The Biden administration and the US Commerce Department just named 31 regions as “tech hubs”, drawn from nearly 400 applicants. These hub areas are spread across the country, in addition to territories like Puerto Rico, and each spot could share in $500 million of funding as that was signed into law back in 2022.
The administration hopes to use these hubs to “catalyze investment in technologies critical to economic growth, national security and job creation” with an end goal of helping “communities across the country become centers of innovation critical to American competitiveness.” Additionally, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo told reporters that the program seeks to diversify the country’s tech interests, moving away from traditional hubs like Silicon Valley, Seattle and Boston,
To that end, these hubs will focus on everything under the sun, from artificial intelligence, biotech, clean energy, semiconductors, quantum computing and more. Examples include a hub in Washington state that’s developing new materials for next-gen fuel-efficient aircraft, a Wisconsin program seeking to make advancements in personalized medicine and a New York organization researching new battery technologies, among 28 others. It’s worth noting that many of these hubs are in small or medium-sized cities, with Raimondo saying that “people shouldn’t have to move to get a good job.”
There’s one caveat. Snagging one of these coveted hub designations doesn’t guarantee federal funding. The Commerce Department will follow each program throughout the next year, with funding to follow. Raimondo says that five to 10 hubs will receive up to $75 million. With 31 hub areas and just $500 million to disperse, that could leave many locations in the financial cold.
Additionally, the CHIPS and Science Act is a that drops more than $280 billion into various sectors, so these hubs represent less than 1/500th of the allocated funding set aside by the bill. There’s $52 billion in tax credits and funding for US chipmakers to expand domestic production, $7 billion and $1.5 billion to “boost US leadership in wireless technologies and their supply chains.” The bill also sets aside $10 billion to “invest in regional innovation and technology” which is the exact point of these hubs, so maybe more money is coming down the line.
Biden has asked Congress for an additional $4 billion to fund even more regional tech hubs, but, well, that would be part of the full-year budget and you may have noticed that the House still lacks a speaker with a government shutdown on the horizon.