policy

Federal innovation policy at the recess — what has moved in Congress and what may happen in the fall

The 116th Congress has already advanced policies to affect regional innovation economies, and much more is poised to happen once both chambers return in September. In addition to completing the FY 2019 budget (see our Feb. coverage), this session has seen Regional Innovation Strategies legislation pass the House and Senate (albeit in different bills); the Senate working toward an overhaul of the Small Business Administration; and, the start of the FY 2020 budget process.

Ten states selected for manufacturing-focused Policy Academy

Ten states from across the country have been selected as part of a unique program designed to grow and strengthen their manufacturers. Over the course of the next year, interdisciplinary state teams will meet together in Washington, D.C., and separately in their home states, to develop and refine strategies impacting manufacturing industries.

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.

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