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Recent Research – four in brief

Several academic papers have been released recently focused on topics of importance for influencing the design and delivery of national and regional innovation policies. In this week’s issue of the SSTI Weekly Digest, we’ve included brief summaries of the findings of four of them related to timely news topics – the relationship of trade and manufacturing employments, the likely longer term economic impact of the 2017 corporate tax cuts, ties between R&D and trade,  and  the relationship of patents to employee wages.

Can $13M change the distribution pattern for NIH SBIR awards?

A significant majority of SBIR and STTR grants awarded to small businesses from the National Institutes of Health in any given year end up in just a handful of states. For example, the percentage of all 2017 SBIR/STTR awards made to companies in the 23 states and Puerto Rico eligible to participate for funding from NIH’s Institutional Development Award (IDeA) program was only 8 percent – 97 of the 1,218 awards made across all phases of both innovation funding programs.  For comparison, the same states account for 15.8 percent of the estimated U.S. population in 2017. NIH wants to change that discrepancy.

Useful Stats: NIH SBIR/STTR Success Rates by State (2008-2017)

One of the best ways to measure the effectiveness of state programs intended to encourage the success of SBIR applications is the approval-rate of their submissions. Although this data has been historically unavailable across every federal agency, it is now accessible for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the second largest provider of SBIR/STTR awards, according to a 2018 Digest report. The NIH distributed $446.2 million in SBIR/STTR awards in 2017, with every state except North and South Dakota receiving an award. Although California and Massachusetts had the most successful SBIR/STTR applications in 2017, accounting for roughly one-third of the total when combined, neither state ranked among the top 10 in success rate. NIH SBIR/STTR applications in Oregon (29 percent success rate), Vermont (25 percent success rate), and Wisconsin (23 percent success rate) were the most likely to be approved over the ten-year period from 2008 to 2017. Each of these states, as well as many others with high success rates, offer assistance with proposals such as technical support programs and Phase 0 grants.

Rural broadband emerging as early theme for 2019

Action toward improving the availability and speed of broadband in rural areas is emerging as an early theme in 2019, continuing activity from 2018. Oregon, Washington and the USDA all announced new initiatives last month. In mid-December, the USDA announced the availability of $600 million in grants and loans to support improvement of broadband accessibility across rural America. Funding is split into three equal pools. Up to $200 million may be awarded as grants (deadline for proposals is April 29); $200 million may be awarded as low-interest loans (applications due June 28); and $200 million may be distributed in a mix of grants and loans (proposals are due May 29).  Projects funded through this initiative must serve communities with fewer than 20,000 people with no broadband service or where service is slower than 10 megabits per second (mbps) download and 1 mbps upload.

Canada transitioning university-industry R&D support

University-based centers to support collaborative research with industry have been a mainstay of federal competitiveness policies for decades.  Government commitments of multiyear, multimillion dollar funding are thought to provide lab/institutional stability and industry confidence for engagement in longer-term joint research projects.

Off the bookshelves; some of what SSTI staff read in 2018

If catching up on your reading is a goal over the holidays or on your list of resolutions for next year, the staff at SSTI are sharing some of our favorite reads from the past year. Here we bring you our list of 2018 science, innovation, tech and entrepreneurship (adjacent) reads. Tell us what you think of the list — and what is on your list — by tweeting @ssti_org.

Dan Berglund, president & CEO

New Farm Bill programs aim to cultivate rural innovation

The latest Farm Bill, expected to be signed into law Thursday, contains provisions that could provide significant new tools for rural innovations. The two greatest opportunities are the Rural Innovation Stronger Economy (RISE) grant program, which creates an innovation cluster and strategy program for rural regions, and a change to allow the existing Community Facilities program to support incubators, makerspaces, and job training centers.

NY Regional Councils awarded more than $20 million for TBED, $763 million overall

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has announced more than $763 million for economic development projects throughout the state as part of the regional economic development council (REDC) competition. The program, which tasks leaders in 10 regions to determine economic development priorities, has awarded more than $6.1 billion across 7,300 projects since its inception in 2011. In each region, funding went toward projects such as infrastructure, main street revitalization, feasibility studies, strategic planning, microenterprise funds, and workforce development.

Rhode Island announces $12 million for Innovation Campus projects

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo has announced the first three projects for the state’s Innovation Campus Program, an effort to support the commercialization of academic research in key industries such as cybersecurity, data analytics and agricultural technology. The centers, in partnership with the University of Rhode Island and located in Kingston and Providence, will receive a combined $12 million from the state. The funding stems from a $20 million innovation bond approved by the state’s voters in 2016.

NASBO finds state finances improving

In its latest report on the conditions of the states, the National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO) found that conditions continue to improve and show more stability, with funding expected to grow 4.3 percent in FY 2019. NASBO also reported that 40 states saw general fund revenue collections coming in higher than budget projections in fiscal 2018. General fund revenues grew 6.4 percent in fiscal 2018, due to an increase in personal income tax collections, and are projected to grow 2.1 percent in fiscal 2019.

New report urges consistency from higher ed on job placement rates

A new report from The Institute for College Access and Success (TICAS) released last week describes the misleading perceptions resulting from employment rates used by the three entities tasked with oversight of the U.S. higher education system and proposes two specific measurements that could better inform student choices.

NIST recommends improvements for federal tech transfer, seeks comments

The National Institute of Standards and Technology has released a paper making recommendations to improve federal technology transfer. Recommendations are organized around five topics: regulation and administration, private-sector engagement, R&D workforce, tech transfer tools, and metrics and benchmarks. These recommendations — and the responses they generate — are expected to lead to regulatory and legislative proposals over the course of the next two years.

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