$500M To Revolutionize Tech in Middle America

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The first phase of a federal program to potentially transform metro areas in middle America into hubs of technological innovation began Friday, with municipalities now able to apply for a piece of a $500 million investment.

The U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA), a bureau of the Department of Commerce, issued a notice of funding opportunity on May 12, officially launching its Tech Hubs program.

Tech Hubs aims to transform regions in middle America into major hubs for technologies ranging from AI to advanced materials science.

Using taxpayer funds, the program seeks to create tech ecosystems that will promote both economic and job growth in regions across the country.

During a call with reporters on May 11, Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo explained that the vast majority of the country’s venture capital is concentrated in Northeast and Southern California.

“There’s so much more potential for tech innovation all across the country,” Raimondo said, according to CNBC. “In the U.S. we have the best research institutions in the world. That’s indisputable. And frankly, many of them are in America’s heartland, far from the coast.”

“Nobody should have to leave their family or support system or network to move to New York or San Francisco just to get a good job,” Raimondo added.

Tech Hubs is part of the CHIPS and Science Act, a multibillion-dollar project that aims to develop the domestic semiconductor industry and foster scientific innovation while reducing reliance on foreign entities, as The Dallas Express reported.

The first phase of Tech Hubs began on May 12 and ends on August 15, after which time approximately 20 metropolitan areas will be selected to receive a $15 million award “to strengthen a region’s capacity to manufacture, commercialize, and deploy critical technologies,” according to the EDA.

Potential applicants for the Tech Hubs program can learn more through a webinar scheduled for May 18.

Some general requirements for participating regions include having a least one institution of higher education, tech or manufacturing group or firm, economic development organization, subdivision of local or state government, and labor organization in the consortium.

Having at least two firms from the core tech area — such as robotics, natural disaster prevention, biotechnology, or energy efficiency — in which the applicant’s consortium wishes to participate will be viewed as a strength in determining the award winners.

The second phase of Tech Hubs begins this fall when at least five of the regions selected in the first phase will be awarded an implementation grant of between $50 to $75 million, according to the EDA’s notice.

As The Dallas Express reported, a consortium of Texas cities recently pitched Pegasus Park, the life sciences campus located northwest of downtown Dallas, for a federal program that would turn it into a major biomedical research hub.

The program known as the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health was established last year by the Biden administration to make advances in the application of biotechnology to health with a budget of $2.5 billion.

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