The current US administration, along with the US Commerce Department, has recently designated 31 regions as “tech hubs,” chosen from a large pool of applicants. These hub areas are spread across the country, including territories like Puerto Rico. They have the potential to receive up to $500 million in funding, as outlined in the CHIPS and Science Act signed into law in 2022.
The objective of these hubs is to stimulate investment in technologies that are crucial for economic growth, national security, and job creation. The aim is to transform communities across the country into innovation centers that are vital for American competitiveness. The program also aims to diversify the nation’s tech interests, moving away from traditional hubs like Silicon Valley, Seattle, and Boston.
The focus of these hubs encompasses a wide range of areas, such as artificial intelligence, biotech, clean energy, semiconductors, and quantum computing. For instance, there is a hub in Washington state that is developing new materials for fuel-efficient aircraft, a Wisconsin program advancing personalized medicine, and a New York organization researching new battery technologies, among others. It’s noteworthy that many of these hubs are located in small or medium-sized cities to ensure that individuals have access to good job opportunities without having to relocate.
It’s important to mention that being designated as a hub does not guarantee federal funding. The Commerce Department will closely monitor each program throughout the next year, and funding will be allocated accordingly. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo mentioned that five to ten hubs may receive up to $75 million each. With 31 hub areas and a total funding amount of $500 million, not all locations may receive financial support.
Furthermore, the CHIPS and Science Act is a comprehensive piece of legislation that allocates over $280 billion to various sectors. The funding for these hubs represents only a fraction of the financial resources provided by the bill. The act includes provisions such as $52 billion in tax credits and funding for domestic chip production, $7 billion for clean hydrogen initiatives, and $1.5 billion to enhance US leadership in wireless technologies and their supply chains. The bill also sets aside $10 billion to invest in regional innovation and technology, aligning with the purpose of these tech hubs. It’s possible that additional funding may be allocated in the future.
The administration has requested an additional $4 billion from Congress to support further regional tech hubs. However, this would be part of the full-year budget, and it’s worth noting that the House currently lacks a speaker, with a potential government shutdown looming on the horizon.