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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.


NSF: States’ increase R&D spending; surpasses $2.5 billion in FY 2017

States invested $1.1 billion into health-related R&D expenditures in FY 2017 according to the newest results from the annual survey of state government R&D, conducted by the National Science Foundation.  Increasing by 13 percent from the previous year, health-related R&D helped push overall state government spending on R&D up by 7 percent over the 2016 figures. State investments in energy-related R&D, on the other hand, dropped by 16.6 percent ($61 million) to a total of $307 million in FY 2017.

BFTP programs boost PA economy by $4.1 billion over five years

An independent economic analysis of the Ben Franklin Technology Partners reveals its impact on Pennsylvania’s economy — boosting the overall economy by $4.1 billion between 2012 and 2016, helping to create 11,407 high-paying jobs and generating $385 million in tax receipts for the state. Because the jobs were created in industries that pay 52 percent higher than the average nonfarm salary in Pennsylvania, the impact on the state’s GSP was greater, according to the report.

Useful Stats: State government investments in R&D, 2012-2017

Every state government invested at least $1.0 million in research and development in FY 2017, according to recent data from the National Science Foundation’s National Center for Science and Education Statistics. During the three-year period from FY 2015 to FY 2017, California ($551.8 million per year), New York ($403.2 million per year), and Texas ($244.9 million per year) state governments averaged the most R&D expenditures. In FY 2017, these three states accounted for 49.8 percent of the national total, up from 45.6 percent of the total invested by state governments in 2012.

SSTI submits OZ comments to IRS

This fall, the IRS released proposed Opportunity Zone rules, which did not address several key questions for business investment. SSTI submitted comments for official consideration last week, requesting that rules clarify initial investment periods, interim returns and qualifying business activity locations. Several organizations echoed similar concerns, including the U.S. Conference of Mayors and U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Other comments posted to the site include calls for requirements that would facilitate greater impact, including screening potential bad actors, encouraging investments in ESOPs, and measuring economic impacts for current zone residents. Read SSTI’s full letter

No budget, but lame duck Congress passes innovation bills

While Congress was unable to pass a budget before funding ran out, legislators did advance multiple innovation-related proposals. Here is a quick summary of what the lame duck session did (and did not do) for tech-based economic development.

New legislative activity during the lame duck session:

Recent Research – four in brief

Several academic papers have been released recently focused on topics of importance for influencing the design and delivery of national and regional innovation policies. In this week’s issue of the SSTI Weekly Digest, we’ve included brief summaries of the findings of four of them related to timely news topics – the relationship of trade and manufacturing employments, the likely longer term economic impact of the 2017 corporate tax cuts, ties between R&D and trade,  and  the relationship of patents to employee wages.

Can $13M change the distribution pattern for NIH SBIR awards?

A significant majority of SBIR and STTR grants awarded to small businesses from the National Institutes of Health in any given year end up in just a handful of states. For example, the percentage of all 2017 SBIR/STTR awards made to companies in the 23 states and Puerto Rico eligible to participate for funding from NIH’s Institutional Development Award (IDeA) program was only 8 percent – 97 of the 1,218 awards made across all phases of both innovation funding programs.  For comparison, the same states account for 15.8 percent of the estimated U.S. population in 2017. NIH wants to change that discrepancy.

Useful Stats: NIH SBIR/STTR Success Rates by State (2008-2017)

One of the best ways to measure the effectiveness of state programs intended to encourage the success of SBIR applications is the approval-rate of their submissions. Although this data has been historically unavailable across every federal agency, it is now accessible for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the second largest provider of SBIR/STTR awards, according to a 2018 Digest report. The NIH distributed $446.2 million in SBIR/STTR awards in 2017, with every state except North and South Dakota receiving an award. Although California and Massachusetts had the most successful SBIR/STTR applications in 2017, accounting for roughly one-third of the total when combined, neither state ranked among the top 10 in success rate. NIH SBIR/STTR applications in Oregon (29 percent success rate), Vermont (25 percent success rate), and Wisconsin (23 percent success rate) were the most likely to be approved over the ten-year period from 2008 to 2017. Each of these states, as well as many others with high success rates, offer assistance with proposals such as technical support programs and Phase 0 grants.

Rural broadband emerging as early theme for 2019

Action toward improving the availability and speed of broadband in rural areas is emerging as an early theme in 2019, continuing activity from 2018. Oregon, Washington and the USDA all announced new initiatives last month. In mid-December, the USDA announced the availability of $600 million in grants and loans to support improvement of broadband accessibility across rural America. Funding is split into three equal pools. Up to $200 million may be awarded as grants (deadline for proposals is April 29); $200 million may be awarded as low-interest loans (applications due June 28); and $200 million may be distributed in a mix of grants and loans (proposals are due May 29).  Projects funded through this initiative must serve communities with fewer than 20,000 people with no broadband service or where service is slower than 10 megabits per second (mbps) download and 1 mbps upload.

Canada transitioning university-industry R&D support

University-based centers to support collaborative research with industry have been a mainstay of federal competitiveness policies for decades.  Government commitments of multiyear, multimillion dollar funding are thought to provide lab/institutional stability and industry confidence for engagement in longer-term joint research projects.

Off the bookshelves; some of what SSTI staff read in 2018

If catching up on your reading is a goal over the holidays or on your list of resolutions for next year, the staff at SSTI are sharing some of our favorite reads from the past year. Here we bring you our list of 2018 science, innovation, tech and entrepreneurship (adjacent) reads. Tell us what you think of the list — and what is on your list — by tweeting @ssti_org.

Dan Berglund, president & CEO

New Farm Bill programs aim to cultivate rural innovation

The latest Farm Bill, expected to be signed into law Thursday, contains provisions that could provide significant new tools for rural innovations. The two greatest opportunities are the Rural Innovation Stronger Economy (RISE) grant program, which creates an innovation cluster and strategy program for rural regions, and a change to allow the existing Community Facilities program to support incubators, makerspaces, and job training centers.

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