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5 Michigan regions apply for federal regional tech hub designation


The state of Michigan has submitted five applications for a federal competition that will designate regional tech hubs across the country.

The program is part of the CHIPS and Science ActCongress passed last year. That legislation aims to bring semi-conductor and other high-tech manufacturing supply chains back to the U.S.

Zachary Kolodin, Michigan’s chief infrastructure officer, said the idea is to find areas that already have certain strengths and make them into true global leaders in specific technologies, while fostering the kind of tech innovation that drives broader economic growth.

“They're talking about taking a region that is good at something and making it much better at that, and turning it into one of these global leaders,” Kolodin said.

Kolodin said that currently, Michigan’s top research universities already produce a lot of new innovations--but they often end up being commercialized elsewhere. “We want that to happen here in Michigan, and create jobs for Michiganders,” he said. “But without providing an ecosystem that supports feeding those businesses right here in Michigan, it could go somewhere else in the country.”

Kolodin said the federal government will designate 20 regional tech hubs across the country, with at least two or three in the Midwest. Those 20 hubs stand to get a collective $10 billion in funding over the next five years.

Michigan’s applications were submitted by regional consortiums, in consultation with the state. They include the Detroit-Ann Arbor Mobility Tech Hub, the Greater Grand Rapids Global Center for Battery Production Innovation, a Materials Advancement and Research Hub in the Lansing region, the Discover Blue Consortium focused on water technology in Northern Michigan; and Skylift, an initiative focused on “advanced air mobility” led by Western Michigan University.

Kolodin said he thinks Michigan has a real shot at landing a hub. “We have an incredible amount of innovation happening here in Michigan,” he said. “And I think the potential for Michigan to grow into a global leader in a new technology area is real.”

Tuesday was the deadline for tech hub applications. The CHIPS Act calls for the first round of funding to begin later this year.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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