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.

TechShop closing reverberates in maker space

When TechShop unexpectedly closed its 10 locations around the country on Nov. 15, announcing its intention to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, it not only surprised many who were affiliated with the maker space, but raised questions surrounding the larger maker space community. Dan Woods, CEO of TechShop, cited financial reasons for the closing. They had earlier announced the closing of the Pittsburgh shop, but had opened a new shop in Brooklyn, New York, just weeks before the sudden closure. While the future of those facilities is still undetermined, those in the maker space community say the demand for maker spaces has not diminished and they continue to evolve.

Recent EDA grants support innovation – inspiration for other regions

Grant programs administered by the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) under the Public Works and Economic Development Act (PWEDA) increasingly support projects to help distressed regions across the country to become more competitive in a science and technology-intensive global economy. The examples below of projects receiving federal PWEDA funds in just the past two months may help inspire similar innovation initiatives in other parts of the country.

Newly elected governors support innovation strategies

The innovation economy is a featured component of both newly elected governors’ agendas, with each showing support for TBED-related initiatives in their platforms. In New Jersey, Governor-elect Phil Murphy (D) has pledged to reclaim the state’s innovation economy while in Virginia Governor-elect Ralph Northam (D) proposed a new workforce development plan focused on “the new-collar jobs of the 21st century.”

States’ ability to thrive in new economy measured

While traditional economic development within the states has shifted to an economy more reliant on innovation, many policy discussions remain mired in acknowledging just some of the more recognized tech-based regions, says the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) in its latest report. However, as economic indicators reveal that all states’ economies incorporate some degree of innovation as a driver of their economy, the 2017 State New Economy Index measures states’ capacities to function in this new economy.

Startup Act would reauthorize Regional Innovation Strategies, implement commercialization grants

Senators Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.) along with Senators Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.)  introduced the Startup Act today – legislation that would help regions throughout the country address critical gaps between R&D and economic prosperity. SSTI has worked with the offices on sections of the bill that reauthorize and expand the Regional Innovation Strategies program and would implement a new commercialization grants program. SSTI supports the Startup Act (S. 1877) and calls upon other senators to cosponsor this bill and for the House to take up the legislation.

RIS awardees plan to bring products to market

In the most recent round of Regional Innovation Strategies (RIS) funding, 42 organizations from 28 states were awarded $17 million to support the creation and expansion of tech transformation networks (i6 Challenge) and early-stage seed capital funds (the Seed Fund Support). In total, EDA’s awards leveraged over $22 million in private, state and local matching funds. Eight of those winners are members of SSTI and we heard from several of them on what this award will mean for their organization.  SSTI’s Innovation Advocacy Council has been instrumental in supporting the program, working with members of Congress to ensure its continued success.


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