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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.


New study shows downtown areas lagging behind pre-pandemic levels of activity

Recent findings from a study titled The Death of Downtown? Pandemic Recovery Trajectories across 62 North American Cities, conducted by a group of six researchers at the University of California’s Berkeley campus's Institute of Governmental Studies found that U.S. and Canadian downtowns are recovering from COVID-19 related setbacks at much slower rates than the “rest of the city,” and many downtown areas are still seeing less visits than pre-pandemic levels.

Missouri grows capacity to build entrepreneurial systems in the state

Taking what Gov. Mike Parson called a “bold step to support high-tech entrepreneurship, innovation and growth,” the Missouri Technology Corporation (MTC) released an Implementation Plan built off an earlier strategic plan (Catalyzing Innovation Report) designed to build the state’s innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystems. A key element in the implementation plan is the creation of a $17 million grant program to expand entrepreneurial capacity, with $8.5 million of that funded through MTC’s FY 2023 general revenue appropriation and a match of $8.5 million through the IDEA Fund Co-Investment Program’s venture capital activities.

President names first ARPA-H director, announces new bioeconomy initiative

On the 60th anniversary of President Kennedy's Moonshot Address, President Biden traveled to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum to highlight progress toward his administration's Moonshot Program to combat cancer and expand the U.S. bioeconomy. This announcement included Biden's pick for the inaugural director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H) and the signing of an executive order to institute a National Biotechnology and Biomanufacturing Initiative.

Recent Research: Exploring nationwide distribution of AI-focused Phase II SBIR projects

States with top-ranking university AI research programs garner a greater number of Phase II AI-related SBIR awards, according to a working paper from the Department of Economics at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Researchers there investigated state variations in the distribution of Phase II SBIR research projects focused on artificial intelligence (AI). The authors of the paper hypothesized that the state-by-state variations are related to the presence of a research university with a “Top 10” AI program in each state. Analysis showed that three out of the five states receiving the most funding for AI-related Phase II SBIR projects had a top-ranked AI research university. Although proximity to a top research university may be beneficial to Phase II SBIR applicants with AI-focused projects, it is not the only path to success in capturing SBIR funds.

Efforts underway in the states to capitalize on CHIPS funding

With President Biden’s signing the CHIPS and Science Act on Aug. 9, states and universities are already making plans to build on the funding opportunities present in the legislation. For example, a group of Midwest colleges and universities has formed a new coalition to support the advanced semiconductor and microelectronics industry as Intel begins construction on a microchip plant in Ohio, and multiple states are positioning themselves to compete for semiconductor manufacturing incentives — as encouraged by Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo. This article summarizes these early state actions (for recent federal activity, see SSTI’s coverage).

21 Build Back Better Regional Challenge winners announced

In what is being heralded as one of the most impactful regional economic development initiatives in decades, 21 coalition winners — including three SSTI members as coalition leads — of the $1 billion Build Back Better Regional Challenge have been announced. Each of the awardees will receive between $25 million and $65 million to fund 123 projects designed to advance economies across 24 states. This investment, which will be matched by more than $300 million of local investment, is expected to create a regional economic strategy that is “greater than its parts,” according to the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA).

RTI International leading, SSTI supporting Build Back Better Regional Challenge Community of Practice

The nonprofit research institute, RTI International, has been named the grant winner to coordinate and lead a Community of Practice (CoP) for the Build Back Better Regional Challenge’s 60 finalist coalitions. While the 21 awardees of the challenge will go on to build out their proposed programs, the CoP is intended to build long-term connections among all 60 coalition finalists, which were awarded from 529 applications. SSTI is excited to be a sub-awardee on the CoP working with RTI.

Pennsylvania manufacturing has potential to expand, new report says

Pennsylvania is losing ground in expanding manufacturing opportunities in the state, according to the Pennsylvania Manufacturing Advisory Council, which has issued a playbook to help build the sector’s competitiveness and highlights recommendations for the state to increase its manufacturing opportunities. 

White House announces major expansion to open access policies

A recent announcement from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) included major updates requiring open access to federally funded research. The new guidance will require federal agencies to ensure that all taxpayer-funded research is immediately available to the public, disallowing the previous optional 12-month embargos.

Commerce releases info on plans for CHIPS funding

The recently-passed CHIPS and Science Act included $54.2 billion in appropriations, largely for semiconductor manufacturing incentives ($39 billion) and R&D ($11 billion). The administration is releasing information about its planned distribution of funds. Recent resources include: a strategic plan from the U.S. Department of Commerce, the agency administering the bulk of the funding; a research recommendations report from the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST); and, a new CHIPS.gov website from Commerce.

Recent announcements reveal “mega” trends in electric vehicle and battery manufacturing expansions

The recently approved Inflation Reduction Act with new incentives for electric vehicle ownership and energy efficiency is likely to continue a trend among states for the location of major economic development projects, a trend toward everything mega—megasites, megadeals, mega factories, and mega projects. These large-scale manufacturing projects typically feature incentives from state and local governments, such as access to shovel-ready megasites or large tax incentive packages. These new "mega" trends have raised the stakes and increased competition between states as they advocate for the bid of electric vehicle and battery companies looking to expand.

Treasury announces five more states’ plans approved for SSBCI

Five additional state plans for the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) have received approval from the U.S. Department of Treasury, bringing the current total of announced states to 19. Over the past month, Treasury announcedthat plans in Colorado, Montana, New York, North Carolina and Oregon were approved. Some details on the plans are outlined below.

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