Regional Innovation Program, 64805-64812 [2016-22286]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 183 / Wednesday, September 21, 2016 / Proposed Rules (iii) Prior to issuing a notice of decision, EDA may request additional information from the affected lender or other parties and conduct any other investigation it deems appropriate. If EDA determines, in its sole discretion, to consider an untimely appeal, it must issue a notice of final decision pursuant to this paragraph (a)(3). (4) EDA’s notice of final agency decision where no appeal was filed or an untimely appeal was not considered. If EDA chooses not to consider an untimely appeal or if the affected lender fails to file a written appeal to a proposed enforcement action or an immediate suspension, and if EDA continues to believe that such proposed enforcement action or immediate suspension is appropriate, EDA must issue a written notice of final decision to the affected lender that EDA is undertaking one or more of the proposed enforcement actions against the lender or that an immediate suspension of the lender will continue. Such a notice of final decision need not state any grounds for the action other than to reference the lender’s failure to file a timely appeal, and represents the final agency decision. (5) Appeals. A lender may appeal the final agency decision only in the appropriate Federal District Court. Dated: August 30, 2016. Roy K.J. Williams, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development. [FR Doc. 2016–22284 Filed 9–20–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–24–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE Economic Development Administration 13 CFR Part 312 [Docket No.: 160615526–6526–01] RIN 0610–AA68 Regional Innovation Program Economic Development Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce. ACTION: Notice of proposed rulemaking; request for public comment. AGENCY: Through this notice of proposed rulemaking (‘‘NPRM’’), the Economic Development Administration (‘‘EDA’’ or ‘‘the Agency’’), U.S. Department of Commerce (‘‘DOC’’), proposes and requests comments on the Agency’s implementation of the Regional Innovation Program as authorized by section 27 of the Stevenson-Wydler Technology Lhorne on DSK30JT082PROD with PROPOSALS SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 13:24 Sep 20, 2016 Jkt 238001 Innovation Act of 1980, as amended (‘‘Stevenson-Wydler’’ or the ‘‘Act’’). Through the Regional Innovation Strategies Program (‘‘RIS Program’’), the centerpiece of the Regional Innovation Program, EDA currently awards grants for capacity-building programs that provide proof-of-concept and commercialization assistance to innovators and entrepreneurs and for operational support for organizations that provide essential early-stage funding to startup companies. This NPRM, for the first time, lays out the overarching regulatory framework for the Regional Innovation Program and specifically focuses on outlining the structure of the RIS Program. DATES: Written comments on this NPRM must be submitted by November 21, 2016. ADDRESSES: Comments on the NPRM may be submitted through any of the following methods: • Federal Rulemaking Portal: http:// www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments. EDA will accept anonymous comments (enter ‘‘N/A’’ in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous). • Email: regulations@eda.gov. Include ‘‘Comments on EDA’s Regional Innovation Program regulations’’ and Docket No. 160615526–6526–01 in the subject line of the message. • Fax: (202) 482–5671. Please indicate ‘‘Attention: Office of the Chief Counsel; Comments on EDA’s Regional Innovation Program regulations’’ and Docket No. 160615526–6526–01 on the cover page. • Mail: Economic Development Administration, Office of the Chief Counsel, U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue NW., Suite 72023, Washington, DC 20230. Please indicate ‘‘Comments on EDA’s Regional Innovation Program regulations’’ and Docket No. 160615526–6526–01 on the envelope. All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address, etc.), confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly accessible. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mara Quintero Campbell, Regional Counsel, Office of the Chief Counsel, Economic Development Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue NW., Suite 72023, Washington, DC 20230; telephone: (202) 482–9055. PO 00000 Frm 00021 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 64805 SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background on Regional Innovation Program History In recent years, concerns about America’s global competitiveness led to calls for the Federal Government to more actively foster innovation and better coordinate Federal support for scientific and technological research and development, technology transfer, and commercialization. In particular, without Federal support, local communities struggled to effectively support the development of regional innovation clusters (defined below), which research has shown to be a significant catalyst of economic development. At the same time, regional innovation was hampered by limited access to the