With a $500 million investment, the US government hopes to transform metro areas in middle America into the next hotspots of tech innovation.

The Department of Commerce issued its first notice of financing opportunity, or NOFO, for the Regional Technology and Innovation Hub program, often known as Tech Hubs, on Friday. It starts the process for eligible organisations around the country to apply to become Tech Hubs. This designation allows countries to use the monies to make their regions more appealing places to live and work for entrepreneurs and technology.

“America is the world leader in technological innovation.” “However, the unfortunate reality is that our tech ecosystem is extremely concentrated,” Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo told reporters on a conference call Thursday, saying that 80% of venture capital money in the United States is invested in the San Francisco Bay Area, the Northeast, and Southern California. “There is so much more room for technological innovation across the country.” We have the top scientific institutions in the world in the United States. That is undeniable. And, to be honest, many of them are in the heart of America, far from the coast.”

The program was authorized by Congress for $10 billion between fiscal years 2023 and 2027, with $500 million available for distribution this year. A total of $15 million in planning grants will be made available to applicants designated as Tech Hubs under the current funding opportunity. According to a Department of Commerce official, the Department will aim to award five to ten designated Tech Hubs grants of $50 million to $75 million apiece later this year to help build out capacity in their region.

In next year’s budget, President Joe Biden sought $4 billion for Tech Hubs.

Eligible applicants are groups that include at least one entity from each of the following categories: a higher education institution, a division of local or state government, an industry or firm in a relevant technology or manufacturing field, an economic development group, and a labor organization or workforce training group.

According to the law, Tech Hubs must concentrate on a certain set of critical fields of technology, such as artificial intelligence, robotics, natural disaster avoidance, biotechnology, cybersecurity, energy efficiency, and others. According to the statute, the department must designate at least 20 Tech Hubs.

The objective is that the influx of funding will assist regions around the country in becoming critical hubs of innovation and creating more well-paying jobs across a broader swath of the country.

“President Biden is so clear on one point, which is that everyone in America deserves a fair shot at economic opportunity, no matter where they live, and they shouldn’t have to move in order to get a good job,” Raimondo added. “Nobody should have to leave their family, support system, or network to move to New York or San Francisco just to get a good job.”

Raimondo also described the program as a significant investment in American national security. She cited the country’s current efforts, spearheaded by the Chips and Science Act, to invest in domestic semiconductor production, which became an urgent bipartisan priority after the pandemic revealed how precarious the computer chip supply chain was. This is because most modern semiconductors are not manufactured in the United States, and the industry’s reliance on chips manufactured in Taiwan makes the supply chain especially susceptible, given China’s concerns.

According to Raimondo, the United States “has ceded our leadership in manufacturing and innovation for this critical technology.” And now we have the onerous task of catching up.”

“The Tech Hubs program is about ensuring that doesn’t happen again, about staying ahead of the curve on other critical technologies, from quantum to artificial intelligence to biotech,” she explained.


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