FCC moves ahead with $20 billion rural broadband funding plan

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced last week that it has approved the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund which will provide $20.4 billion over two phases to help expand broadband networks throughout rural communities. Phase one will provide $16 billion for use in communities that are currently unserved by broadband services with minimal download speeds of 25 megabits per second (Mbps) and 3 Mbps upload speeds. The remaining funds will be used in phase two which will target underserved communities after a more extensive and focused analysis has been completed to better define “underserved” areas.

Virginia tech talent initiative fueled by Amazon need

Students and tech employers stand to benefit from a new initiative in Virginia that grew out of the Commonwealth’s proposal to Amazon, which is building its second headquarters in Northern Virginia. Last week, Gov. Ralph Northam announced that Virginia will invest in their tech talent pipeline to produce 31,000 new computer science graduates over 20 years.

Decreased state funding for higher ed resulting in higher costs for students, increased inequality

Rising tuition and worsened racial and class inequality are two of the effects of decreasing state support for higher education, according to a recent report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.  In it the authors detail how overall state funding for public two- and four-year colleges has not fully recovered in most states following the recession, leaving higher costs and reduced services in many cases. Today’s cohort of students are more racially and economically diverse than previous cohorts, and tuition rates, which have risen faster than median income, increase the cost burden of attending college and could deter low-income students and students of color, who have traditionally faced greater barriers to entry, from attending. Lower attendance can in turn threaten the outlook for communities and states, which increasingly rely on an educated workforce to grow and thrive, the report asserts.

Declining innovation funding threatens future economy

Two recent reports highlight the importance of funding innovation in the U.S., and give a glimpse into the perils of ignoring it. The reports, from The Aspen Institute and Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF), independently corroborate the role of the public sector in ensuring a more prosperous future through innovation. The Aspen report, An Innovation Challenge for the United States, warns that the innovation culture forged in this country following World War II is now at risk, while the ITIF report focuses on the dwindling support for higher education from both the state and federal levels and details how such changes could negatively impact the research and development efforts that help build the innovation economy.

SBA announces 60 accelerators competition winners

SBA’s 2019 Growth Accelerators Fund Competition winners were announced yesterday, awarding $50,000 to each of 60 organizations across the country. Special congratulations to the SSTI members, including BioSTL (BioGenerator), TechTown Detroit, Startup Junkie Foundation (Fuel), Invest Nebraska, Launch Tennessee, Innovation Works, Arrowhead Center (Sprints), and University of Illinois (EnterpriseWorks). The competition is for programs with 60 percent of funded work dedicated to supporting women, socially and economically disadvantaged individuals, and entrepreneurs in states with relatively few SBIR/STTR awards or in Opportunity Zones. SSTI held a webinar when the 2019 competition launched and will announce the 2020 round, when available, through the member-exclusive Funding Supplement.

SSTI partners with NSF to bring you latest in funding, entrepreneurial support

We are excited to be partnering with NSF during SSTI’s Annual Conference, Sept.9 through 11 in Providence, Rhode Island, to bring you the latest information and ideas on SBIR/STTR and university/industry partnerships.

State funding for higher ed only half recovered

State funding for higher education has only halfway recovered in the 10 years since the Great Recession, according to a recent State Higher Education Finance (SHEF) report. The report also found that while higher education funding is stabilizing, the shift to greater reliance on tuition as a revenue source has leveled off, but remains higher than since before the Great Recession. During the Great Recession, appropriations dropped 24.4 percent from the high in 2008 ($8,848 per full-time equivalent enrollment) to $4,489 in 2012 due to enrollment growth without a proportional funding increase. That trend reversed in 2013 as appropriations increased for five straight years, but have remained flat from 2017 to 2018.

Useful Stats: Higher Education R&D expenditures distributed unevenly across metro areas

The growth and intensity of higher education R&D (HERD) expenditures varies considerably across metropolitan areas, a recent SSTI analysis of National Science Foundation data finds. New York ($4.3 billion), Boston ($3.2 billion), and Baltimore ($2.9 billion) had the highest overall levels of HERD expenditures in 2016. In that same year, Ithaca, New York (19.1 percent), State College, Pennsylvania (9.5 percent), and College Station, Texas (9.4 percent) had the highest levels of HERD intensity – measured as the share of HERD expenditures to gross metropolitan product. While overall HERD expenditures increased by nearly $7.5 billion nationwide from 2011 to 2016, more than half of this total (50.6 percent) went to the 10 metro areas with the most HERD expenditures in 2016. 


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