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New DOE clean energy office to oversee $20B in investments, new tech developments

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the establishment of a new Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations that will support projects in areas including clean hydrogen, carbon capture, grid-scale energy storage, small modular reactors, and more. The recently-signed Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act provides $21.5 billion in funding for the office’s administration and projects through 2026.

ITIF report highlights need for digital skills to remain competitive

Although it led the global digital revolution, the United States is faltering now when it comes to digital skills possessed by the workforce. That is one of the findings of a recent report from the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), which goes on to say that such developments bode poorly for long-term U.S. competitiveness if such trends aren’t reversed.

Useful Stats: Annual change in county-level GDP per capita, 2019-2020

This edition of SSTI’s Useful Stats begins a series of articles examining recently updated Gross Domestic Product (GDP) data for 2020, identifying changes in GDP per capita during the first year of the economic impacts from the Covid-19 pandemic, and setting the stage for future articles diving deeper into the impacts of the pandemic on local economies. Specifically, this analysis focuses on the annual percent change from 2019 to 2020 in county-level GDP per capita (calculated as total county GDP divided by total county population) using comprehensive geographical data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) and population data from the Census Bureau.

Societal stereotypes keeping girls out of STEM

Societal stereotypes that depict girls as being less interested in computer science and engineering may be hindering girls from participating in those fields later in life, according to a recent article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Treasury publishes first SSBCI FAQs

Yesterday, Treasury released the first clarifications for its State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) guidance. These frequently asked questions (FAQs) are intended to help states understand the program rules as they prepare their applications by the Feb. 11, 2022 deadline.

Useful Stats: 2019 Business R&D intensity by state

Business research and development (R&D) intensity — private sector R&D expenditures as a percentage of total gross domestic product (GDP) — is an indicator of how interested businesses are in creating new products and processes. This edition of Useful Stats expands upon previous SSTI analyses of business R&D and applies the more standardized measure of “R&D intensity” to provide additional context on the private sector’s activities within states.

EDA makes initial Build Back Better Regional Challenge awards

Earlier this week, the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) announced the phase I winners of the Build Back Better Regional Challenge. Each of the 60 awardees receive $500,000 to support their region and cluster — and begin the process of competing for one of the 20-30 phase II awards that can be up to $100 million each.

Useful Stats: SSTI analysis examines business R&D employment by state, 2019

An SSTI analysis of business R&D employment data from the National Science Foundation’s recently updated 2019 Business Enterprise R&D (BERD) Survey finds that nationally in 2019, R&D employment at private businesses accounted for 8.6 percent of total employment. The states where the business R&D employment shares of total employment were the greatest in 2019 were Washington (20.9 percent); Massachusetts (19.3 percent); California (17.7 percent); New Hampshire (14.7 percent); and Michigan (12.7 percent). The analysis builds on our previous examination of business R&D expenditures and focuses on R&D employment at private businesses and the level of total business R&D expenditures per R&D employee by state in 2019.

CDFI Fund awards $180 million for finance, technical assistance

The Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund announced 265 financial and technical assistance awards totaling more than $180 million this week. Awardees in the FY 2021 round have headquarters in 43 states, D.C. and Puerto Rico. Financial assistance awards can be used by CDFIs to support additional loans and investments to businesses in underserved communities, while technical assistance awards can be used to build the CDFI’s own capacity.

Opportunity Zones: Lawmakers agree on need for better data collection

While the debate over how well Opportunity Zones (OZs) have performed and whom they most benefit remains far from settled, two uniting perspectives — a commitment to continuing increased investment in impoverished and vulnerable communities, and the desire for better data collection — may encourage lawmakers to make changes to the program.

SBA Innovation Ecosystem Summit provides resources for entrepreneurs and innovators

In an effort to bring together entrepreneurship and innovation leaders from around the country and raise the collective success potential of American small businesses, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) hosted its first innovation ecosystem summit last month. In her welcome message, SBA Administrator Isabel Guzman reinforced the Innovation Ecosystem Summit’s goal of reimagining the economy, leveraging the nation’s diversity, removing inequities, and building an economic future where ideas have a chance to flourish.

AUTM reports increased patent activity in research institutions

The Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM) recently reported findings from its 2020 Licensing Activity Survey. The survey collects self-reported technology transfer activity volumes from universities, hospitals and other non-profit research institutions in the United States. The report highlighted a large increase in the number of patents issued in 2020 relative to 2019, with a growth rate of 15.6 percent. There was less clarity about changes in other metrics, however.