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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.


Security risks prompt scrutiny of foreign startup investment

Concerns over national security have prompted the Treasury Department’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. (CFIUS) to force international investors to divest from two American tech startups, a move that will affect entrepreneurs and investors alike, according to a recent article by from Jeff Farrah of the National Venture Capital Association.

Next-gen company ownership: States supporting employees as successors

As the American population ages — by 2035, the country will have more people aged at least 65 than under 18 — so do the country’s business owners. Over the past few years, several studies have attempted to measure how many companies may transition ownership over the next decade, with estimates ranging as high as 10 million small businesses. These studies generally agree that while changes are on the horizon, few companies are even as prepared as having identified a potential successor. Colorado and Massachusetts are stepping into this planning void with a suggestion of their own: transitioning interested small businesses to employee ownership.

Tech Talkin’ Govs, part 9: Louisiana celebrates surplus after facing fiscal cliff

This week SSTI wraps up this year’s coverage of innovation-related initiatives covered in governors’ state of the state and budget addresses. This week Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards was the last governor to deliver a state of the state address in 2019, and he used his time to highlight the state’s surplus, a first since he has been in office. The governor is taking advantage of the new financial security to focus on funding for basics such as teacher pay and education among other things.

VC continues strong investment in first quarter

The trend of fewer, larger deals that emerged over the past few years continued through the first quarter of 2019, according to newly released data from PitchBook and the National Venture Capital Association. U.S. activity in the quarter included $32.6 billion of capital investment on 1,853 deals, making it the second-highest quarterly capital investment total in the last decade.

SBA Regional Innovation Cluster awardees revealed

Seven regional innovation cluster (RIC) initiatives have each been awarded $500,000 from the U.S. Small Business Administration. Although the SBA has yet to publish an official press release indicating the release of the 2019 Regional Innovation Cluster awardees, SSTI identified the awardees through other sources, such as USASpending.gov and a review of local news media. Read on for more information on the program’s awardees.

Community colleges named in college excellence program

Two community colleges in Florida became the winners of the 2019 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, which recognizes high achievement and performance among America’s community colleges. Winners were Indian River State College (IRSC) ($350,000) in Fort Pierce, Florida, and Miami Dade College ($350,000) in Miami; Odessa College and Palo Alto College in Texas and Pierce College in Washington were named as Rising Stars ($100,000 each).

Kapor Center, Gates Foundation launch $1M grant competition to diversify tech sector

The Oakland-based Kapor Center, a nonprofit focused on leveling the playing field in tech, has announced the Tech Done Right (TDR) Challenge with funds from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. With an emphasis on growing opportunities for women and people of color in the sector, the challenge will fund organizations with innovative solutions to building diverse, inclusive, and thriving tech ecosystems. Awardees will receive one-time grants beginning at $100,000. The challenge is now open and accepting applications here, with a submission deadline of Tuesday, May 7.

Chinese VC market continues rapid ascent

While the overall Chinese economy may be facing a slowdown, the venture capital (VC) market continues to report strong growth and became the second largest VC market by total capital invested in 2018, according to a new report from PitchBook.

States making progress in evaluating tax incentives; new tool explores costs and benefits

A recent article from Pew Charitable Trusts shows how routine evaluations can help states make tangible improvements to their tax incentives. According to Pew, 30 states now have laws requiring evaluation of the incentives, and recent examinations in several states included key components that helped to inform the results. When analyses started with an effort to determine the specific goals of each incentive, their effectiveness was more easily determined.

Report offers guidance for university-community partnerships in urban areas

University-based economic development practitioners seeking to improve their relationships with urban areas have a new resource guide available to them, thanks to research from the Thriving Cities Lab at the University of Virginia’s Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture. The lab offers guidance for colleges and universities and in its Field Guide for Urban University-Community Partnerships, authors Joshua Yates and Michaela Accardi conduct three interrelated analyses.  First, their report looks at 100 urban colleges and universities with a focus on how they interact with their home cities. Second, they cluster universities into five-distinct groups based on the types of strategies and activities they employ related to community partnerships. Based on this analysis, the authors highlight best practices at universities across the country, with a focus on specific outcomes, challenges experienced, and lessons learned, and conclude with a stepwise framework to assist colleges and universities, as well as recommendations for practitioners to make the most of these findings.

Innovation, broadband, higher education initiatives get state support

Innovation initiatives are seeing increased funding in some states as legislatures across the country begin to finalize budget bills and other legislation. SSTI continues to monitor these developments and this week we cover budget bills in Idaho that saw small increases to the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) program, as well as increases in the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and STEM Action Center, and new funding for a computer science initiative. South Dakota will see an increase in funding for the Governor’s Office of Economic Development and West Virginia passed bills creating an SBIR/STTR matching grant program, support for community and technical college tuition assistance, expansion of broadband service, and other innovation-related initiatives in its budget that passed earlier in March.

Useful stats: Labor force participation and employment by state and metro status, 2013-2017

The U.S. unemployment rate is near its 50-year low, but the portion of the population in the labor force is also near a 40-year low.

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