The Biden-Harris administration, through the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA), announced today the designation of the inaugural 31 Regional Technology and Innovation Hubs (Tech Hubs), which includes Nevada – led by the University of Nevada, Reno – from a competitive pool of nearly 400 applicants from across the United States and its territories.
The Tech Hubs Program, created as part of the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022, invests directly in high-potential U.S. regions to transform them into globally competitive innovation centers. A Tech Hubs designation is a strong endorsement of a region’s plans to supercharge a critical technology ecosystem and become a global leader over the next decade.
“These outstanding Tech Hubs Designees exemplify place-based economic development strategies at their best: combining federal resources with regional assets, expertise, and coalitions to implement transformational opportunities,” Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Alejandra Y. Castillo, said. “As each region develops its own strategy to catalyze innovation and job creation, the entire nation grows more secure and more competitive.”
The Nevada Lithium Batteries and Other EV Material Loop (“Loop Tech Hub”), led by the University of Nevada, Reno, aims to build a self-sustaining and globally competitive full lithium lifecycle ecosystem, spanning extraction, processing, manufacturing and recycling. This designation is one part of a highly coordinated, regional public-private push to transform Nevada’s economy to one that is inclusive, reliable and capable of meeting the needs of Nevadans and the nation.
“The University of Nevada, Reno takes great pride in our workforce development efforts that strengthen the economic bonds across public, private and non-profit sectors,” President of the University of Nevada, Reno Brian Sandoval said in a joint news release from Nevada Senators Jacky Rosen and Catherine Cortez Masto. “The U.S. Economic Development Administration's recognition of Nevada as a U.S. Regional Technology and Innovation Hub is not only a testament to our great state’s global leadership in advanced energy technology, it is a designation that will empower the University to secure federal funding allowing us to support a broad range of business creation, attraction, retention, and expansion strategies and workforce development activities designed to further build Nevada’s lithium batteries and other electric vehicle material loop.”
With a foundation of natural sources of raw materials essential to next-generation batteries, the Loop Tech Hub is working to align and coordinate its innovation and economic development activities with established companies, startups, education and workforce development organizations to enable this region to become a global leader in EV batteries. In doing so, this Tech Hub will make Nevada a strong node in a critical supply chain, making the battery economy more resilient and competitive and accelerating energy transition.
“The U.S. Economic Development Administration’s decision to designate Nevada as a Tech Hub is confirmation of what we already know – Nevada is a global leader in the research and development of advanced energy and industrial efficiency technology,” University of Nevada, Reno Principal Investigator Frederick Steinmann, director of the University Center for Economic Development, said. “This designation is required before applying for a future Tech Hub Phase 2 Grant, which will provide funding for implementation of programs designed to supercharge the technology and its commercialization.”
Today, the Department of Commerce launched a second Tech Hubs Phase 2 Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO), allowing these designated Tech Hubs to apply to receive between $40 million and $70 million each for implementation funding, totaling nearly $500 million.
The Loop Tech Hub’s key technology focus area of the Loop Tech Hub is advanced energy and industrial efficiency technologies, such as batteries (from vehicle to grid-scale applications) and consists of more than 50 consortium partners across industry, the public sector, private sector, and non-profit sector. Consortium members also include other NSHE institutions (Great Basin College, Truckee Meadows Community College and Western Nevada College).
“Nevada is home to world-leaders in EV battery development and recycling, as well as the nation’s only operating lithium mine, the largest lithium mine under production in North America and highly advanced research infrastructure,” Vice President for Research and Innovation at the University of Nevada, Reno, Mridul Gautam, said. “This co-location of raw resources, key talent and advanced R&D positions the state to be highly innovative. This Tech Hub Designation is a strong endorsement of this region’s plan to supercharge a critical technology ecosystem and become a global leader over the next decade.”
“The University of Nevada, Reno conducts cutting-edge research and runs nationally recognized education programs related to EV resource and technology,” Dick Bartholet, co-principal investigator, interim Regional Innovation Officer and research associate in the College of Business, said. “In collaboration with relevant industry, Nevada has well-established workforce development programs that educate, train and transition the next generation workforce to an economy of the future.”
Relatedly, the National Science Foundation announced 44 NSF Engines Development Awards in May to help regions plan for a future Regional Innovation Ecosystem (NSF Engine). The NSF Engines program is designed to support innovation in geographies that have not received the full benefits of technology advancement in past decades. In Nevada, a coalition with nearly two dozen partners spanning industry, non-profits, state government, and academia, with key minority-serving institutions, are leveraging this funding to create the early scaffolding to support innovation and advance the circular economy for lithium batteries, a critical resource for renewable energy.
"We congratulate the University of Nevada, Reno on this tremendous achievement," said Karsten Heise, Senior Director Strategic Programs & Innovation at the Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development. “After being selected for the NSF Engines Development Award for advancing the circular economy for lithium batteries a few months ago, this EDA Tech Hub Designation is a true testament to Nevada's current momentum in these critical technology areas. The EDA Tech Hub and NSF Engine reinforce each other and represent the greatest opportunities in a decade for Nevada to build genuine regional innovation ecosystems and, in the words of Secretary Raimondo, to become a world-class technology leader resulting in rapid economic growth spurring private investment and job creation. These new opportunities will lend substantial support to GOED's strategic objectives for turning electric and innovative Nevada into a reality."
The Phase 1 winners were selected from nearly 400 applications from regional consortia that include industry, academia, state and local governments, economic development organizations, and labor and workforce partners. As part of the Tech Hubs competition, each consortium outlined plans for strengthening its region’s capacity to manufacture, commercialize, and deploy critical technologies.