The U.S. Commerce Department has unveiled its selection of 31 regional technology hubs, out of a pool of 370 applicants, marking these areas as eligible to receive $500 million in federal funding.
This substantial investment is intended to catalyze innovation across a diverse range of sectors, signaling the government’s commitment to fostering technological advancement beyond the traditional tech powerhouses like Silicon Valley, Seattle, and Boston.
Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo emphasized the need to diversify America’s tech landscape, 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.”
This initiative is aligned with President Joe Biden’s vision, in which the government plays a pivotal role in supporting key sectors, with the aim of attracting more private sector investments in industries such as electric vehicle battery production, semiconductors, and clean energy.
White House National Economic Director Lael Brainard described the regional tech program as a strategic move to make “smart public investments in critical technologies in every region of the country.” This initiative follows the recent announcement by the Biden administration of the allocation of $7 billion among seven “hydrogen hubs” across 16 states to kickstart this emerging industry.
The selected regional tech hubs span across a wide geographical range, including states such as Montana, Wisconsin, upstate New York, Vermont, Nevada, Illinois, and even Puerto Rico.
These hubs will focus on various areas of technology, encompassing semiconductors, clean energy, critical minerals, biotechnology, artificial intelligence, and quantum computing.
Importantly, many of these hubs are located in smaller cities, aligning with the goal of decentralizing economic opportunities.
Each regional tech hub has a distinct focus.
For instance, one in Washington state and Idaho will prioritize the development of new materials for more fuel-efficient next-generation aircraft, while an Oklahoma hub aims to commercialize autonomous systems, particularly in sectors like agriculture and pipeline inspections.
Meanwhile, a Wisconsin program is set to advance personalized medicine.
It’s worth noting that receiving hub designations does not guarantee federal funding.
The administration plans to allocate up to $75 million each to about five to ten of the 31 tech hubs in the coming year.
This initiative was made possible by Congress, which approved $500 million for the program in August 2022 as part of the “Chips and Science” law, a landmark legislation that allocated $52 billion for U.S. semiconductor production and research to enhance competitiveness against global rivals, especially China.
Additionally, President Biden has proposed an additional $4 billion for regional tech hubs, pending approval in the congressional budget for the current fiscal year.