policy

Must Read: An Economist’s Argument for TBED

It is extremely rare for SSTI to use those first two words in a Digest headline. We feel that compulsion today because of a unique (using its original OED definition of “first/one of a kind”) monograph prepared by Greg Tassey, an esteemed economist who served for much of his career as Senior Economist for the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Throughout his work, he has focused an economist’s lens on public policy’s role in technology, standards, economic growth, and industrial innovation, among other related topics.

RFP for Policy Academy on strengthening your state’s manufacturers

NIST Manufacturing Extension Partnership program is seeking participants for its second Policy Academy cohort designed to leverage manufacturing growth in your state. Funded by NIST MEP and organized by SSTI and the Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness (CREC), the Policy Academy will provide participants with an opportunity to collaborate with other states to identify best practices, partnerships, and policies that will strengthen their manufacturers.

Startup Act reintroduced, would expand federal innovation support

Senators Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.), co-signed by Senators Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), re-introduced the Startup Act today. The bill would enact an array of innovation policies, including reauthorizing Regional Innovation Strategies, creating a new commercialization grant program, and implementing a startup visa. SSTI has endorsed the bill and hopes to see the legislation passed by the 116th Congress.

Racial wealth divide: Why being neutral is not enough

How likely would you be to leave your current job to form a startup if you had $3,600 in the bank? Would your interest increase if you had $147,000? While neither amount is enough to scale a business, the latter case obviously affords more cushion to learn the ropes or absorb the impacts of a few missed paychecks. These amounts are the median wealth for black and white households, respectively, according to a new report by the Institute for Policy Studies. While the report does not directly look to entrepreneurship as a factor — nor, notably, as a solution — the implications for regional innovation economies are clear.

NIST tech transfer recommendations a good starting point, more is needed

NIST released a draft paper in December making recommendations for improvements to federal technology transfer and commercialization policy. The agency’s ideas ranged from clarifying march-in rights to compelling agency participation in technology entrepreneurship development. Although NIST is one of the agencies affected by the shutdown, comments on the draft paper were due Jan. 9.

Rural broadband emerging as early theme for 2019

Action toward improving the availability and speed of broadband in rural areas is emerging as an early theme in 2019, continuing activity from 2018. Oregon, Washington and the USDA all announced new initiatives last month. In mid-December, the USDA announced the availability of $600 million in grants and loans to support improvement of broadband accessibility across rural America. Funding is split into three equal pools. Up to $200 million may be awarded as grants (deadline for proposals is April 29); $200 million may be awarded as low-interest loans (applications due June 28); and $200 million may be distributed in a mix of grants and loans (proposals are due May 29).  Projects funded through this initiative must serve communities with fewer than 20,000 people with no broadband service or where service is slower than 10 megabits per second (mbps) download and 1 mbps upload.

New Farm Bill programs aim to cultivate rural innovation

The latest Farm Bill, expected to be signed into law Thursday, contains provisions that could provide significant new tools for rural innovations. The two greatest opportunities are the Rural Innovation Stronger Economy (RISE) grant program, which creates an innovation cluster and strategy program for rural regions, and a change to allow the existing Community Facilities program to support incubators, makerspaces, and job training centers.

Global panel planned to study changes wrought by AI

The governments of France and Canada said last week they would create a joint International Panel on Artificial Intelligence (IPAI) to study and respond to the changes resulting from artificial intelligence and facilitate an international collaboration focused on sharing research and best practices.

Will balanced budget requirements result in state innovation cuts?

Strict balanced budget requirements, tax or expenditure limits and party control of a state legislature and governorship can influence innovation funding when states respond to deficits. As states face new political landscapes and decision makers in their legislatures, the implications of a recent study on the topic emphasize the importance of keeping innovation on a state’s agenda.

Congressional elections may shake up federal science, innovation policy

Tuesday’s elections resulted in a Democratic majority in the House, but the changes for the next Congress go far beyond this outcome. Flipping party control means new chairs for every committee in the House; many Senate Republicans in leadership positions are reaching their party’s term limits, yielding new committee seniority; and, retirements and incumbent losses yield further changes. For the bipartisan issues of science and innovation, this shake up will produce new opportunities and uncertainties.

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