- Cities now have the opportunity to be federally recognized as “tech hubs” — indicating their potential to become globally competitive innovation centers in the next decade — and access a total of $500 million in funding through an application process launched Friday by the U.S. Department of Commerce.
- During the Regional Technology and Innovation Hub Program’s first phase, the department will designate at least 20 tech hubs and award about $15 million in strategy development grants, with each recipient getting approximately $400,000 to $500,000. Applications are due Aug. 15.
- The program aims to boost national and economic security, strengthen U.S. supply chains and create good-paying jobs. It will focus on key technology areas, including artificial intelligence, battery and advanced nuclear technologies, biotechnology, robotics, cybersecurity and disaster prevention or mitigation.
Most tech jobs go to only a few U.S. cities, “but that doesn’t reflect our full potential,” Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said in a Friday Twitter video. She noted that tech hubs will mean people don’t have to leave their hometown to get a “great-paying tech job.”
The hubs will be areas with a concentration of assets, capital, research and development, labor market and infrastructure that is “strongly relevant to the Hub’s selected core technology area,” according to a U.S. Economic Development Administration fact sheet.
Only “consortia” are eligible to apply and must include one or more higher education institutions; state, local or Tribal governments or agencies; economic development organizations; labor or workforce training organizations; and industry in the relevant technology, innovation or manufacturing sectors.
The initiative aims to scatter the hubs across the nation, with at least three tech hubs designated in each of the Economic Development Administration’s six regions. At least a third of the hubs must significantly benefit a small and rural community, and at least two must benefit underserved communities in metropolitan areas.
“The Tech Hubs initiative will strengthen so much more than just tech industries: it will support and impact the people, workers, communities, and physical infrastructure that is essential to a Tech Hub region,” Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Alejandra Castillo said in a statement.
The Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration expects to launch a second phase in the fall, providing at least five tech hubs with implementation funding. Each recipient will receive approximately $50-75 million, with an average award of $65 million.
The Tech Hubs Program was authorized through the 2022 CHIPS and Science Act. The Economic Development Administration may invest in more hubs in the future, contingent on funding, according to a fact sheet.