capital necessary to implement the innovative manufacturing technologies required to compete in the twenty-first century global economy. In response to these concerns and with a desire to maintain America’s role as a leader in innovation, Congress enacted section 27 of Stevenson-Wydler (‘‘section 27’’ or ‘‘Regional Innovation Program’’) as part of the America Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education, and Science Reauthorization Act of 2010, Public Law 111–358 (Jan. 5, 2010) (‘‘COMPETES Act’’). As originally enacted by Congress, section 27 authorized the Secretary of Commerce (‘‘Secretary’’) to ‘‘establish a regional innovation program to encourage and support the development of regional innovation strategies, including regional innovation clusters and science and research parks.’’ In 2014, Congress enacted legislation that narrowed the scope of the Regional Innovation Program. See Public Law 113–235 (Dec. 16, 2014). This legislative change is discussed more fully below. The Regional Innovation Program now encompasses two complementary subprograms: the Regional Innovation Strategies Program (‘‘RIS Program’’) set forth in section 27(b) of the Act, and the Regional Innovation Research and Information Program (‘‘RIRI Program’’) set forth in section 27(c) of the Act. Given EDA’s leadership in and support of innovation and entrepreneurship as key elements of a robust economy, the Secretary turned to EDA to develop and implement the Regional Innovation Program. Established under the Public Works and Economic Development Act of 1965, as amended (42 U.S.C. 3121 et seq.) (‘‘PWEDA’’), EDA leads the Federal E:\FR\FM\21SEP1.SGM 21SEP1 64806 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 183 / Wednesday, September 21, 2016 / Proposed Rules Lhorne on DSK30JT082PROD with PROPOSALS economic development agenda by promoting innovation and competitiveness, preparing American regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy. EDA makes investments to facilitate job creation for U.S. workers, increase private-sector investment, promote American innovation, and accelerate long-term sustainable economic growth. EDA’s regulations, codified at 13 CFR parts 300 through 315, provide the framework through which the Agency administers its economic development assistance programs. Structure Through the RIS Program (section 27(b) of Stevenson-Wydler), the core of the Regional Innovation Program, EDA competitively awards grants to eligible applicants for activities related to the formation and development of regional innovation clusters. 15 U.S.C. 3722(b). Stevenson-Wydler defines a regional innovation cluster as ‘‘a geographically bounded network of similar, synergistic, or complementary entities that—(A) are engaged in or with a particular industry sector and its related sectors; (B) have active channels for business transactions and communication; (C) share specialized infrastructure, labor markets, and services; and (D) leverage the region’s unique competitive strengths to stimulate innovation and create jobs.’’ 15 U.S.C. 3722(f)(1). The RIRI Program (section 27(c) of Stevenson-Wydler) is designed to formulate and disseminate best practices for regional innovation strategies, provide technical assistance for the development and implementation of regional innovation strategies, support the development of metrics to evaluate regional innovation strategies, collect and publicize data on regional innovation cluster activity in the United States, and fund competitive research grants to support the goals of the RIRI Program. This NPRM focuses on the RIS Program because EDA has not yet implemented the RIRI Program. However, these proposed regulations— and, in particular, the definition sections—are structured to incorporate the RIRI Program into a future subpart C of part 312 of title 13 of the Code of Federal Regulations once EDA implements the RIRI Program. In addition to awarding grants under the RIS and RIRI Programs, EDA anticipates at a future date conducting COMPETES Act prize competitions that support the goals and objectives of the Regional Innovation Program. See 15 U.S.C. 3719. EDA’s economic development assistance programs under PWEDA and the RIS Program seek to increase VerDate Sep<11>2014 13:24 Sep 20, 2016 Jkt 238001 economic growth and resilience, enhance prosperity, and improve quality of life, but they approach the goal from different angles, as reflected in the enabling statutes and regulations. For example, the focus of PWEDA’s core programs is increasing employment and private investment in economically distressed regions. Funding generally is limited to regions that meet chronic high unemployment or low per capita income criteria, and grant rates increase with the level of economic distress up to a maximum of 100 percent in limited circumstances. Conversely, the RIS Program focuses on encouraging scientific and technological innovation and collaboration; it thus provides funding to a broader range of entities and does not require applicants to demonstrate economic distress. Moreover, it also is capped at a 50 percent grant rate. Implementation EDA publicly launched the RIS Program in September 2014 when it announced the first round