IN, NC, and SC

While job openings surpassed 7.1 million in August, companies across the country still are struggling to attract staff with relevant skills. To address this issue, states are developing new workforce development efforts to address the increased demand. These efforts have taken many different approaches including grants to communities, free online resources, mentorship programs, or stronger partnerships with industry. While these efforts may be diverse in their processes, they share commonalities, such as bringing together all stakeholders (e.g., industry, academia, government, nonprofits, and local workforce development boards) and providing those services locally across the state, or by leveraging online platforms.  Such efforts are reflected in new programs described below in Indiana, North Carolina and South Carolina.

 

How public policy supports advanced manufacturing

For those interested in how innovation, investment, programs, and policies can help make manufacturing an economic boon to states and regions across the nation, a new special issue of the Economic Development Quarterly may offer some answers. Featuring original research and book reviews from experts around the country, Strengthening Manufacturing – How Research Can Inform Public Policy is an important read for scholars and practitioners of economic development. The introduction to the special issue, written by Ken Poole and Brendan Buff of the Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness (CREC), is available online at no cost. A future Digest story will highlight some of the articles featured in the issue and discuss what their findings mean for technology-based economic development more broadly.

Opportunity Zone guidance leaves critical questions unanswered

The U.S. Treasury released a new set of proposed guidelines around Opportunity Zones. The new regulations would provide many clarifications about eligibility and timing, but do little to address critical concerns for potential zone-based seed and venture capital investment funds. Additional guidance is forthcoming, but there is no timetable for this release. Meanwhile, the latest regulations are subject to comment once published in the Federal Register.

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