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.


Recent Research: Automation not resulting in greater job loss at the country level

Discussions surrounding automation’s power and the effect it could have on jobs have only increased over time. The current pandemic adds to the debate of whether automation and robotics, which are unaffected by viruses and have the potential for cost savings, could offer a safer bet for industries than human labor. Such are the debates the authors of a new working paper considered in their research examining jobs that were identified in the past as being at risk of elimination through automation.

Useful Stats: Higher Ed R&D intensity by metro, 2019

Metropolitan areas in the U.S. with fewer than 370,000 residents are more likely to be more economically reliant on R&D performed by colleges and universities than larger metros, according to new SSTI analysis. Three data points are used to consider how R&D at institutions of higher education is impacting a region’s economy: NSF’s Higher Education R&D (HERD) data on expenditures at individual institutions; metro area Gross Domestic Product (GDP) data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis; and population estimates from the Census Bureau. The resulting analysis shows that despite larger metro areas producing a greater total amount of HERD, they are typically less reliant on these expenditures directly powering their economies.

$38 million Build to Scale program open for applications

This week, the U.S. Economic Development Administration announced that the Build to Scale program has opened for applications. The Build to Scale program provides operating funding for tech-based economic development initiatives in regional economies. This program has long been a top priority for SSTI’s Innovation Advocacy Council, and we are happy that our continued success in raising the program’s appropriation means this year’s funding opportunity will award $38 million in grants.

GAO updates technology assessment design handbook

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has updated its Technology Assessment Design Handbook, a program evaluation tool designed to assist in the development of robust technology assessments. First released to the public in December 2019, the handbook now includes additions based on the experiences of GAO teams, a review of relevant literature, and comments submitted by external experts. It also provides a high-level process for developing policy options.

Ohio rolls out third innovation district in less than a year with $100 million in state commitment

Ohio unveiled the Columbus Innovation District this week, marking the third such announcement in less than a year, with a $100 million commitment from JobsOhio, the state’s nonprofit economic development corporation. Other partners in the Columbus initiative include Ohio State University, which will contribute $650 million, and Nationwide Children’s Hospital, with a $350 million commitment.

Report explores ways to ramp up decarbonization of the U.S. energy system

Policymakers will need to consider the larger social and economic conditions associated with efforts to decarbonize the U.S. energy system if the nation is to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Fracking industry failing to contribute to broader regional growth in Appalachia, study finds

While natural gas production has continued to expand throughout the Appalachian region, the surrounding communities have yet to experience the economic and social benefits that were initially seen as surefire byproducts of the natural gas industry’s growing footprint within the area, according to a new report.

Recent Research: Innovation vouchers found to increase SME patenting, other positive impacts

A working paper from the Innovation Growth Lab (IGL) series featuring researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition provides causal evidence on the effectiveness of innovation vouchers and adds to the argument for implementing small-scale government funding mechanisms like innovation vouchers.

APLU launches rural workforce initiative

The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) is building a program to create new career pathways for low-income rural students. Through a partnership with the North Central Regional Center for Rural Development at Purdue University, the program will address the needs of rural employers by creating a model to identify rural workforce needs, developing stakeholder partnerships, mapping workforce pathways, recruiting and supporting low-income rural learners, and building entrepreneurship and leadership skills.

Innovation & supply chain leading areas of concern for weakened defense industrial base

Already weakened before the pandemic, a new report from the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) finds that the health and readiness of the U.S. defense industrial base — composed of manufacturers, technology innovators, and systems integrators, research organizations, and suppliers — faces particularly large obstacles in the areas of innovation and supply chain. Assessed along eight different metrics, NDIA assigns an overall letter grade indicating the health and readiness of the defense industrial base.

Members named to entrepreneurship and innovation committees in the 117th Congress

Editor’s notes. Feb. 18: We have updated the article to reflect assignments to key subcommittees in both the House and Senate. 

Nearly a month into the 117th Congress, formal committee assignments are being announced. The highest-priority committees for tech-based economic development policies are those affecting science and small business issues. The lists, below, provide a description of those committees in the Senate and House for the next two years.

Senate Commerce Committee

Report: Heartland stands to benefit most from reshoring

The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the country’s reliance on overseas manufacturing production when there was a lack of medical supplies and equipment to treat those affected by the virus as supply chains were reliant on supplies from outside the country. A recent report from Heartland Forward finds that many domestic and foreign companies are recognizing the strategic advantages of locating in the U.S. and are considering reshoring operations.

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