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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.


Young innovators turn to nature for inspiration, invention

For passive control of tidal electricity systems, permeable courtyard tiles, and fog water collection units, three winning teams of middle school and high school innovators looked to cucumber seeds, plants from the yam family and Namib beetles, respectively.  The three projects were among the six selected for recognition out of 78 participating in the 2019 Biomimicry Youth Design Challenge.  Biomimicry approaches sustainable innovation by looking first to nature to find proven competencies — patterns and strategies in the systems vernacular — for dealing with similar challenges.  The result

New grant program to help tech transfer launched

The New Mexico Economic Development Department is launching a new grant program to facilitate the transfer and commercialization of technologies developed in New Mexico national labs and universities to business startups. The New Mexico Technology Transfer Assistance Grants (NM-TAG) are designed to help offset the risk associated with licensing new technologies and assist the transfer and deployment of new innovative technologies.

Recent Research: Incentives and State Fiscal Health

A recent paper published by SSRN provides a detailed look at the relationship between financial incentives and state fiscal health. The authors control for many potentially-related factors and still find significant, negative impacts of incentives. While the study helps fuel calls for critical analysis and careful implementation of tax incentives, the results may not be as clear cut as some coverage may suggest.

New program seeks to boost Minnesota’s innovation economy

Funds for entrepreneurial training, technical assistance with R&D, and matching grants for innovative small businesses are among the items now part of Minnesota’s economic development toolkit thanks to new funding in the state’s recently signed FY 2020 biennial budget. Under the approved budget, Launch Minnesota will receive $2.5 million in each of the next two fiscal years to support innovation and entrepreneurship. Originally called the Minnesota Innovation Collaborative in Gov.

Ignoring Industry 4.0 leaves firms vulnerable

Federal and private R&D portfolios are investing heavily in designing and refining the key innovation components of the transition to cyber-physical systems of production: artificial intelligence, automation, IoT, advanced materials, and dynamic, decentralized decision making to name a few elements. There also is a fair amount of buzz about Industry 4.0 from the big manufacturing consultants and around industry trade shows.  Innovation and optimization, however, appear to be two very distant points on a continuum for both U.S.

What are mayors talking about? NLC explores top trending topics

The National League of Cities (NLC) recently released its sixth State of the Cities report, an analysis of the year’s state of the city speeches. It identifies and examines the top 10 issues that mayors are discussing and provides analyses on regional and subtopic trends.

Focus on inclusive ecosystems to build entrepreneurship and growth

A new report from the Kansas City Federal Reserve and Opportunity HUB (OHUB) reveals the importance of building an inclusive entrepreneurship ecosystem. Authored by Dell Gines of the Kansas City Federal Reserve and Rodney Sampson, chairman and chief executive officer of Opportunity Hub, the report examines how entrepreneurship ecosystem building has lacked an emphasis on issues of diversity, equity and inclusion.

Useful Stats: Overall R&D intensity by state (2002-2016)

How has the intensity of research and development (R&D) performance changed across states and over time? As a follow up to an article in last week’s Digest that examined changes in total R&D expenditures for each state over the 15-year period from 2002 to 2016, this week’s Useful Stats focuses on R&D intensity.

Must Read: An Economist’s Argument for TBED

It is extremely rare for SSTI to use those first two words in a Digest headline. We feel that compulsion today because of a unique (using its original OED definition of “first/one of a kind”) monograph prepared by Greg Tassey, an esteemed economist who served for much of his career as Senior Economist for the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Throughout his work, he has focused an economist’s lens on public policy’s role in technology, standards, economic growth, and industrial innovation, among other related topics.

Top questions to ask when planning an innovation district

Innovation districts show promise as an economic development tool, but there are a range of questions policymakers, practitioners and planners should consider prior to and while pursuing the strategy, according to new research from RTI International’s Center for Applied Economics and Strategy.

How SBIR/STTR spent $2.7 billion in FY 2016

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) released its FY 2016 annual report for the $2.4 billion obligated by the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program and $313.6 million by the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. The report includes the number and dollar amount of SBIR and STTR awards for each state. New Phase I SBIR awards by agency are summarized in the following table.

Useful Stats: Total research and development performance by state (2002-2016)

Despite its limitations, publicly available data on research and development (R&D) expenditures remains one of the best metrics for measuring state progress in the innovation economy. Defined as the sum of multiple National Science Foundation (NSF) measures – including business and industry R&D, higher education R&D, and R&D at federally funded centers – total R&D has skyrocketed nationwide over the past 15 years, though some states have experienced an outsized portion of this growth. Where has total R&D performance increased the most over the past 15 years?

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