Today, the White House announced 10 U.S. regions that are emerging as innovation ecosystems and receiving over $530 million of investment catalyzed by the U.S. National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Regional Innovation Engines program. The Biden-Harris Administration is awarding the 10 NSF Regional Innovation Engines $150 million ($15 million each) in federal investment, with over $365 million in matched contributions from non-federal partners. Over the next decade, these 10 NSF Regional Innovation Engines will be eligible to receive upwards of $2 billion, with a goal of stimulating economic growth across a range of sectors, including semiconductor manufacturing, clean energy, sustainable textiles, climate-resilient agriculture, regenerative medicine, and more. The NSF Regional Innovation Engines program was authorized by the bipartisan CHIPS and Science Act – signed into law by President Biden in August 2022 – and is part of the President’s Bidenomics agenda to grow the economy from the middle out and bottom up.
On Friday, First Lady Jill Biden and Director of the U.S. National Science Foundation Sethuraman Panchanathan visited Forsyth Technical Community College to announce two NSF Regional Innovation Engine awardees in North Carolina, focused on driving innovation in textile manufacturing and regenerative medicine.
The 10 NSF Regional Innovation Engines will build on regions’ scientific and technological strengths to build new industries and workforces, creating more possibilities for Americans to participate in the 21st-century economy without having to leave their communities. The NSF Regional Innovation Engines bring together private industry, venture capital, state and local governments, institutions of higher education including community colleges and technical schools, labor unions, Tribal communities and nonprofit organizations to transform their communities and regions over the next decade. This program is critical to the President’s economic vision of supporting regional economies, bringing communities together to tackle economic and science challenges, and bolstering industries of the future.
President Biden’s Investing in America agenda has leveraged public investment to catalyze private sector investment and job creation in key areas driving American competitiveness. Since President Biden took office, private companies have announced more than $640 billion in clean energy and manufacturing investments, including over $230 billion in semiconductor manufacturing, $150 billion in electric vehicle and battery manufacturing, $75 billion in clean energy manufacturing, and $20 billion in biomanufacturing; all of these sectors are represented by the NSF Regional Innovation Engines announced today. These investments will further position U.S. businesses and workers to outcompete the world in the economy of tomorrow and strengthen our national and economic security.
NSF Regional Innovation Engine Awardees:
- The Central Florida Semiconductor Innovation Engine will build a next-generation semiconductor technology innovation ecosystem and sharpen our nation’s competitive advantage in the emerging field of semiconductor advanced packaging, ensuring that America maintains reliable and secure access to the chips that underpin nearly every aspect of our economy.
- The Great Lakes Water Innovation Engine will develop smart water recovery systems to save water and make the region’s booming manufacturing industries more sustainable.
- The Louisiana Energy Transition Engine will advance technologies critical to the energy transition, including commercializing new approaches to use carbon dioxide and hydrogen as feedstock, advancing the use of carbon dioxide to produce biofuels or bioproducts, and creating sustainable manufacturing practices for the clean energy industry.
- The North Carolina Sustainable Textiles Innovation Engine will revolutionize the $90 billion textile industry by advancing technology in textiles and wearable tech to developing textiles that can be used in innovative ways for protection or in the medical field.
- The North Dakota Advanced Agriculture Technology Engine will reinvent the way we feed our nation, combining advanced crop data, genetic data, climate modeling and sensor technologies to adapt our food systems to the challenges and technology of the 21st Century.
- The Paso del Norte Defense and Aerospace Innovation Engine will bolster America’s competitiveness, national security, and space supply chains.
- The Piedmont Triad Regenerative Medicine Engine will tap the world’s largest regenerative medicine cluster to create and scale breakthrough clinical therapies.
- The Colorado–Wyoming Climate Resilience Engine will develop advanced, trustworthy, and scalable methods to monitor and predict methane emissions, soil carbon capture, wildfires, and more, advancing essential technology to help the world adapt to a changing climate.
- The Southwest Sustainability Innovation Engine will deploy new solutions to extreme regional dryness and heat, enabling equitable water and energy access.
- The Upstate New York Energy Storage Engine will accelerate advanced energy storage technologies, unleashing the potential of U.S. battery manufacturers.
In addition to investing in the 10 NSF Regional Innovation Engines, NSF is also inviting 15 other teams to pursue NSF Regional Innovation Engine Development Awards – adding to the set of 44 such awards announced in May 2023 – to seed communities that will grow their region’s economies through research and partnership and compete for future rounds of the NSF Regional Innovation Engines program.
NSF’s Regional Innovation Engines program, comprising Engines and Development Awards, represents the full diversity – and potential – of America, selected from more than 120 applications spanning nearly every U.S. state and territory. The NSF Regional Innovation Engines will deliver the benefits and opportunities of scientific and technological innovation to communities across the country, with nearly all significantly benefitting small and rural areas and likewise directly supporting historically underserved communities, including states and territories that have traditionally received less investment from the federal government. President Biden believes the U.S. economy is more resilient if we ensure no community is left out or behind by Federal programs. NSF is further partnering with workforce organizations such as labor unions, helping to enable the creation of good-paying, union jobs in the communities where workers live.