of competitions for funding under the Program. The announcement of a Federal Funding Opportunity (‘‘FFO’’) identified three separate competitions for a total of $15 million in Federal funding: the i6 Challenge, Science and Research Park Development Grants, and Seed Fund Support (‘‘SFS’’) Grants (formerly known as Cluster Grants for Seed Capital Funds). The i6 Challenge, first launched in 2010 as part of the multi-agency Startup America Initiative, is designed to support the creation of programs for innovation and entrepreneurship—specifically, the development, creation, or expansion of proof-of-concept and commercialization programs that increase the development of innovations, ideas, intellectual property, and research into viable companies. Science and Research Park Development Grants supported feasibility and planning studies to create innovation hubs for driving the results of applied research and development to the commercial marketplace by supporting the entire product or process lifecycle from idea generation to business creation. SFS Grants support activities related to the feasibility, planning, formation, launch, or expansion of cluster-based seed capital funds to assist innovationbased startups with high growth potential. After considering more than 240 applications, in early 2015, EDA awarded 17 i6 Grants, 12 Science and Research Park Development Grants, and 9 SFS Grants to applicants throughout EDA’s six regions. PO 00000 Frm 00022 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 In 2014, Congress amended the Regional Innovation Program in section 705 of the Revitalize American Manufacturing and Innovation Act of 2014, Public Law 113–235 (Dec. 16, 2014) (‘‘RAMI’’). Under RAMI, Congress eliminated the provisions authorizing Science and Research Park Development Grants and Loan Guarantees for Science Park Infrastructure but did maintain eligibility for such parks to apply for RIS awards. Accordingly, when EDA announced a second round of RIS Program competitions in August 2015, it included $10 million in Federal funding for i6 Challenge Grants and SFS Grants, and no longer had a separate Science and Research Park Development Grant competition. In addition, consistent with changes made by Congress in RAMI to section 27(b)(7) of the Act, EDA implemented a targeted outreach program to ensure that public and private sector entities in rural communities were aware of the opportunity. After considering 168 applications for funding, EDA awarded 17 i6 Grants and 8 SFS Grants in early 2016. A third round of competitions for $15 million in funding for i6 Challenge Grants and SFS Grants was announced in April 2016. With EDA’s RIS funding, successful applicants have undertaken transformative projects such as the development of a hardware entrepreneurship ecosystem, expansion of a seed capital fund focused on commercializing water technology, and investigation of the feasibility of constructing a test track for connected and autonomous vehicles. Grant recipients are required to provide semiannual reports, using EDA-developed metrics that are consistent across grantees, that EDA uses to evaluate the impact of the RIS Program. Administration Administration and management of the Regional Innovation Program is an EDA-wide responsibility. The Regional Innovation Program (including the RIS Program) is broadly overseen by the Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (‘‘OIE’’), which was established by the Secretary pursuant to section 25(c) of the Act. Housed within EDA, OIE works to foster a more innovative U.S. economy focused on turning new ideas and inventions into products and technologies that spur job growth and competitiveness while promoting economic development through innovation and entrepreneurship. In addition, EDA’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Regional Affairs has served as the Grants Officer E:\FR\FM\21SEP1.SGM 21SEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 183 / Wednesday, September 21, 2016 / Proposed Rules for RIS Program awards, with day-to-day administration of these awards being handled by the Agency’s regional offices. Because of significant differences in EDA’s authority under PWEDA and Stevenson-Wydler, EDA is proposing regulations specific to the Regional Innovation Program. This NPRM focuses on the RIS Program, the only portion of the Regional Innovation Program currently being implemented in these proposed regulations. The basic regulatory framework proposed for this program is summarized below. Section-by-Section Analysis Section 312.1—Purpose and Scope of the Regional Innovation Program This section sets forth the general purpose of the Regional Innovation Program and provides a brief description of its two sub-programs (i.e., RIS and RIRI Programs). 