- The Department of Commerce opened applications on Friday for a grant program in which cities can apply to become technology hubs.
- The Regional Technology and Innovation Hubs (Tech Hubs) is meant to boost a city’s capacity in manufacturing and commercialization. Moreover, it would help cities deploy new technologies and build a more skilled and diverse workforce.
- The new program is authorized by the CHIPS and Science Act, a law that helps boost domestic manufacturing and funds research, development, science and technology. The FY 2023 Consolidated Appropriations Act appropriated the agency $500 million to launch the program.
The new program would also help strengthen economic opportunities outside of major cities and within communities that have been overlooked, Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo said in a release.
“We’re going to do that by supercharging our existing innovation foundations, bringing together our premier research institutions with world class companies to create good-paying jobs in these communities, and ensuring the technological advances that define the next century are made in communities across America,” Raimondo said in a statement.
During the 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.
To apply, each applicant will need to create a consortium, partnering with one or more of the following entities: higher education institutions; state, local or Tribal governments or agencies; economic development organizations; labor or workforce training organizations; and companies in the relevant technology, innovation or manufacturing sectors.
“It’s critically important to ensure that industries of the future start, grow, and remain in the U.S.,” Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Alejandra Castillo said in a statement. “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.”
The Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration expects to announce the tech hub designates and launch a second phase in the fall. The designated tech hubs — which will likely include regions that received a strategy development grant — will be invited to apply for phase two implementation funding, the agency told Manufacturing Dive in an email.
“EDA expects to award approximately $50-75 million ($65 million on average) to each Phase 2 Implementation Grant awardee,” a Commerce spokesperson said in the email.
This isn’t the only funding opportunity the Commerce Department has created under the CHIPS and Science Act. In February, the Commerce Department opened its first round of applications to incentivize semiconductor manufacturers to build sites in the U.S