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SSTI Digest

SBA Growth Accelerator Fund Competition Opens January 8

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announced the 2024 Growth Accelerator Fund Competition (GAFC) on January 8. The competition offers $50,000 to $200,000 in prize awards “for impactful and inclusive approaches to foster a thriving, collaborative national innovation support ecosystem to advance research and development (R&D) from ideas to impact.” The competition is not intended to provide capital directly to companies for R&D projects. The prizes will be awarded in two stages.

Useful Stats: Microbusinesses executed $6.1 billion of domestic R&D in 2021

In 2021, U.S. microbusinesses reported $8.1 billion in research and development (R&D) expenditures, of which the microbusinesses themselves performed 75% ($6.1 billion) The $6.1 billion in microbusiness-performed R&D represents an increase of 9% over the prior year and 17% since 2019. Microbusinesses are those with nine or fewer employees.

22 Recompete Pilot Program finalists named

The U.S. Department of Commerce's Economic Development Administration (EDA) recently announced the 22 finalists of the Distressed Area Recompete Pilot Program (Recompete) and 24 Strategy Development Grants. Recompete, authorized through the CHIPS and Science Act, targets the hardest-hit and most economically distressed areas of the country, specifically ones where prime-age (25-54 years) employment is significantly lower than the national average. Projects that are ultimately selected for funding connect workers to good jobs in geographically diverse and persistently distressed communities nationwide. The finalists will now submit proposals for $20-50 million. The Strategy Development Grants will be used to help communities significantly increase local coordination and planning activities. Such development could make selected grantees more competitive for future Recompete funding.

Useful Stats: Higher Education R&D by State and Institution

The United States is home to some of the world's most prestigious universities, each performing critical research that helps advance the country’s innovation economy. However, these universities are not evenly distributed across the country; many are concentrated within large cities in states where their spillover further impacts the local economies.

NSF announces Accelerating Research Translation awards

The National Science Foundation recently announced awarding more than $100 million to 18 teams at academic institutions across the nation through the Accelerating Research Translation (ART) program. An NSF press release states, “NSF's investment will enable academic institutions to accelerate the pace and scale of translational research that will grow the nation's economy.”

U.S. House Select Committee releases report on U.S.-China competition

A bipartisan report from the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party says the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has failed to live up to the foundational principles of the World Trade Organization—open, market-oriented, non-discriminatory treatment. In its report, "Reset, Prevent, Build: A Strategy to Win America's Economic Competition with the Chinese Communist Party," the committee calls for resetting the U.S.'s economic relationship with China. They propose to do so, in part, through new research security measures and controls on technology exports.

DOE Launches New Office to Coordinate Critical and Emerging Technology

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently announced the Office of Critical and Emerging Technology launch. A DOE press release explains that the office has been created “to ensure U.S. investments in areas such as artificial intelligence (AI), biotechnology, quantum computing, and semiconductors leverage the department’s wide range of assets and expertise to accelerate progress in these critical sectors.”

The defense bill contains fewer provisions related to research, technology, and entrepreneurship than initially proposed

The National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2024, signed in late December, ultimately contained fewer provisions related to research, technology, and entrepreneurship than the draft versions of the legislation initially proposed. Nonetheless, the final bill made some changes that could stabilize some of the department’s innovation activities in recent years and add some flexibility for companies and organizations engaging in technology transfer activities with defense institutions. Specifically, four sections worth noting in the FY 2024 NDAA are the following:

NY announces $1B for semiconductor R&D center; U.S. Department of Commerce awards $35M as first step in implementation phase of CHIPS and Science

Activity to build the U.S. semiconductor industry picked up steam on Monday, December 11. On that day, New York State, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced the state was committing $1 billion to what her office described as “a $10 billion partnership with leaders from the semiconductor industry such as IBM, Micron, Applied Materials, Tokyo Electron, and others to establish a next-generation semiconductor research and development center at NY CREATES’ Albany NanoTech Complex.” Also on that day, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced the U.S. Department of Commerce and BAE Systems Electronic Systems, a business unit of BAE Systems, Inc., have signed a non-binding preliminary memorandum of terms (PMT) to provide approximately $35 million in federal incentives under the CHIPS and Science Act to support the modernization of the company’s Microelectronics Center in Nashua, New Hampshire.

Useful Stats: HERD expenditures by R&D field and source of funds

Research and Development (R&D) is an essential component of innovation and economic growth, where higher education institutions play a key role. However, with these institutions being responsible for funding just a quarter of all HERD expenditures, it is important to see the influence of outside funding sources on the fields of R&D. For example, Health and Human Services (HHS) has long been the largest contributor of funding into higher education R&D, which is reflected in life sciences being the R&D field with the most significant funding levels.

White House proposes use of march-in rights to help lower prescription drug prices

The Biden-Harris administration recently announced new actions to lower health care and prescription drug costs by promoting competition. These actions include a proposed framework that encourages agencies to use march-in rights to lower the price of prescription medicines. The proposed framework encourages agencies to consider price as a factor in determining whether a drug is genuinely accessible to the public.

Geo-targeting could be the answer to a greener America

Countries participating in the COP28 climate summit agreed this week to call for "transitioning away from fossil fuels in energy systems…”  Earlier this year, researchers at Nature Communications said a full transition from fossil fuels could displace 1.7 million fossil fuel workers in the United States and an even greater number on the global scale.