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.


Several states in play this election cycle for innovation initiatives, gubernatorial and legislative elections

As voters head to the polls next week, some will be deciding the fate of innovation and development-related initiatives, while voters in Kentucky, Louisiana and Mississippi will be voting in gubernatorial elections. The initiatives include a possible additional $3 billion in Texas for cancer research. And in Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey and Virginia, legislative chambers are holding regular elections. Those races and initiatives are covered below.

Planning underway to increase energy technology development in rural areas

The U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have announced an agreement between them to promote rural energy and the development of technologies “that will support and advance rural and agricultural communities and domestic manufacturing.” The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which was required under the 2018 Farm Bill, is expected to increase the economic development of rural areas through new energy technologies and investments.

Decreased state funding for higher ed resulting in higher costs for students, increased inequality

Rising tuition and worsened racial and class inequality are two of the effects of decreasing state support for higher education, according to a recent report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.  In it the authors detail how overall state funding for public two- and four-year colleges has not fully recovered in most states following the recession, leaving higher costs and reduced services in many cases.

States with new university-industry partnerships & research capacity activities work to strengthen economies and talent pipelines

Research universities and their partnerships with industry, including an institution’s research capacity, are important elements to building a state’s economy as well as the national economy and talent pipeline and workforce.

SSTI encourages OSTP to support bioeconomy through commercialization, apprenticeship assistance

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) is exploring a national strategy to promote the U.S. bioeconomy. In response to a request for information, SSTI submitted a letter encouraging OSTP to leverage existing regional assets as part of its approach. To see more innovations converted into new products, services and businesses, the letter encourages a new program to fund commercialization assistance and to strengthen SBIR.

Useful Stats: Median Household Income by State, 1984-2018

While rankings and annual indices are catnip for some looking to gain attention for their latest rankings, SSTI has always argued that it’s long-term trends that give the best sense of where a state or region stands. With recent release of income data, SSTI has examined the last 34 years data in median household income for each state. SSTI found that while median household income — adjusted to 2018 dollars — has risen in nearly every state and the U.S. since 1984 with an average annual rate of increase of 0.8 percent, the growth, not surprisingly, varies widely among individual states.

Declining innovation funding threatens future economy

Two recent reports highlight the importance of funding innovation in the U.S., and give a glimpse into the perils of ignoring it. The reports, from The Aspen Institute and Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF), independently corroborate the role of the public sector in ensuring a more prosperous future through innovation.

SSTI, economic development peers submit OZ letter to EDA

SSTI and five peer, economic development-focused organizations submitted a letter to assistant secretary for economic development, John Fleming, in response to a request for information about incorporating Opportunity Zones (OZs) into existing EDA practices. The letter encourages the agency to be cautious in its approach, pointing out that OZ’s impacts are not yet understood.

States launching new tech commercialization programs to strengthen economies

Knowing that research universities are integral to the innovation in this country, states continue their efforts to build the economy by supporting efforts to move the research from the labs to the market.

Trump reestablishes council to advise him on science, tech, innovation and education policy

President Donald Trump this week issued an executive order reinstituting the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) to advise the president on matters involving science, technology, education, and innovation policy and named the first seven people to the council.

Three studies probe NIH R&D representation, conflicts of interest

In recent weeks, three separate reviews of R&D grants and awards at NIH have shed new light on issues of minority and women representation among researchers and on potential conflicts of interest by investigators. NIH has been publicly working to address concerns about representation and trustworthiness among its investigators. While the results from these studies show that the agency has more work to do, the availability of this information speaks favorably to NIH's transparent approach to these conversations. 

Useful Stats: Business R&D growing more concentrated in fewer states

Business R&D activity has been historically concentrated in a few states and became even more so in 2017, according to a National Science Foundation issue brief on the latest Business Research & Development and Innovation Survey (BRDIS).

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