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Breaking Down Silos to Foster Innovation

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Regional Innovation Strategies Map

Communities understand what their needs are better than any outside organization. They understand that in order to affect real change, they need to work collaboratively with businesses, non-profits, and other government agencies. The Obama administration has been utilizing public-private partnerships in numerous initiatives, as well as promoting interagency groups and supporting collaboration across agencies. EDA is one of the agencies leading this charge, and, since fiscal year 2010, has invested in 65 collaborative investments throughout the country.

EDA has teamed with ARC, the Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development, and the Delta Region Authority on the Rural Jobs and Accelerator Challenge, which has resulted in $9 million in coordinated investments to support 13 partnership and innovation clusters across rural America. Today, the winners of the competition are providing entrepreneurs and businesses with research and development support to foster innovation, build supply chains, and hire and train workers here in the United States.

In 2012, EDA led the Advanced Manufacturing Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge, a partnership among several federal agencies, to support initiatives that strengthen advanced manufacturing and accelerate innovation in technology at the local level. Challenge winners like AMP! – The Advanced Manufacturing & Prototype Center of East Tennessee – are creating a collaborative environment where manufacturers work together with economic development resources, workforce development organizations, and research institutions. Read more about AMP! in NIST’s Manufacturing Innovation Blog.

Last year, EDA led the Make it in America Challenge competition, a partnership of the Departments of Commerce and Labor, to encourage foreign and domestic businesses to build and/or expand their operations in the United States. The Make it in America project includes a broad range of regional and state partners. Clemson University, which was awarded $3.5 million as part of the challenge, is working to create a statewide workforce “Virtual Innovation Hub” that will use distance learning and provide technical assistance in innovation engineering. The funding will also finance an addition to and partial renovation of Freeman Hall to establish the Select S.C. Innovation Hub, a digital innovation center built on Clemson University’s campus and run by the Center for Workforce Development.

These projects all involve meaningful collaboration across agencies and state and local partners, both public and private, which is crucial for lasting innovation. EDA is proud of its role, and looks forward to continuing efforts to promote innovation, help create jobs and strengthen our economy.

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