Congress Appropriates $10M for Regional Innovation Program

The FY14 Omnibus Appropriations bill, which the U.S. House of Representatives passed yesterday and the U.S. Senate is expected to pass on Friday, contains $10 million for the Regional Innovation program in the U.S. Department of Commerce’s budget. This is the first time the grant portion of the program was directly funded.  The program was authorized in the America COMPETES Act of 2010 and establishes the program “to encourage and support the development of regional innovation strategies, including regional innovation clusters and science and research parks.”

Congress Moves Forward to Address Immigration Reform in 2013

While Congress remains in deadlock over another looming budget crisis, there is bipartisan movement on national immigration reform. Last week, a bipartisan group of senators introduced the Immigration Innovation Act of 2013 that focuses on reforming immigration law for high-skilled workers and promoting U.S. global leadership in innovation. Components of the proposed bill include increasing the quantity of H-1B visas, increasing access to green cards for high-skilled workers while eliminating country-based quotas, and providing a pathway for citizenship for foreign-born students who complete post-graduate degrees at U.S. universities in STEM-related fields.

Tech Lobby Presence Grows in D.C.

In 2012, the tech industry lobby substantially ramped up their efforts to influence the federal legislative agenda. In the coming year, they are poised to grow their influence in Washington as debates rage over the future of technology investment programs and regulatory policies.

Senators Introduce Startup Act 2.0 to Accelerate New Business Development, Expansion

Sens. Moran (R-KS), Warner (D-VA), Rubio (R-FL), and Coons (D-DE) introduced legislation on Tuesday that would continue to spur the economy through the creation of new businesses. Senate Bill 3217, also known as Startup Act 2.0, expands on the initial Startup Act introduced by Sens. Moran and Warner in December, and builds on the success of the JOBS Act passed with bipartisan support in both houses and signed by President Obama earlier this year.

U.S. House and Senate Subcommittees Consider FY13 Funding for Commerce, NASA, NSF

This week, both the U.S. House and the Senate Appropriations Subcommittees on Commerce, Justice, Science and related agencies (CJS) approved FY13 funding legislation supporting several key TBED agencies. Press releases from the Senate CJS subcommittee and the House appropriations committee suggest that funding for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) program will likely remain close to the level indicated in the president's FY13 budget at $128 million or a bit higher. FY13 funding for the Economic Development Administration (EDA) is less certain, with the current Senate bill allocating $238 million and the House bill funding it at only $220 million.

Senate Continues Debate Over SBIR Reauthorization

With the Senate in recess, debate over SBIR/STTR reauthorization has been temporarily put on hold for the week. The reauthorization act has landed at the center of a larger congressional debate over federal spending, due to the more than 80 amendments that have been submitted for consideration. Most of these amendments propose spending cuts unrelated to SBIR. The main text of the bill would extend the SBIR and STTR programs through 2019 and increase award levels for Phase I and Phase II awards. It would also allow companies that are majority-owned by venture capital firms to receive some awards.


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