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SSTI Digest

NSF expands its advanced materials network with nine new centers

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is expanding a network of research centers across the country to translate university-based R&D into new, and hopefully, better advanced materials. In late June, NSF announced the distribution of $162 million to support the creation of nine more Materials Research Science & Engineering Centers (MRSECs), bringing the total number of centers to twenty. Each of the new centers will receive $18 million over six years.

Senate committee continues Commerce, Science funding for FY 2024

The Senate appropriations committee advanced a set of FY 2024 funding bills this morning that largely continue level funding from FY 2023. While the full bill text is not yet available, a press release about the commerce and science bill identified $200 million for the Engines program at NSF, $175 million for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership at NIST, and $50 million for Build to Scale, $41 million for Tech Hubs, and $2.5 million for the STEM Talent Challenge at EDA. These amounts are all inline with the funding provided through regular FY 2023 appropriations but do not yet include any of the supplementary amounts included in last year’s omnibus (e.g., Tech Hubs was funded at a total of $500 million in FY 2023); see SSTI’s article on FY 2023 funding for details. The House subcommittee overseeing commerce and science funding is expected to advance its FY 2024 bill tomorrow morning. Senate appropriations also advanced funding for SBA this morning, but program funding levels are unavailable.

Join your peers at SSTI conference in Atlanta this Sept. 6-8

SSTI’s Annual Conference is in Atlanta this Sept. 6-8. The event will feature numerous opportunities to connect with your peers from across the country who are working to strengthen their regional innovation economies through roundtables focused on specific areas of practice and workshops on communications, building stronger organizations, and diversity, equity, and inclusion. The entire conference is available for a registration fee of just $390. Reserve your spot today!

NOFO for $200M Recompete released; take another look at your area’s eligibility

Did you use the Recompete Mapping Tool to check your eligibility for this new EDA funding opportunity when the fact sheet and map were first released? If you did, and you got the response, “Contact your local economic development office” don’t stop there! EDA has updated its mapping tool in the past few days to reflect significant flexibility in program eligibility. These changes mean that many more regions may be able to successfully compete for strategy development awards and, ultimately, implementation awards.

SBIR reduction at DOE

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has reduced its funding for the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. The cut at the Office of Science—the agency’s primary program administrator—appears to be about 35%. The change resulted from congressional direction that the agency had miscalculated its SBIR set-aside and is intended to make the Office of Science’s calculation more consistent with that of the other programs in DOE. The reduction will likely result in tougher competition for SBIR/STTR awards at the agency in the foreseeable future.

Forecast predicts generative AI to make many white-collar workers blue

If a recent forecast from McKinsey & Company is correct, climate change isn’t the only rough ride ahead over the next decade for regional and national economies.

NIST plans to increase public access to federally funded research results

NIST has released a plan to make its scientific data and publications more readily available and accessible, following a memo from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) instructing all government agencies to do so. NIST has presented its plan in its June 30 Draft for Public Comment, now open for comment. Comments may be submitted until 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on August 14 here.

DOL is looking for apprenticeship advisors

The Acting Secretary of Labor (Secretary) requests nominations of qualified candidates to be considered for appointment to the Advisory Committee on Apprenticeship (ACA) for the 2023-2025 membership term. Registered Apprenticeship is highly dependent on its stakeholders' and partners' engagement and involvement for its operational effectiveness. Apart from the ACA, there is no single organization or group with the broad representation of employers, labor unions, and public entities available to consider the complexities and relationship of apprenticeship activities to other training efforts or to provide advice on such matters to the Secretary,

Gen Z workforce inspires shift in broadband

As more households rely on faster forms of internet, broadband internet service has begun to be treated as a necessity in the home and workplace. But its use has varied by generation; according to Pew Research Center, 99% of US adults ages 18-29 report using the internet, while only 75% of senior citizens (65+) can say the same.

Mississippi, Tribal Governments receive SSBCI funds

This week, the U.S. Department of the Treasury approved the state of Mississippi and 15 Tribal Governments for State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) awards. Mississippi is receiving $86 million to launch four programs, including a $15 million fund investment program and an $11 million direct investment program. Treasury approved the funding of six venture capital programs from the awards to Tribal Governments: Chickasaw Nation ($8.0 million), Inupiat Community of the Arctic Slope ($2.9 million), Ninilchik Village ($0.7 million), Levelock Village ($0.6 million), Redding Rancheria ($0.6 million), and Osage Nation (VC program amount not specified from the $5.1 million total award).

White House announces $42.5B in broadband allocations

On June 26, 2023, the U.S. government announced allocations from the $42.45 Billion Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program. These funds, allocated to all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and five territories, are intended to close the digital divide in the U.S., as funding will be used to deploy or upgrade broadband networks to ensure that everyone in the U.S. has access to reliable, affordable, high-speed Internet service.

Supreme Court rules against Affirmative Action

Today, the Supreme Court ended Affirmative Action on college campuses. The syllabus (headnote) to the decision stated: “Because Harvard's and UNC's admissions programs lack sufficiently focused and measurable objectives warranting the use of race, unavoidably employ race in a negative manner, involve racial stereotyping, and lack meaningful end points, those admissions programs cannot be reconciled with the guarantees of the Equal Protection Clause.”