Helena, MT – This June, the Montana Chamber of Commerce, Montana Department of Commerce, and the Montana University System are leading a consortium of business, education, and government leaders to North Dakota to strengthen relationships around growing regional technology expertise. The two states are coordinating as Montana pursues a Phase I Strategy Development grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce aimed at receiving a $50 to $75 million Phase II Tech Hub Implementation Grant. The proposed regional tech hub is focused on the advancement of photonic sensing technologies and autonomous systems as both states are global leaders in these two areas.
The Tech Hub push builds on recent success a consortium of research universities in Montana, Idaho, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming, have had in a related competition for National Science Foundation “Regional Innovation Engines”, landing three $1 million dollar planning awards to build research and innovation capacity in precision forestry, autonomous systems, and quantum information sciences. If successful after the planning stage, these new initiatives could also bring up to $480 million in new federal technology investment to the region over the coming decade.
MT Chamber President and CEO Todd O’Hair said he is excited to lead the delegation. “The Regional Tech Hub program provides a great opportunity to expand production into new technologies, create good-paying Montana jobs and lower our dependence on foreign suppliers. The hub program would be a significant investment in research and commercialization within the two states. This trip brings together experts from both states who will be critical in drafting a successful proposal.” The Montana delegation will spend two days touring research and industry sites in North Dakota and further developing partnerships between the two states.
The hub’s aim is to aid companies applying advanced sensors and unmanned and autonomous vehicles in key industries for the region, including forestry, agriculture, and construction. The Tech Hub funding would act as catalyst to increase the speed at which new technologies transition from lab to market. Phase I will create a road map for these
advanced technologies, which are critical to national and economic security, to be quickly deployed by companies in the region.
The Phase I application is due August 15, 2023, with the selection for Phase 2 sites decided this fall. Nationwide, only 5 to 10 Regional Technology Hubs are expected to be funded. Only those state proposals that are designated as Technology Hubs in Phase 1 will be permitted to apply to Phase 2. The program requires that one-third of the grant funding must go to eligible consortia that significantly benefit small and rural communities.
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