The U.S. Commerce Department made a significant announcement on Monday, revealing the selection of 31 regional tech hubs from a pool of 370 applicants to receive federal funding of $500 million aimed at spurring innovation across a range of sectors.
This initiative is part of the Joe Biden administration’s strategy to diversify the technology landscape away from its conventional centers like Silicon Valley, Seattle, and Boston.
Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo emphasized the need to broaden the United States’ tech ecosystem, stating, “Those tech ecosystems are concentrated in just a few places around the country. They don’t reflect the full potential of our country… They don’t corner the market on great ideas.”
The program aligns with President Joe Biden’s vision of government involvement in funding pivotal sectors to attract greater private sector investments. Key areas of focus include electric vehicle battery production, semiconductors, and clean energy.
Lael Brainard, the White House National Economic Director, highlighted the significance of this regional tech program in making “smart public investments in critical technologies in every region of the country.” This approach intends to create a more balanced and diversified technological landscape across the United States.
Earlier this month, the Biden administration announced the allocation of $7 billion to establish seven “hydrogen hubs” across 16 states, a move designed to jump-start the burgeoning hydrogen industry, Reuters news report said.
The selected regional tech hubs are located in various areas, such as Montana, Wisconsin, upstate New York, Vermont, Nevada, Illinois, and Puerto Rico. They will primarily concentrate on sectors including semiconductors, clean energy, critical minerals, biotechnology, artificial intelligence, and quantum computing.
Secretary Gina Raimondo emphasized that the program aims to provide quality job opportunities without necessitating relocation, particularly in smaller cities.
Among the designated hubs, one in Washington state and Idaho will focus on developing innovative materials for more fuel-efficient next-generation aircraft. Simultaneously, an Oklahoma hub will work towards the commercialization of autonomous systems for applications in agriculture and pipeline inspections. In Wisconsin, a program is dedicated to advancing personalized medicine.
It’s essential to note that being designated as a regional tech hub does not guarantee federal funding. However, Gina Raimondo indicated that the administration plans to award approximately five to ten of the 31 tech hubs with up to $75 million each in the coming year.
This initiative is backed by a $500 million allocation approved by Congress in August 2022 as part of the “Chips and Science” law, which provides $52 billion to support U.S. semiconductor production and research, with the aim of enhancing competitiveness with China. President Biden has also requested an additional $4 billion from Congress to fund more regional tech hubs, although a full-year budget for the current fiscal year is yet to be approved by Congress.