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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.


Useful Stats: State business R&D investment (1999-2017)

While business investments towards research and development have varied among states, the overall trend throughout the country has been a positive one. Business R&D funding has weathered two recessions over the past 20 years, with many states seeing investments grow beyond their pre-recession levels. While the scope of COVID-19’s economic impact continues to grow, business R&D investment has shown a strong history of recovering from, and building beyond, national financial downturns.

$1.5 million awarded through Kauffman Heartland Challenge

The Kauffman Foundation has announced 17 organizations will share the $1.5 million in funding allocated through their Heartland Challenge. These grantees will work to solve specific challenges entrepreneurs in the heartland region — comprised of Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, and Kansas — face, and will participate in facilitated, peer-learning communities of practice to share knowledge across the region.

House probes role of innovation in clean energy

A recent hearing by the House science committee provided several experts, including Lee Cheatham from SSTI-member Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, an opportunity to discuss the importance of science and innovation to achieving a “clean energy future.” Comments by the panelists largely focused on the value of public-private partnerships, such as those modeled through SBIR/STTR, prize competitions, and joint research at national labs, to develo

Exactly 21 years after first Digest story, GAO and FCC still talking about digital divide

Exactly 21 years after the SSTI Weekly Digest ran its first story on the digital divide, a recent report by the Government Accountability Office confirms what inestimable studies before it have reported: access to broadband has expanded, but significant shortcomings in broadband still exist. Meanwhile, the Federal Communications Commission has issued new rules to improve collection and mapping of broadband availability. The commission is also seeking comments on proposals to ensure the accuracy of the new broadband coverage maps.

Experts examine challenges facing research universities

In an hours-long virtual workshop that could have covered days, the presidents of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine and leaders from government, academia, and publishing explored key questions the research enterprise must address to build a more effective and resilient 21st century research university. Facing challenges that may have long been present but have been exacerbated and accelerated by the COVID-19 crisis, the leaders began exploring questions that could help research universities rebound to a better place than the pre-pandemic status quo.

Must read: The economic impact of access to higher ed

At a time when higher education is facing some of its greatest challenges, its value both for individuals and for states is reinforced through the findings of a recent working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research. In “The Economic Impact of Access to Public Four-Year Colleges,” Jonathan Smith et al. show through an examination of the University System of Georgia that access to public higher education leads to “substantial economic benefits for the marginal student,” and that the state roughly breaks even on its initial investment after 10 years. Although other studies have provided descriptive evidence that identify colleges as catalysts for economic mobility, the authors looked for causal evidence of the linkage and employ a novel approach through credit bureau data.

Innovation impacts of nation’s colleges and universities examined

A new report released by the George W. Bush Institute has measured the impact that innovation research at U.S. universities and research institutions has had on the country’s economic development. The report, The Innovation Impact of U.S. Universities: Rankings and Policy Conclusions, examines and ranks institutions on four primary impact categories: commercialization, entrepreneurship, research, and teaching.

New research provides empirical support for relationship building to encourage innovation economies

As discussion of innovation ecosystems remains near the front of science, technology, and innovation policy discussions — and resources are spent providing environments for creative exchange between researchers, industry, government, and entrepreneurs — substantive and empirical research is still lagging. However, a recent study sheds new light on the mechanisms and types of interactions that may contribute to the desired outcomes of promoting innovation ecosystems.

House committee creates plan for net zero emissions

The majority staff of the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis released a “roadmap” this week for the U.S. to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 and net negative emissions through the rest of the century. The plan says these climate goals can be achieved while growing the economy and improving public health.

Seed and initial financing deals dive in Q2

The PitchBook-NVCA Venture Monitor Q2 2020 shows that COVID-19 is having an impact on the earliest parts of the venture capital funnel. By extrapolating the first half data through the rest of 2020, initial investments are on pace for a 26 percent decline from 2019, and the fewest total deals since 2010. Continuing this same extrapolation, seed investments are on track for a 36 percent decline in 2020 from 2019 and also the lowest level in at least seven years.

Useful Stats: Science and engineering degrees by state

The total number of science and engineering (S&E) degrees awarded grew from 520,474 in 2000 to 955,401 in 2018, an increase of 83 percent, according to National Science Foundation (NSF) data. The portion of S&E degrees awarded compared to all degrees has increased as well, from a 2000 average of 31 percent of all degrees awarded to an average of 34 percent in 2018. S&E degrees includes bachelors, masters and doctoral degrees in areas such as life sciences, physical sciences and engineering.

$194.7 million grant boosts U of A research, creates new institute

The Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation is making a $194.7 million grant to advance research and economic development at the University of Arkansas and will allow a new research institute to become reality. The grant is expected to grow the university’s cross-disciplinary research capability, expand the scope of discoveries made by U of A researchers and increase the speed in transferring such discoveries to the marketplace.

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