Friday, December 1, 2023
A UW Entrance sign. UW News Service

UW Part of Two Tech Hub Projects Designated by Federal Government

UW News Service

The University of Wyoming is a participant in two of 31 projects across the nation selected by the U.S. Economic Development Administration under the Regional Technology and Innovation Hub Program.

The designated tech hubs are in regions across the country that show potential for rapid growth in key technology sectors. President Joe Biden announced the tech hub designations earlier this week.

One of the UW-involved projects is in collaboration with the University of Colorado and other public and private partners in the emerging field of quantum information science. The Elevate Quantum consortium seeks to transform quantum research into real-world applications in the marketplace. With a focus on developing a startup system and workforce, the proposal aims to establish the region as a leading hub for quantum technology.

The second project involving UW is the Intermountain-West Nuclear Energy Tech Hub in Idaho and Wyoming. Led by the Idaho Advanced Energy Consortium (INEC), the project will position Idaho and Wyoming as global leaders in small modular reactors and advance nuclear energy to build a cleaner energy future. The INEC Tech Hub will build on the region’s existing nuclear manufacturing and service sectors to capture an increasing share of the global small modular reactor market by developing collaboration hubs, incubators and test beds for nuclear startups and creating nuclear industry workforce development programs.

“At the University of Wyoming, we are honored to be part of two technology hubs designated by the Department of Commerce,” says Parag Chitnis, vice president for research and economic development. “Opportunity to collaborate with Colorado and Idaho in planning technology hubs for quantum computing and nuclear energy, respectively, will open new avenues for economic development in Wyoming.”

The designations are part of the first phase of the Regional Technology and Innovation Hub Program, authorized by the CHIPS and Science Act, that will invest directly in high-potential U.S. regions and aim to transform them into globally competitive innovation centers. Designation is an endorsement of the region’s strategy to supercharge its respective technological industry to create jobs and strengthen U.S. economic and national security. Designated tech hubs are now eligible to apply for the next phase of the program that will invest between $50 million-$75 million in each of five to 10 designated hubs.

“Participation in these tech hub projects is an example of the university’s commitment to prepare UW to be ready for opportunities from the CHIPS and Science Act so that we can be an even stronger engine for innovation to help drive the state’s economy,” UW President Ed Seidel says.

During the application process, U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., and senators in Montana and South Dakota fought to remove geographic barriers that would prevent Wyoming, and most rural areas, from participating in the program. They argued for removal of a requirement that the Economic Development Administration restrict the geography of a tech hub to a single Metropolitan Statistical Area.

“Wyoming continues to be at the forefront of U.S. innovation and is home to a diverse collection of cutting-edge technology,” Lummis says. “Geography shouldn’t be a determining factor in picking winners and losers, especially as we continue to grapple with the task of bridging the digital divide. Expanding the qualifications for the tech hubs program ensures rural communities enjoy the same economic opportunities and growth as their urban counterparts while sustaining America’s status as the world leader in technological advancement.”

The 31 tech hubs were selected from 198 applications from regional consortia that include industry, academia, state and local governments, economic development organizations, and labor and workforce partners. The tech hubs span regions across 32 states and Puerto Rico and represent a cross section of urban and rural regions.