congress

Regional innovation highlights in infrastructure bill

Editor’s note: The Senate passed the Infrastructure and Investment Jobs Act on Aug. 10, 2021. This article has been updated to reflect the final amendments and new information on next steps for the legislation.

House committee approves $50 million for Build to Scale, $275 million for MEP and more

The House Committee on Appropriations advanced an FY 2022 funding bill that provides for substantial increases to many science and innovation programs. The Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS) bill includes $50 million for the Build to Scale program — a top priority for SSTI’s Innovation Advocacy Council, $275 million for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership, $9.6 billion for the National Science Foundation and more. Highlights from the bill for regional innovation economies follows:

Innovation Advocacy Council chair testifies on SBA programs and job creation

Last week, SSTI’s Innovation Advocacy Council chair Ben Johnson (also of BioSTL) testified before a subcommittee of the House Committee on Small Business about the role that innovation plays in job creation and how the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Regional Innovation Clusters (RIC) and Growth Accelerators Fund Competition (GAFC) support these efforts.

Building blocks of regional innovation economies explored; SSTI gives testimony in support of national effort

Outlining the need for a new national effort to build regional innovation economies, a panel of experts gave testimony to the Research and Technology subcommittee of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, chaired by Rep. Haley Stevens (D-MI). The panel focused on how regions have developed their innovation economies and how those experiences could be replicated across the country with federal support. SSTI President and CEO Dan Berglund's testimony drew from SSTI members’ experience and his more than 35 years in the field to make the case that a robust federal response was required with a national strategy and federal funding to support state and local organizations as they develop regional innovation economies. The hearing comes as the U.S. Senate approved a regional technology hubs program, as part of the Endless Frontiers Act, which passed the Senate with bipartisan support this week (see related story).

Endless Frontier Act would expand federal science, innovation competitiveness

Last week, a bipartisan, bicameral group of legislators reintroduced the Endless Frontier Act, a bill that would authorize more than $112 billion over five years for new research and commercialization activities within the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Department of Commerce. This proposal would establish multiple tools at each agency to support regional innovation economies. Sen. Schumer (D-NY), the driving force behind the legislation and the Senate majority leader, is looking to advance the bill through the Senate quickly, but is being slowed down despite bipartisan support.

Senate restructures science, commerce subcommittees

The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation announced a new structure for its subcommittees in the 117th Congress, bringing the total number from six to seven. The subcommittees are:

Members named to entrepreneurship and innovation committees in the 117th Congress

Editor’s notes. Feb. 18: We have updated the article to reflect assignments to key subcommittees in both the House and Senate. 

Changes coming to congressional science, small business committees

As of this writing, control of Congress remains officially undecided, although the end result will likely be status quo: Republican control of the Senate and Democratic control of the House. While the discourse and activity around major legislation may not change, there will be changes to the committees that most strongly impact science and small business legislation. The new members will not be determined until the next session, but multiple departures from these committees are already known.

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 developing innovations that can be transformed by new and established companies into new products and jobs.

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. In the area of climate and manufacturing, the committee proposes supporting the building or retrofitting of facilities, creating domestic markets for low-emissions goods, and developing new supply chains in cleantech industries. For innovation, the committee’s proposals include facilitating technology transfer through regional partnerships and a Department of Energy foundation, financing decarbonization technologies, and engaging environmental justice groups in R&D priorities.

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