Advocacy Update

Commerce Funding Opportunities Open a Possibility for Tech Transfer

By Mike Waring
AUTM Advocacy Consultant
In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, Congress has provided billions of dollars to help the U.S.’s economy recovery.
One current funding opportunity is from the Department of Commerce, which has $3 billion to invest in American communities. A series of programs designed to help local cities and counties “build back better” is one of the largest economic development initiatives ever from the department.
The effort includes six specific programs with different Notices of Funding Opportunities. Specifically, those areas include:
  • Build Back Better Regional Challenge
  • Good Jobs Challenge
  • Economic Adjustment Assistance Challenge
  • Indigenous Communities Challenge
  • Travel, Tourism and Outdoor Recreation Grants
  • Statewide Planning, Research and Networks Grants
In particular, the Regional Challenge funds can be used to accelerate recovery and economic growth by developing new industries or expanding current ones, including “innovation and commercialization.”
In a recent conversation with AUTM, U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) officials emphasized that some of these programs are ripe for universities and research institutions to use. Regional Challenge program funds might help provide support for local innovation activities, including access to capital. Planning and Research grants may also offer opportunities for universities and others to help economic development planning activities. Other money will be focused on hardest-hit communities.
As part of many institutions’ economic development efforts, tech transfer offices may be able to piggyback onto applications for funds that their organizations may put forth. Check with your Vice President of Research or your federal relations officers to see if applications for such funding are being made. Applications should be submitted to EDA by October to be considered. To read more about the notices for funding, visit