15 U.S.C. 3722(b), (c). Section 312.1 also informs the public that the Secretary has delegated to EDA the authority to implement and administer the Regional Innovation Program. Section 312.2—General Definitions From Public Works and Economic Development Act Regulations Inapplicable to This Part This section establishes that the definitions of § 300.3 of chapter III are not applicable to the Regional Innovation Program. Section 300.3 defines terms related to EDA’s administration of grant programs authorized by PWEDA. The Regional Innovation Program was established by Stevenson-Wydler, with distinct programmatic and eligibility criteria. Therefore, EDA proposes to include an umbrella Regional Innovation Program definition section that applies to all of part 312 and a separate definition section that applies only to the RIS Program, as described in §§ 312.3 and 312.5 respectively, below. Lhorne on DSK30JT082PROD with PROPOSALS Section 312.3—General Definitions This section defines terms applicable to the Regional Innovation Program. The definitions are applicable to the RIS Program as well as the RIRI Program. Section 312.3 includes terms defined in the Act relevant to the Regional Innovation Program such as Eligible recipient, Federal agency, Federal laboratory, Regional innovation clusters, Secretary, and State. This section also includes terms that EDA has previously defined and regularly uses in all of its grant programs, such as In-kind contribution(s) and Recipient. Many of VerDate Sep<11>2014 13:24 Sep 20, 2016 Jkt 238001 these terms have been adopted almost verbatim from the PWEDA definitions at §§ 300.3 and 314.1 of chapter III; however, the terms FFO, Grant, Investment rate, Project, Real property, and Region have been slightly modified to reference Stevenson-Wydler as opposed to PWEDA, or to increase readability. EDA also proposes to adopt the commonly used definitions for the terms Equipment, Federal interest, and Nonprofit organization from the Federal Uniform Administrative Requirements and Cost Principles as set out in 2 CFR part 200 (‘‘Uniform Guidance’’). See 200 CFR 200.33, 200.41, and 200.70. In addition, EDA establishes new definitions for the terms Economic Development Organization, Publicprivate partnership, and Science or research park because they are Eligible recipients under the RIS program. See 15 U.S.C. 3722(b)(3). Finally, EDA also establishes new definitions for Regional Innovation Program, RIS Program, and RIRI Program. Section 312.4—Purpose and Scope of the Regional Innovation Strategies Program This section sets forth the general purpose and scope of the RIS Program as identified in section 27(b) of the Act. 15 U.S.C. 3722(b). Under the RIS Program, EDA will award competitive grants to eligible applicants that build public and private capacity to invent, improve, and commercialize new products and services with the goal of promoting economic growth in the United States. Section 312.5—Regional Innovation Strategies Program Definitions This section sets forth the definition of Institution of higher education (‘‘IHE’’), a term that has a meaning unique to the RIS Program. Under the Act, both for-profit and nonprofit IHEs are eligible recipients under the RIS Program. 15 U.S.C. 3722(b)(3)(D). See analysis of § 312.6, below. This means that the RIS Program cannot use the standard definition of IHE promulgated by the U.S. Department of Education (‘‘ED’’) in 20 U.S.C. 1001 and adopted in the Uniform Guidance at 2 CFR 200.55 because that definition includes conditions that the IHE be ‘‘public’’ or ‘‘nonprofit.’’ However, since the ED definition is the standard Governmentwide definition, EDA proposes to incorporate as much of the ED definition as possible while omitting language related to ‘‘public’’ or ‘‘nonprofit’’ that conflicts with section 27(b) of the Act. Thus, in EDA’s definition of IHE in § 312.5, EDA has PO 00000 Frm 00023 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 64807 duplicated 20 U.S.C. 1001 but with the following deletions: (1) paragraph (4) of 20 U.S.C. 1001(a) that requires an IHE to be ‘‘a public or other nonprofit institution’’; (2) a cross-reference to paragraph (4) of 20 U.S.C. 1001(a) that appeared in 20 U.S.C. 1001(b)(1); and (3) the reference in 20 U.S.C. 1001(b)(2) to ‘‘public or nonprofit private’’. Section 312.6—Eligible Recipients This section identifies those entities eligible to apply for and potentially receive funding under the RIS Program. The list is derived from the definition of ‘‘Eligible recipient’’ in section 27(b)(3) with one proposed clarification. Paragraph (D) of section 27(b)(3) of the Act lists and groups together several types of entities. 15 U.S.C. 3722(b)(3)(D). EDA proposes to separate nonprofit organizations from the other entities to provide needed clarity. Section 27(b)(3)(D)(i) permits grants to for-profit as well as nonprofit institutions of higher education, publicprivate partnerships, science or research parks, Federal laboratories, and economic development organizations or similar entities. Congress established ‘‘nonprofit organizations’’ as a separate type of entity eligible for an RIS award and did not include the term ‘‘nonprofit’’ as a modifier on the other types of entities that are eligible recipients. Grouping together all of these various types of entities could lead to confusion that ‘‘nonprofit’’ applies to institutions of higher education, public-private partnerships, science or research parks, federal laboratories, and economic development organizations or similar entities, when it does not. Both nonprofit organizations and the other entities listed in section 27(b)(3)(D) must still meet the additional eligibility requirement in section 27(b)(3)(D)(ii) of demonstrating that a State or a political subdivision of a State supports the application. Consistent with section 27(b), individuals are not eligible recipients. Section 312.7—Eligible Project Activities This section identifies the project activities that are eligible for potential funding under the RIS Program. The list is derived from section 27(b)(2) with proposed modifications to include three additional eligible activities and four activities that EDA proposes should be ineligible. 