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Resources available: SSTI webinar featuring federal funding opportunities to help regional innovation economies

On Tuesday, Feb. 1, SSTI’s new TBED Community of Practice hosted its first webinar as part of a multi-year effort to build capacity among Economic Development Administration (EDA) grantees to achieve greater impacts and strengthen the overall practice of technology-based economic development (TBED). Webinar participants learned about new funding sources and how they can support regional innovation economies.

Why larger firms produce higher value inventions

A working paper published in the National Bureau of Economic Research asked the question, “Do large firms produce more valuable inventions, and if so, why?” An excerpt of an analysis of the paper that appeared in the November 2022 issue of the NBER Digest follows with additional consideration from SSTI Vice President Mark Skinner on its implications for technology-based economic development.

SSTI receives EDA award to launch Tech-based Economic Development Community of Practice focused on EDA grantees

SSTI is pleased to announce a new project with the Economic Development Administration (EDA) to build a Community of Practice focused on EDA’s important technology-based economic development (TBED) investment priority area. This new partnership will help regions across the entire country become more resilient, more equitable, and more competitive in the global innovation-centered economy.

TBED-related projects benefit from congressional earmarks’ return

With the return of congressionally-directed spending — more commonly known as “earmarks” — for the FY 2022 budget, nearly 5,000 projects received more than $9.6 billion in such funding. The return of the earmarks followed a 10-year absence after the practice was banned in 2011. SSTI’s review of the spending data, which was collected by the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) from the congressional appropriations committees, showed that projects related to technology-based economic development (TBED) were included in the funding.

Maryland and Indiana see growth from TBED investments

With a 20-year history, the Maryland Technology Development Corporation (TEDCO) is reporting an economic impact in 2021 four times greater than what they experienced in 2013. A new independent study found that its six core programs have provided “significant value” to the state’s start-up community, supporting over 10,000 jobs and more than $2 billion in statewide economic activity as of 2021. Meanwhile, BioCrossroads, a non-profit based in Indianapolis, has reported growth in its life sciences initiatives over the past 15 years. BioCrossroads conducts market research and promotes business and technological innovation in life sciences across Indiana. Both TEDCO and BioCrossroads have utilized public capital to develop industry within their respective target states.

Recent donations reveal important roles served by foundations in TBED

Foundations, in almost all of their stripes, represent an underutilized but often willing partner to encourage regional innovation. Relationships may take time to nurture, but the resulting collaborations can be of critical importance for advancing your local TBED agenda. To spur your thinking, the six examples below from the past three weeks alone show the various ways foundations are stepping up to help support regional innovation and entrepreneurship. On the principal or endowment management side of a foundation, they can be and have been willing partners for seeding or co-investors in a local early stage equity capital fund.

Feeding opportunity

The emerging innovation-intensive sector of urban farming is seeing heightened interest by venture capitalists, investments are growing faster than the crops: $2.4 billion so far this year at last count by PitchBook. That reflects a year over year (YoY) investment growth rate of 214 percent.  The number of individual deals also is rising 14 percent YoY. The sector is expected by many market analysts to capture an increasing share of the nation’s food supply for a number of reasons. Most notably, the historic drought in the western half of the U.S. is likely to have significant impact on the region’s agricultural industry, which currently accounts for up to 70 percent of the region’s water use.  Additionally, consumption of fresh vegetables tracks closely to income inequality and access to full service grocery stores and farmers’ markets, resulting in “food deserts” for many lower income neighborhoods. Thirdly, an ever increasing share of the world’s population is living in urban areas.

First antiviral pill for COVID-19 developed through Emory University’s approach to bringing solutions to market

The news that a drug has been developed that appears to significantly reduce the risk of hospitalization or death from COVID-19, understandably garnered international attention. While most of the coverage centered on Merck, dig a bit deeper and one learns that Emory University researchers developed molnupiravir which Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics have licensed. For the TBED community, there is another interesting angle to the story if one goes even further: this work was a result of a non-profit that Emory had set up, Drug Innovation Ventures at Emory (DRIVE), to help bridge the gap between scientific discovery to helping patients.

$36.5 million awarded to 50 recipients for Build to Scale program

The U.S. Economic Development Administration today announced the 50 organizations that will share in grants totaling $36.5 million to support programs that fuel innovation and tech-based economic development as part of the Build to Scale program. The 2021 awardees will leverage an additional $40 million in matching funds from a variety of private and public sector sources. SSTI has been a proponent of the Build to Scale program, which had not received any federal appropriations prior to the creation of SSTI’s Innovation Advocacy Council.

Building blocks of regional innovation economies explored; SSTI gives testimony in support of national effort

Outlining the need for a new national effort to build regional innovation economies, a panel of experts gave testimony to the Research and Technology subcommittee of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, chaired by Rep. Haley Stevens (D-MI). The panel focused on how regions have developed their innovation economies and how those experiences could be replicated across the country with federal support. SSTI President and CEO Dan Berglund's testimony drew from SSTI members’ experience and his more than 35 years in the field to make the case that a robust federal response was required with a national strategy and federal funding to support state and local organizations as they develop regional innovation economies. The hearing comes as the U.S. Senate approved a regional technology hubs program, as part of the Endless Frontiers Act, which passed the Senate with bipartisan support this week (see related story).

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