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July 26, 2023 | Tom Ballard

Two federal agencies announce plans to coordinate efforts focused on regional innovation programs

The catalyst appears to be the "CHIPS and Science Act" that authorizes both the National Science Foundation and the Economic Development Administration to implement programs that enable regional technology development and economic and job growth.

File this announcement under the category of “it makes perfect sense.”

In an email distributed on July 26, two federal agencies — the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) and the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) — announced that they had signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to officially enable cross-agency coordination on regional innovation programs.

Both organizations share a mutual commitment to regional innovation and economic development in communities across the nation. The “CHIPS and Science Act” authorizes both agencies to implement programs to enable regional technology development and economic and job growth through the “NSF Regional Innovation Engines” (NSF Engines) and the “EDA Regional Technology and Innovation Hub” (Tech Hubs) programs.

As regular readers of know, the University of Tennessee, Knoxville is leading one of the 44 funded NSF Engines programs. It is titled Advancing Technology-Enabled Mobility Solutions-Tennessee (ATEMS-TN). Separately, Launch Tennessee just endorsed five proposals from the Volunteer State under the Tech Hubs program.

Collectively, the two programs — along with many of the agencies’ other investments, like EDA’s “Build Back Better Regional Challenge” awards — will accelerate technology advancement and commercialization, innovation and entrepreneurship, job creation and workforce training and more. Ultimately, these programs will contribute to regional economic growth and U.S. competitiveness in key technology areas.

The NSF-EDA MOU allows for the coordination of specific projects, programs, and facilities. The coordination may include research and education activities, facilities, centers, data infrastructure, and outreach. Ongoing areas of cooperation, as well as future areas of potential cooperation, could include:

  • Implementing pathways for sustained growth of regional innovation ecosystems;
  • Training and educating diverse technicians, researchers, practitioners, and entrepreneurs based on regional workforce needs; and
  • Forming trusted partnership networks across industry, academia, government, nonprofits, civil society, and communities of practice to foster scientific innovation and the exchange of proposals or personnel.

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