Canada transitioning university-industry R&D support

University-based centers to support collaborative research with industry have been a mainstay of federal competitiveness policies for decades.  Government commitments of multiyear, multimillion dollar funding are thought to provide lab/institutional stability and industry confidence for engagement in longer-term joint research projects. Canada’s Networks of Centres of Excellence (NCE) program was established in 1989, and, on the eve of the program’s 30th anniversary, the Government of Canada has announced the program is to be replaced with a new initiative focused on smaller, individual research projects of potentially higher risk and greater timeliness.

Rhode Island announces $12 million for Innovation Campus projects

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo has announced the first three projects for the state’s Innovation Campus Program, an effort to support the commercialization of academic research in key industries such as cybersecurity, data analytics and agricultural technology. The centers, in partnership with the University of Rhode Island and located in Kingston and Providence, will receive a combined $12 million from the state. The funding stems from a $20 million innovation bond approved by the state’s voters in 2016.

How public policy supports advanced manufacturing

For those interested in how innovation, investment, programs, and policies can help make manufacturing an economic boon to states and regions across the nation, a new special issue of the Economic Development Quarterly may offer some answers. Featuring original research and book reviews from experts around the country, Strengthening Manufacturing – How Research Can Inform Public Policy is an important read for scholars and practitioners of economic development. The introduction to the special issue, written by Ken Poole and Brendan Buff of the Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness (CREC), is available online at no cost. A future Digest story will highlight some of the articles featured in the issue and discuss what their findings mean for technology-based economic development more broadly.

Balancing STEM training and retraining needs

As the National Science Foundation announces awards for five new regional academic centers to encourage underrepresented populations to pursue and attain college degrees related to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), a recent working paper from two Harvard researchers finds an explanation for the popularly perceived persistent shortage of STEM workers: changes in technology.  The rapid pace of technological change is making the skills of the existing STEM workforce obsolete in much shorter time than previously, flattening their wages and reducing opportunity for advancement after seeing an initial high wage premium at the beginning of their careers. 

Pew survey reveals strong support for government investing in research

A new Pew Research Center survey shows strong support among Americans for government investments in medical research, engineering and technology, and basic scientific research, echoing previous reports from 2014 and 2009. That support crosses political parties, although liberal Democrats show a greater percentage of support (92 percent) compared to conservative Republicans (61 percent).

Recent Research: Could a lottery system for grant funding lead to better outcomes?

Last year, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) considered multiple strategies to address the implicit bias toward researchers with ‘proven track records’ during its existing grant making process. While previous research studies have found similar concerns about the current grant making process, two recent studies from the University of Cambridge propose that grant-making organizations consider implementing a lottery system to allocate grant awards to alleviate bias and improve outcomes.  

Useful Stats: R&D personnel by state and metro area

Across the nation, R&D at colleges and universities plays an important role in generating promising inventions, training our STEM talent pipeline, and supporting regional economic development. An SSTI analysis of National Science Foundation data finds that higher-education R&D (HERD) is a multi-billion dollar industry that directly employs nearly one million personnel on projects and grants in the United States. However, the locations of R&D projects and personnel differ greatly by state and region.

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. 

NSF commits $80 million to four ERCs

For 32 years, the Engineering Research Centers (ERC) program of the National Science Foundation has provided long-term funding for university-industry-government collaborations focused on addressing specific, complex engineering challenges. The program can be an integral part of a state’s strategy to encourage stronger partnerships among universities and private industry. On September 12, NSF announced $80 million in funding for four more multidisciplinary centers, bringing the total number of ERCs funded since 1985 to 74.


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