A Word from Tim VanReken, Interim Executive Director and Regional Innovation Officer - Headwaters Tech Hub

It’s an exciting time for Montana, and for our tech sector especially. Last October, the Headwaters Tech Hub (HTH) was selected over some very tough competition to be designated as one of 31 Regional Technology and Innovation Hubs by the Economic Development Administration. The program was established through the landmark bipartisan 2022 CHIPS and Science legislation aimed at keeping the US at the leading edge of advanced technology development and manufacturing. The HTH will do exactly that – building on Montana’s existing strength in smart optical sensing technologies and expanding our capabilities into autonomous systems, national defense, precision agriculture, critical resource management, and more.

Read the full letter here.

A Letter from Grant Kier, President & CEO - Missoula Economic Partnership

The Headwaters Tech Hub (HTH) recognizes and seeks to extend our region’s leadership in photonic sensing, accelerate our ability to commercialize technologies at scale, and increase our ecosystem’s technology footprint into sectors vital to the national and economic security of the United States. The range of industry sectors already touched by this technology include autonomous vehicles, precision agriculture, natural resource management, infrastructure security, and more. Relative to Montana’s economy, there is almost unlimited potential for economic growth through this technology. There is also intentional effort from consortium members to ensure that growth within the HTH spurs economic growth far beyond.

Read the full letter here.

Biden-Harris Administration Designates 31 Tech Hubs Across America

As part of the President’s Investing in America agenda, the U.S. Department of Commerce identified regional centers primed for technological innovation and job creation.

The Montana Chamber of Commerce led the competitive Tech Hub effort on behalf of our members, Envision 2026 investors, and strategic partners. Together with the Montana Department of Commerce and Montana University System, we are pleased to announce that the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. Economic Development Administration have Designated the Headwaters Technology Hub as a rural Regional Technology and Innovation Hub, one of 31 total national designations along with a Strategic Planning Grant to apply for the Tech Hubs Phase 2. 

In Phase 2, EDA will award implementation grants to 5-10 Designated Tech Hubs, with each of those Hubs receiving approximately $40-$70 million across approximately 3-8 projects. For more information about Phase 2, visit the updated Frequently Asked Questions page. To read the Phase 2 Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO), click here.

The key focus for the distributed Headwaters Tech Hub is to rapidly scale the commercialization and industry applications of smart photonic sensing systems that can be deployed in autonomous systems and applied to national security, resources, and disaster prevention applications.

We expect a profound impact that strengthens our national defense, secures our supply chains, economic competitiveness, and in our Headwaters region, manages our critical resources, spanning water, agriculture lands, and critical minerals, industrial equipment and processes, and our infrastructure.

Steering Committee Members:

Staff:  Tim VanReken, Interim Executive Director and Regional Innovation Officer

Lead for Industry
Todd O’Hair, Montana Chamber of Commerce

Lead for State Government
Mary Craigle, Montana Department of Commerce

Lead for Universities
– Clay Christian, Montana Office of Commissioner of Higher Education
– Joe Thiel, Committee Chair (Proxy)
– Jeff Batton, HomeStake Venture Partners
– Paul Gladen, AccelerateMT
– Chairman Gerald Gray, MT State Tribal Economic Development Commission
– Grant Kier, Missoula Economic Partnership
– Misty Kuhl, Montana Office of Indian Affairs
– Joe Shaw, Optical Technology Center, Montana State University
– Scott Whittenburg, University of Montana
– Jason Yager, Montana Photonics & Quantum Alliance

Press Releases:

Regional Technology and Innovation Hubs (Tech Hubs)

The Tech Hubs Program will invest directly in regions with the assets, resources, capacity, and potential to transform into globally competitive innovation centers in approximately 10 years, while catalyzing the creation of good jobs for American workers at all skill levels, equitably and inclusively.  

The Tech Hubs Program was enacted as part of the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022 (as the Regional Technology and Innovation Hubs program). The statute authorized $10 billion for the program over five years. As part of the FY 2023 Consolidated Appropriations Act, Congress appropriated EDA $500 million to launch the program. This program invests in U.S. regions that are focused on technologies within or across the key technology focus areas outlined in the statute.  

Click here for general information, facts sheet and media contacts representing the Headwaters Consortium

For Montana Chamber Members, Envision 2026 Investors and industry partners, please complete the form below to stay informed.

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