15 U.S.C. 3722(b)(2). The list of eligible activities provided by Congress is non-exhaustive because section 27(b)(2) expressly allows discretion for the Secretary to determine appropriate RIS Program activities. EDA E:\FR\FM\21SEP1.SGM 21SEP1 Lhorne on DSK30JT082PROD with PROPOSALS 64808 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 183 / Wednesday, September 21, 2016 / Proposed Rules therefore has added a catchall to the end of the list of eligible activities that provides ‘‘(11) Any other activity determined appropriate by the Assistant Secretary.’’ To that list, EDA also proposes to add two further activities, ‘‘(9) Purchase of equipment, but only to the extent that such equipment is used to support another eligible activity as described in this section (the recipient may be required to secure and record the Federal interest in the equipment)’’ and ‘‘(10) Modifications or renovations of a facility that are necessary to install equipment.’’ With respect to (9) above, at times new innovations require the use of technologies, such as a threedimensional printer, not readily available to an applicant. As such, EDA proposes to permit the purchase of equipment in limited circumstances. However, because EDA does not believe Congress intended for the RIS Program to primarily fund equipment, EDA proposes to confine the purchase of equipment to only those purchases that are otherwise used to support another eligible project activity described in § 312.7. To protect the Federal interest in such equipment, EDA may require eligible recipients that purchase equipment to provide EDA with a security interest in the equipment that is perfected and placed of record consistent with applicable law (for example, through the execution of a Uniform Commercial Code Financing Statement (UCC–1) or other statement acceptable in form and substance to EDA). As a natural extension of including the purchase of equipment as an eligible project activity in § 312.7(a)(9), there are situations when installing the equipment may require some minor modifications or renovations to a facility and this proposed rule makes those activities eligible as well in § 312.7(a)(10). On the other hand, EDA proposes to make expenses related to construction (other than minor modifications or renovations of a facility needed to install equipment) and acquisition or improvement of real property ineligible activities. While EDA acknowledges that at times constructing a new facility and/ or purchasing real property may support the development of regional innovation clusters, EDA does not believe those specific activities are within the core purposes of the RIS Program as defined by Congress. It is clear that Congress’s intent for the RIS Program is to promote actual innovation, not the facilities or places where such activities may take place. There are other grant programs throughout the Federal Government that VerDate Sep<11>2014 13:24 Sep 20, 2016 Jkt 238001 fund these activities (e.g., PWEDA). Further, as a practical matter, the costs associated with construction and real property acquisition or improvements are more substantial than the other types of eligible activities identified in § 312.7 and consequently, permitting such activities would diminish EDA’s ability to award as many grants as possible with its limited appropriations. EDA also proposes to make ineligible the use of RIS Program or matching share funds for equity investments. RIS Program awards have supported the creation of mechanisms for attracting, gathering, and deploying investment capital within regional innovation clusters that fill regional gaps in funding for early-stage companies, but RIS Program funds cannot be used to make those investments themselves. Further, there are other grant programs throughout the Federal Government that fund these activities such as the Small Business Administration’s Small Business Investment Company program. Finally, EDA proposes that lending programs such as providing direct loans or capitalizing a revolving loan fund be ineligible. Providing loans, or permitting grant funds to support lending programs, requires specific Congressional authorization that is not provided in section 27 of the Act. Section 312.8—Investment Rates This section identifies that the maximum grant rate permitted under section 27(b)(6) of the Act is 50 percent and states that there is no minimum grant rate. 15 U.S.C. 3722(b)(6). The grant rate here represents the percentage of the total Project cost that can be funded with EDA funds. Section 312.9—Matching Share Requirements This section clarifies that an applicant’s matching share requirements may be met by