ssti features

Off the bookshelves; preparing your reading list for the New Year

If reading more is on your list of New Year’s resolutions, SSTI has you covered as we bring you some thoughts from the staff on books we read in 2019. There are those we enjoyed and would recommend, as well as those you may want to skip. Also, feel free to drop us a line and let us know if you have any recommendations to share with us. Perhaps they’ll show up on our list next year!

SSTI Feature: Epicenter Memphis seeking big impact in regional innovation network

A note from the publisher (aka, Dan Berglund): Two of the most frequent questions SSTI staff is asked are: “What program, initiative, movement has piqued your interest?” and, “Who should we be watching and learning from?” While the answers are somewhat implied in what we cover in The Digest, host webinars on, and feature in conference content, look for occasional pieces in 2019 labeled “SSTI Feature” that offer a sampling of our answers to those questions.

Useful Stats: NIH SBIR/STTR Success Rates by State (2008-2017)

One of the best ways to measure the effectiveness of state programs intended to encourage the success of SBIR applications is the approval-rate of their submissions. Although this data has been historically unavailable across every federal agency, it is now accessible for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the second largest provider of SBIR/STTR awards, according to a 2018 Digest report. The NIH distributed $446.2 million in SBIR/STTR awards in 2017, with every state except North and South Dakota receiving an award. Although California and Massachusetts had the most successful SBIR/STTR applications in 2017, accounting for roughly one-third of the total when combined, neither state ranked among the top 10 in success rate. NIH SBIR/STTR applications in Oregon (29 percent success rate), Vermont (25 percent success rate), and Wisconsin (23 percent success rate) were the most likely to be approved over the ten-year period from 2008 to 2017. Each of these states, as well as many others with high success rates, offer assistance with proposals such as technical support programs and Phase 0 grants.

Off the bookshelves; some of what SSTI staff read in 2018

If catching up on your reading is a goal over the holidays or on your list of resolutions for next year, the staff at SSTI are sharing some of our favorite reads from the past year. Here we bring you our list of 2018 science, innovation, tech and entrepreneurship (adjacent) reads. Tell us what you think of the list — and what is on your list — by tweeting @ssti_org.

Commentary: Making the most of federal funds for regional innovation

At the end of this month, applications are due for two of the federal government’s most notable programs for funding clusters and regional innovation initiatives: the SBA’s Regional Innovation Clusters (RIC) program and the EDA’s Regional Innovation Strategies (RIS) program. As practitioners develop their proposals for these programs, it is worth considering potential lessons learned from the successes of previous awardees and the major challenges they have faced.

Commentary: The New Urban Crisis and inclusive technology-based economic development

Among this year’s most talked about books on economic development is Richard Florida’s The New Urban Crisis. This commentary provides a brief overview of Florida’s book, a response to his conclusions, and insight into what the crisis may mean for economic development practitioners more broadly. 

Alternative to VC: Capital Models to Achieve Economic Prosperity

In last week’s Digest article – Alternatives to VC: Reconsidering the Startup Financing Paradigm – SSTI examined the conventional venture capital (VC) model as well as its advantages and limitations. In this installment, we will highlight alternatives such as revenue-based financing, venture debt, crowdfunding and a new financing model for cleantech proposed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers. We also take a look at the potential that these alternatives have for the field of tech-based economic development.

Blockchain Tech: An Emerging Industry? (Part 2)

Last week, the basics of the blockchain platform as well as the potential that it presents as an emerging industry were presented in the Digest. In this week’s post, the use of blockchain platforms and applications for the fintech industry as well as other industries that could see disruption due the introduction of the blockchain are explored. In addition, several efforts to spur the development of blockchain technologies and associated applications made by industry, government, and nonprofit organizations will be highlighted.

Blockchain Tech: An Emerging Industry?

In a special feature this week, SSTI will examine a developing technology advancement that has been increasingly drawing public attention. This is the first of a two-part series examining blockchain and its implications for business and industry, with today’s story focusing on the technology, while next week will focus on its applications and challenges.

Economic Development Ballot Initiatives

While economic development issues have been taking a back seat to other discussions surrounding the presidential election, two state ballot initiatives address these issues directly and several other states feature educational initiatives. Engineering facilities at the University of Rhode Island and biomedical research in Montana would advance if ballot initiatives in those states pass on November 8. Both states are seeking passage of bond issues that would build facilities that would be used to expand or build facilities that benefit students or researchers in engineering and biomedical fields.


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