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Hickenlooper, Fischer Introduce Bill to Create Innovation Hubs Through Land Grant Universities 

Aug 2, 2022

Bipartisan legislation would foster research, skills development, and entrepreneurship in communities across the nation

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators John Hickenlooper and Deb Fischer introduced the National Innovation and Modern Skills Training Act (NIMSTA), a bipartisan bill to create a competitive grant opportunity for land-grant universities to establish community programs that facilitate STEM research, workforce development, and entrepreneurship. Any land grant university nationwide would be eligible to apply for the funding, including Colorado State University (CSU) in Fort Collins.  

“Silicon Valley doesn’t have a monopoly on innovation. This program will spur entrepreneurship and advancement in communities across the nation,” said Hickenlooper.  

“Nebraska’s land grant universities are a great source of pride and a critical part of our higher-education system. This legislation will fund new innovation hubs at land grant universities across the country so the next generation of Americans have the research, entrepreneurship, and workforce development skills they need to thrive,” said Fischer. 

The legislation would give competitive grant funding to ten land-grant institutions as a pilot program to offer research, workforce development, and/or entrepreneurship programs in conjunction with the Cooperative Extension Program, a long-standing hub of activity anchored at land-grant institutions and run by the USDA. There is at least one land-grant institution in every state and territory of the United States. The pilot program will focus on areas of national importance, and the grant funding selection will take into account regional and geographic diversity.  

Successful innovation programs would be tailored to the needs of the community and the institutions’ areas of interest or expertise, in addition to working with private-sector partners, workforce development boards, and local leaders. Specifically, the different programs will focus on:

  • Research: Research should immerse participants in emerging STEM fields and technologies such as artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, quantum computer, advanced telecommunications, and more
  • Workforce Development: Middle and high-skilled jobs needed in our existing and evolving economy, with an emphasis on the unemployed and underemployed through rapid up-skilling, registered apprenticeships, and mentorship opportunities. Institutions should also offer flexible and alternative educational pathways to further workforce development. Participants should receive a measurable benefit or credential upon completion. 
  • Entrepreneurship: Creating an entrepreneurial environment, professional network, mentoring, and resources to develop Main Street small businesses to spur economic development in underrepresented communities and grow the nation’s next generation of entrepreneurs across the country.

A one-page summary of the bill, including eligibility requirements, is available HERE. Bill text is available HERE.


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