SBA grants $3 million to support small business innovation and R&D commercialization

Twenty-four local economic development entities, Small Business Technology Development Centers, Women’s Business Centers, incubators, accelerators, colleges and universities were granted $125,000 by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) under the Federal and State Technology (FAST) Partnership Program. The 24 grant recipients, including seven that are members of SSTI (boldfaced below), provide support to small businesses developing and commercializing high-risk technologies.

NLC announces ‘Call to Action’ with commitments to innovation, entrepreneurship, and STEM

The National League of Cities is asking local public, private, and civic leaders to make new, measurable, and impactful commitments to increasing the adoption of technology, improving the climate for entrepreneurship, and expanding youth and adult opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) at the local level. By making a commitment, NLC invites cities to take part in its City Innovation Ecosystems program, which seeks to help local leaders achieve their goals by marketing and branding best practices, providing technical assistance, promoting peer learnings, and connecting cities to national private and philanthropic partners. NLC will highlight accepted commitments at its City Summit in Los Angeles from November 7-10.

KY pivots to new innovation model

After 20 years of a program that had supported innovation in the state of Kentucky, the governor said he wanted to consolidate the funding to support entrepreneurs and become more strategic in the state’s efforts. This month, the state unveiled a new program — Regional Innovation for Startups and Entrepreneurs (RISE), a strategy that unites each area’s most powerful economic drivers, prioritizes commercialization and promotes rapid scaling.  The new strategy is designed to decrease duplication of efforts and get investments more directly to entrepreneurs, said Brian Mefford, the executive director of KY Innovation.

Regional innovation funding and economic development investments highlighted in EDA report

Working with public and private-sector partners across the U.S., the EDA invested approximately $289.1 million in 815 locally-driven economic development projects in FY 2017, according to its most recent annual report. The report provides examples of the projects it funds in each state, to help show the breadth and diversity of the programs and projects it funds. It also provides an interactive map detailing the summary and case studies of investments for any given state or territory.

Solar solutions can compete for $3 M in solar prize contest

American Made Solar Challenge is seeking teams of creative individuals and entrepreneurs to compete for prize money and strategic support in accelerating ideas and solutions. In a three-part series of contests, $3 million will be awarded in cash prizes and up to $525,000 in vouchers, which can be used at national laboratories and other voucher facilities to develop, test and validate ideas in the energy marketplace.

Global summit set to explore innovation

This June, the Innovation Growth Lab's (IGL) third global annual conference will explore future innovation, entrepreneurship and small business policies. The summit, happening in Boston June 12-14 at Harvard Business School and MIT, includes more than 50 world-leading experts and participants from over 20 countries coming together as part of a global community at the forefront of innovation. Discussions will range from how to accelerate economic growth and make it more inclusive to support for local startup ecosystems and how to increase innovation and productivity in small businesses. There will also be a range of capacity-building workshops on new policy tools and methods led by organizations such as NASA, the SBA, the World Bank, Harvard Catalyst, and others. Registration is still open and more information is available here.

DOE considering competition to address water issues

U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry is calling on Americans’ competitive spirit to help solve critical water issues. Perry led a roundtable discussion last week on the use of federal prizes and challenges to drive innovation in dealing with water issues such as alternative water supplies, reducing water treatment costs, greater efficiency in usage, and advancing market-based solutions that incentivize innovation and cooperation. The roundtable, which included government and industry representatives along with experts from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory and Idaho National Laboratory and others, was a first step toward launching a potential grand challenge. DOE has released an RFI to solicit input from the public and may use the information it gathers to develop challenges and prize competitions to address key water issues. Comments to the RFI are due by May 14, 2018.

Questions for economic developers on cybersecurity and AI

The World Economic Forum (WEF) identified cybersecurity breaches along with environmental degradation caused by human-induced climate change, as the top two risks to the global economy over the next 10 years, according to the 2018 Global Risks Report, the Forum’s annual survey of nearly 1,000 experts from across the planet.  With evidence mounting of Russian hacking of the U.S. elections in 2016, increasingly common cyberattacks on the mega databanks of several of the country’s largest corporations, and computer viruses growing more serious in their potential disruption, the WEF concerns seem justified.

Banks, broadband and CRA – financing innovation opportunity

Can banks meet Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) obligations by helping address high-speed broadband gaps and the digital divide? Participants in a recent Federal Reserve webinar said yes and provided tips on how.

Achieving an equitable innovation economy

A range of equity-based strategies to support scale-up programming for small-scale manufacturers are among the findings of a recent report from the Urban Manufacturing Alliance (UMA). In Making, Scaling and Inclusion, UMA found that the economic development field is hungry for strategies that remove employment barriers and build the talent of low-income and economically disadvantaged communities to drive economic growth in their cities and the report offers guidance for building equitable innovation economies.


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