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31 Overlooked Places Selected to Receive Funding for Tech Hubs

The Biden administration announced on Monday that it had chosen 31 regions to potentially receive federal funding for innovation in areas that were previously overlooked by government investment. These regions will compete for a share of $500 million, with several projects receiving up to about $75 million each.

The program aims to establish tech hubs across the country in cutting-edge industries such as quantum computing, precision medicine, and clean energy. The goal is to distribute science and technology funding more evenly across the country, rather than concentrating it solely in Silicon Valley and coastal regions.

Proponents of the program believe that these investments can unlock untapped potential in terms of workers and economic resources, and contribute to both the American economy and its technological advancement.

However, there are concerns about whether sending funds to more remote areas, which face challenges such as a brain drain of young workers, is the most efficient use of government funding to promote technological progress.

The 31 finalists were chosen from nearly 400 applicants and include proposals for semiconductor manufacturing, autonomous systems for transportation and agriculture, biotechnology research, and the processing of critical minerals.

President Biden stated that these tech hubs will bring together various stakeholders, including private industry, educational institutions, state and local governments, tribes, and organized labor, to conduct transformative research. The program aims to invest in America and Americans across different regions and city sizes.

Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, co-creator of the tech hub program, highlighted how it contributed to bipartisan support for last year’s CHIPS and Science Act, which allocated funding for scientific research and semiconductor companies.

The tech hub program is seen as an experiment in industrial policy. Concentrating technology investments in a few key areas like Silicon Valley has proven successful, but it has also resulted in economic imbalances. The hope is that this program will unlock talent and innovation in regions where it has been underutilized.

The funding announcements for the tech hubs balance competing goals, such as whether to invest in as many regions as possible or concentrate spending in a few areas to drive radical economic improvement. The administration aims to maximize the impact of initial funding, given the financial constraints.

Supporters of the program hope that most of the funding will be focused on a select set of hubs in order to achieve maximum impact. The later rounds of funding will need to be shielded from politics as much as possible to ensure a fair process.

Madeleine Ngo contributed reporting.

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