Supporting NSF Regional Innovation Engines Through an All-of-Government Strategy
These groundbreaking investments represent one of the broadest and most significant investments in regional science and technology innovation capacity in our nation’s history, since Congress created the modern university system over 150 years ago with the Morrill Land-Grant Acts. To ensure these NSF Regional Innovation Engines have the tools they need to compete on a global scale, the Administration is bringing the full resources of the federal government to identify and provide funding, technical assistance, and planning for the NSF Regional Innovation Engines program, including:
- The U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) will partner with NSF to facilitate interactions between the two agencies and their investments in place-based innovation. EDA and NSF will closely align and coordinate benefits and resources if a region has received both an NSF Engine award and a Tech Hubs designation, including regular coordination between EDA and NSF teams to ensure that these investments are catalytic and not duplicative.
- The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) will partner with the NSF Regional Innovation Engines program to advance shared Good Jobs Principles and develop equitable workforce development pathways for talent in NSF Engines communities. NSF and DOL will promote job quality, worker empowerment, and equal employment opportunity standards through Regional Innovation Engines to spur inclusive economic growth.
- The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), working with NSF’s Regional Innovation Engines, will enhance the impact of the Biden-Harris Administration’s historic climate legislation by undertaking a place-based approach to spurring innovation, helping build a 21st century workforce, and strengthening community engagement in collaboration with DOE-funded clean energy projects.
- The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will work with the NSF Regional Innovation Engines program to advance the best available technology and the latest, commercially viable innovations to achieve the nation’s drinking water and clean water goals – including increasing water efficiency and reuse, reducing energy consumption and emissions across the water sector, and ensuring that treatment technologies meet health benchmarks across a range of water quality challenges.
- The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will partner with the National Science Foundation (NSF) to ensure employment opportunities generated by the NSF Regional Innovation Engines program align with accessible and affordable housing goals and support strong, sustainable, inclusive communities. HUD will work with NSF to inform grant recipients about their market housing needs and challenges and offer examples of best practices that lower the cost and speed up the production of new housing, including through innovative housing technologies.
- The Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H), which funds transformative R&D to accelerate better health outcomes for everyone, commits to facilitating connections between NSF Regional Innovation Engines and our ARPANET-H nationwide health innovation network, which connects people, innovators, and institutions.
- The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Advanced Research Projects Agency-Infrastructure (ARPA-I) commits to supporting NSF Regional Innovation Engines in the transportation sector. ARPA-I support will include connecting teams to DOT technical experts, testbeds, and pilot deployments, as well as assisting with technology commercialization and deployment in partnership with public and private stakeholders across the transportation ecosystem.
- The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) will collaborate with the NSF Regional Innovation Engines program to support thriving local ecosystems with equitable opportunities for the aerospace industry. NASA support may include connecting teams with the agency’s technical experts and technologies and local NASA awardees and sharing knowledge around space and aeronautics.
- The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) will collaborate with the NSF Regional Innovation Engines program to support thriving local ecosystems with equitable opportunities for arts integration and practice. NEA support may include technical assistance on arts-based and culturally-relevant community engagement processes, advising the NSF Regional Innovation Engines teams on future funding opportunities, providing connection to local grantees, and sharing knowledge around innovation and the arts.
- The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) will partner with NSF to integrate humanities perspectives into the NSF Engine program. This collaboration encourages broader reflection across a wider range of academic disciplines, including history, ethics, and other relevant fields that complement the scientific development of new technology, and fosters innovation ecosystems across the U.S.
- The Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research (CBER) at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which is responsible for the regulation of cell and gene therapy products, commits to facilitating scientific and regulatory interactions with the agency, allowing sponsors to take advantage of the full breadth of available regulatory programs to advance product development.
- The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) will provide technical assistance for the Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) program to increase private investment in small businesses located in NSF Engine regions, convene SBIC funds with NSF Engine leaders, and facilitate connections for NSF Engines with the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) ecosystem.
- The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development State Offices and their State Directors will work with the U.S. National Science Foundation, including direct engagement with rural-focused awardees, to identify relevant USDA Rural Development programs and networks, such as Rural Partners Network Community Networks, that could help ensure rural communities can benefit from and engage with the NSF Engines awardees.
- The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Directed Energy Directorate will work with the NSF Regional Innovation Engines to identify any relevant materials, additive manufacturing and Directed Energy technology that could help strengthen the supply chains for technology, widen the talent pool for Directed Energy at a national level, and identify collaboration opportunities to strengthen industry-academia-government ties for advancing state-of-the-art strategies in Directed Energy Science and Technology.