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SSTI Digest

NSF is accepting EArly-concept Grants for Exploratory Research (EAGER) proposals

The NSF Directorate for Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships (TIP) is accepting EArly-concept Grants for Exploratory Research (EAGER) proposals that will advance the state of the art in assessing place-based innovation's societal and economic impacts. This funding opportunity aims to address gaps in publicly available data and associated knowledge to adequately and appropriately benchmark activities in place-based innovation grounded in integrating research and development, translation, and workforce development. The dear colleague letter  emphasizes the role of cross-sector partnerships in place-based innovation and how to best leverage all of the regional talent to create inclusive and equitable innovation ecosystems.

SEC adopts a final rule requiring disclosures from SPACs

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) adopted a final rule last night, by a 3-2 vote that would require prospective special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs) to disclose their sponsors, compensation, target companies, and conflicts of interest and to require SPAC targets to register with the SEC. As SSTI covered during the pandemic SPAC boom, the vehicle provides private companies with a lower-scrutiny, higher-cost path to enter the public markets by merging with a listed SPAC. Interest in and performance of deals involving SPACs have waned since 2022, but this is also true of the more traditional initial public offering path to the public markets. The impact of the SEC's changes, therefore, may be difficult to determine until more investors are ready to drive private companies to the public markets. See sec.gov for the final rule, comments, and factsheet.

Useful Stats: Income inequality across the states

Income inequality in the U.S. has increased from 2006 to 2022, according to American Community Survey (ACS) data. While it’s increased in the nation as a whole, it decreased in North Dakota, Washington, Hawaii, Nebraska, and Montana from 2018 to 2022. New York and Washington, D.C. lead the nation in income inequality. This edition of Useful Stats explores state-level Gini index data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s ACS, analyzed by the State Health Access Data Assistance Center (SHADAC) at the University of Minnesota.

Recent Research: Paper challenges value of impact VC investors

A working paper by a team of Harvard-affiliated researchers presents challenging findings for growth equity impact investors. Given the potential alignment between this sector of the market and publicly funded capital access programs (including many venture development organizations and the State Small Business Credit Initiative), this research may find its way into public policy debates. The paper, which has not yet been published in an academic journal, also contains several shortcomings in its approach that should caution any stakeholders from acting on its findings alone.

Tech Talkin’ Govs 2024: Innovation agendas from the governors’ State of the State addresses—Part 2

In this week’s continuing coverage of gubernatorial addresses as they impact the innovation economy, New Mexico Governor calls for $170 million to bolster hydrogen, geothermal and next-generation battery storage. Rhode Island Governor proposes building a new life science school at the University of Rhode Island and cybersecurity bond to grow Rhode Island College’s cybersecurity program. Meanwhile, West Virginia’s governor proposes increasing spending to attract people to move to the state.

Nearly 1 in 5 US workers are over 65 as retirements are delayed

The workforce is growing older, and that’s very likely a good thing for U.S. productivity. Various statistics reveal the active workforce over 65 is more likely to have higher education levels than historically, working at a 0.75 full-time equivalent rate on average, and is working for lower wages on average than younger workers.

Artificial intelligence and the US labor market

Artificial intelligence (AI) is already well integrated into the American workforce; in 2022, 19% of American workers were in jobs identified as most exposed to AI, compared to 23% in the least exposed jobs, according to a study by Pew Research. Jobs identified as most exposed are those in which the most critical responsibilities can either be replaced or assisted by AI. In contrast, the least exposed jobs cannot currently be replaced or assisted. A recent study identified U.S. cities at risk of losing jobs to AI, finding more than 10 million jobs at-risk within those cities.

NSF releases updated tools for profiling US state trends in science and engineering

NSF recently released updates on two ways of profiling trends in science and engineering at the state level: Science and Engineering State Profiles and Science & Engineering Indicators.

Useful Stats: An overview of 2023 VC activity

United States venture capital activity not unexpectedly slowed down in 2023, cooling off after multiple years of record-high deals and values during 2021 and 2022, according to the PitchBook-NVCS Venture Monitor Q4 2023. Pitchbook-NVCS estimates a total deal count of 15,766 (13,608 actual + 2,158 estimated) for 2023– exceeding the values of 2020 and prior years but falling several thousand short of the last two years. Between these deals, just $170.6 billion was invested, a drop of $71.6 billion from 2022 and $177.4 billion from 2021.

Development impacts of disasters revealing longer-term effects on regional growth

Since 1980, billion-dollar climate disasters in the United States have increased an astonishing 749%, from averaging 3.3 throughout the 1980s to 28 in 2023 alone. These data from the NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information include floods, wildfires, droughts, severe storms, tropical cyclones, and winter storms. The finding is consistent with the Fifth National Climate Assessment, released last year, that concluded the rise is due to a combination of increased exposure (i.e., more assets at risk), vulnerability (i.e., how much damage a hazard of given intensity—wind speed, or flood depth, for example—causes at a location), and the fact that climate change is increasing the frequency of some types of extremes that lead to billion-dollar disasters. Because climate change will only get worse given its current trajectory, it is reasonable to expect the number and severity of disaster events will continue to grow. Research shows TBED, systems-based planning, and conventional economic development have roles to play in mitigating future risk.

Maryland’s first State of the Economy report finds almost a decade of stalled economic and population growth

Last week (Jan. 3), Maryland’s state comptroller released the state’s first State of the Economy report. The 110-page document uses publicly available data, academic research, and government studies to analyze relevant economic indicators within the state. It compares that data across neighboring states and nationally to better understand the current economic climate and to help Maryland policymakers understand the sources of weakness, as well as identify the strengths and opportunities available, and to leverage those resources for more sustained, long-term economic growth.

Tech Talkin’ Govs 2024: Innovation agendas from the governors’ State of the State addresses

With the start of the new year, governors have begun to deliver their State of the State addresses, laying out proposals for new programs and discussing the conditions of their states. As states’ revenue levels return to more typical levels, lawmakers, with a few exceptions, are taking a more cautious, or constrained, view of their funding priorities and proposed initiatives. Many governors also appear to be more restrained in their addresses this year, speaking more to the previous year’s successes, suggesting lawmakers tighten their state’s fiscal belts while providing targeted investments into key or signature programs, as well as previously proposed initiatives, rather than rolling out new programs, except in the innovation space related to semiconductors and recently announced tech hubs.