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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.


$42.4 million philanthropic grant to help fuel regional innovation in Northern Indiana

As a way to help encourage innovation and workforce development in Northern Indiana, a five-year, $42.4 million grant from the Lilly Endowment will support the Labs for Industry Futures and Transformation (LIFT) Network. An effort of the University of Notre Dame and the South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership, the LIFT Network will launch iNDustry Labs at Notre Dame’s Innovation Park, a burgeoning innovation district on the campus’ southern end. This is the sixth region in Indiana where the Lilly Endowment has made an economic development commitment.

NIST releases tech transfer recommendations

Describing the 125+ page document outlining the administration’s thoughts regarding the movement of federal R&D into market use as a “discussion guide, not a policy document,”  Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and NIST Director Walter Copan announced the report’s release April 24 during the early minutes of the national convening of one of the communities most directly affected by any changes likely to result from the document: the technology licensing practitioners and offices which make up the Federal Laboratories Consortium for Technology Transfer (FLC). 

Outgoing USAF secretary proposes new S&T strategy

Last week, U.S. Air Force secretary Heather Wilson released a new Science and Technology Strategy outlining three broad areas for realignment within the branch. The secretary’s emphasis on transformational partnerships should be particularly noteworthy for non-defense organization working with new technologies or STEM workforce. The strategy outlines three objectives: improving delivery of transformational capabilities, reforming S&T management, and likely to be of most interest to the tech-based economic development community, expanding the S&T enterprise with a particular focus on workforce and facilitating innovation partnerships.

Passages

We’re sad to report that in the last month, three individuals who helped shape the field of tech-based economic development have passed away. Bruce “Tab” Wilkins was most recently the President and Center Director of Impact Washington. In addition to five years with the Washington Technology Center, the majority of his career was spent with the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) network, going back to 1994 when he helped form and then lead CONNSTEP. His calm, gracious presence is missed by all those including the SSTI team who had the good fortune to work with him.

Among David Hamburg’s many accomplishments was serving as the President of the Carnegie Corporation of New York from 1982 to 1997. During his tenure the Carnegie Commission on Science and Technology operated and SSTI received a grant critical to the launch of its operations. A full profile of Dr. Hamburg can be found here

In the late 1980s, Ed Cohen served as founding executive director of the New Jersey Commission on Science and Technology, an agency spun out of the higher education department during the first term of Gov. Thomas Kean, with support from the state’s key business leaders.  Under Ed’s leadership, the Commission became one of the premier state tech-based economic development organizations that kicked off the wave of state involvement in encouraging economic growth through science and technology. A complete obituary can be found here and is listed below.

Clean energy jobs will require workforce transition

Earth Day has evolved from environmental consciousness raising in its beginnings in the early 1970s to this year’s celebration surrounded with climate change concerns and development of the clean energy industry..  A recent report from the Brookings Institution shows more discussion needs to happen around the types of workers, activities and skills that will be needed in the clean energy industry, and how those efforts can be more inclusive. Transitioning to a clean energy economy will involve 320 unique occupations spread across clean energy production, energy efficiency and environmental management, the authors found. The report highlights the fact that those workers earn higher and more equitable wages compared to all workers nationally, and many of those occupations tend to have lower educational requirements.

Roadmap provided for university research and tech commercialization

As a bedrock of American innovation, universities and federal laboratories research and develop new products that help drive economic growth. A new study from the Economic Growth Institute at the University of Michigan aims to improve national competitiveness in this arena by providing a roadmap for universities that includes best practices on translating research from the lab to the marketplace.

DoD plans longer-term strategy for Manufacturing USA institutes

The sustainability of Manufacturing USA institutes depends on their ability to offer value across a wide range of stakeholders according to a recent report by The National Academies of Sciences’ National Materials and Manufacturing Board, on behalf of The National Institute of Standards and Technology and the Department of Defense. Since 2012, DoD has invested more than $600 million in its Manufacturing USA institutes, with funding intended to help cover startup costs and the first five to seven years of operations.

Report highlights brain drain’s impact on states

New research from Congress’ Joint Economic Committee’s Social Capital Project finds that the migration of highly-educated adults toward dynamic states and major metropolitan areas is accentuating America’s geographic divisions. Using census data from 1940 to the present, the authors define “brain drain” as someone in the top third of the national education distribution who resides in a state other than their state of birth between the ages of 31 and 40. Their interactive, data-rich analysis finds that the states that are doing the best cluster around the Boston-Washington corridor and on the west coast, while states in the South and the Midwest/Great Lakes fare worse when it comes to attracting and retaining the highly educated. The authors also analyze changes in states and regions over time, as well as conclusions for what this means for social capital nationwide.

FCC announces new tech initiatives

The Federal Communication Commission Chairman Ajit Pai outlined two new initiatives aimed at ensuring U.S. leadership in 5G and continuing efforts to close the digital divide. Pai announced his intent to create the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, which he indicated would inject $20.4 billion into high-speed broadband networks in rural American over the next decade.

New proposed Opportunity Zones rules, RFI released by IRS

The IRS released its long-anticipated second tranche of rules on Wednesday, and the regulations provide some clarity around using Opportunity Zones to invest in businesses. Specific examples include details on defining a business’ operations within a zone and funds’ ability to reinvest proceeds. However, further clarification is needed, including around investors’ treatment of interim sales, and additional changes are forthcoming.

State funding for higher ed only half recovered

State funding for higher education has only halfway recovered in the 10 years since the Great Recession, according to a recent State Higher Education Finance (SHEF) report. The report also found that while higher education funding is stabilizing, the shift to greater reliance on tuition as a revenue source has leveled off, but remains higher than since before the Great Recession.

Recent Research: Public-sector partnerships help fuel cleantech innovation

As the technology behind renewable energy continues to advance, recent research finds that the public sector plays an important role in catalyzing innovation. This can be seen in three main ways: by funding basic research on renewable energy in all 50 states; by partnering with cleantech startups; and by supporting cleantech clusters through networks, commercialization assistance, and access to capital. Taken together, this recent research suggests that public-sector partnerships can complement industry’s role in growing the green economy at the federal, state and local levels.

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