May 12 (UPI) — The Biden administration on Friday opened applications for grants to bolster tech development throughout the United States.
The Economic Development Administration, which is overseen by the Commerce Department, launched competition for funding for the development of Regional Technology and Innovation Hubs, or Tech Hubs, which aim to boost delivery of emerging technologies to the middle class.
“President Biden is so clear on one point, which is that everyone in America deserves a fair shot at economic opportunity, no matter where they live, and they shouldn’t have to move in order to get a good job,” said Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo. “Nobody should have to leave their family or support system or network to move to New York or San Francisco just to get a good job.”
The program is open to eligible business and government groups who apply before Aug. 15 to be designated as a Tech Hub which, like San Francisco’s Silicon Valley, is essentially a community of businesses focused on technological development.
The funds are provided through the CHIPS and Science Act, which was signed into law last year. In his 2024 budget request to Congress, Biden called for $4 billion to expand funding to industries of the future in an effort to establish the United States as the world leader in chip and semiconductor manufacturing.
Previously, Congress has approved $10 billion for the program through 2027, with the first $500 million investment distributed Friday.
The EDA will designate at least 20 Tech Hubs and award about $15 million in grants to accelerate the development of future Tech Hubs in phase one of the program.
As many as 10 of the 20 new hubs designated in the first phase will receive $50 million to $75 million each to break ground on construction projects in their regions during the second phase before the end of the year, the Commerce Department said.
The taxpayer dollars will be used to make select cities more attractive to tech industry executives and their employees with the goal of creating jobs and more robust opportunities across the nation.
To be eligible for the money, group applicants are required to partner with a college or university, state or local government, tech firm, development group, labor organization or workforce training group.
The Tech Hubs will serve to put the nation on the cutting edge of invention and innovation, with a particular focus on artificial intelligence, robotics, natural disaster prevention, biotechnology, cybersecurity, and energy efficiency.
During a call with reporters Thursday, Raimondo said 80% of U.S. venture capital was currently invested in the Northeast, and in the San Francisco Bay Area, and in Southern California, which was stifling the country’s true potential.
“America leads the world in technological innovation. But the sad reality is that our tech ecosystem is extremely concentrated,” she said. “There’s so much more potential for tech innovation all across the country. In the U.S. we have the best research institutions in the world. That’s indisputable. And frankly, many of them are in America’s heartland, far from the coast.”
Raimondo said the government’s investment in Tech Hubs would serve to shore up national security as semiconductor manufacturing comes back to the United States amid tensions with China over spying concerns.