either cash or in-kind contribution(s). Matching share is the difference between the amount of the EDA investment permitted by the Act (see § 312.8), and the total eligible costs of a proposed project. Consistent with EDA’s regulations for programs authorized by PWEDA at 13 CFR 301.5, this proposed rule requires an applicant to demonstrate, at the time of application, that matching share is committed to the project, will be available as needed, and is not or will not be conditioned in any way that would conflict with the requirements of the RIS Program. EDA expressly retains discretion to determine whether the matching share is adequately documented to ensure that awards comply with the statutorily- PO 00000 Frm 00024 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 established maximum investment rate. Applicants must comply with their own rules (as established in statutes, ordinances, bylaws, or the like) for appropriating or committing organizational funds; in many cases, these rules authorize the organization’s governing body (rather than an individual executive) to approve proposed expenditures of cash but permit executives to commit in-kind personnel time based on their authority to manage employees and their workload. Applicants should consult their governance documents for guidance. Section 312.10—Application Components This section sets forth the minimum information that applicants must provide to EDA to be considered for an RIS Program award, as outlined in section 27(b)(4)(B). 15 U.S.C. 3722(b)(4)(B). This includes information necessary for EDA to identify how the proposed activity will support an existing, or further develop an emerging, regional innovation cluster; how much outside support the cluster will receive; the methodology the applicant will use to get other entities to participate in and benefit from the cluster; the extent to which the cluster will stimulate innovation and positively affect the region’s economy; the capacity for applicants to access or contribute to a well-trained workforce; the ability of the recipient to attract additional funds; and the sustainability of the activity. To ensure that requirements remain current, EDA will specify application procedures and materials (such as required standard Federal forms) in each FFO for the RIS Program. Section 312.11—Application Evaluation and Selection Criteria This section provides notice that EDA will evaluate and select complete applications based on the priorities and requirements set forth in section 27(b), the evaluation criteria and funding priorities identified in the FFO announcement, available funds, competitiveness of the application, and compliance with any other applicable Federal statutes and regulations. EDA proposes this flexible structure to ensure that the agency complies with required statutory elements such as ‘‘special considerations’’ for certain applicants ‘‘from regions that contain communities negatively impacted by trade’’ or who agree ‘‘to collaborate with local workforce investment area boards’’ and at the same time follows Congressional directives outlined in EDA’s annual appropriation and E:\FR\FM\21SEP1.SGM 21SEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 183 / Wednesday, September 21, 2016 / Proposed Rules supports Administration priorities. 15 U.S.C. 3722(b)(4)(C), (b)(5); see, e.g., H.R. Rep. 114–130 at 7 (May 27, 2015). The section also sets forth that EDA will notify applicants as soon as practicable regarding whether their applications are selected for funding and provides notice that there is no appeal process for denied applications. Section 312.12—General Terms and Conditions for Investment Assistance This section expressly provides that most of the general terms and conditions found in part 302 of title 13 of the Code of Federal Regulations apply to the RIS Program. These terms and conditions either apply Governmentwide as mandated by statute or regulation, or are EDA-specific requirements and typically apply to all EDA grant programs, such as those authorized by PWEDA. EDA proposes to exclude those specific paragraphs of part 302 that are irrelevant to the RIS or RIRI Programs, or are unique to PWEDA. The excluded requirements are those related to ‘‘Procedures in disaster areas’’ (§ 302.2); ‘‘Project servicing for loans, loan guaranties and Investment Assistance’’ (§ 302.3); ‘‘Intergovernmental review of projects’’ (§ 302.9); and ‘‘Attorneys’ and consultants’ fees, employment of expediters, and post-employment restriction’’ (§ 302.10). Classification Prior notice and opportunity for public comment are not required for rules concerning public property, loans, grants, benefits, and contracts. 5 U.S.C. 553(a)(2). Because prior notice and an opportunity for public comment are not required pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553, or any other law, the analytical requirements of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.) are inapplicable. Therefore, a regulatory flexibility analysis has not been prepared. Executive Orders No. 12866 and 13563 This proposed rule was drafted in accordance with Executive Orders 12866 and 13563. It was reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget (‘‘OMB’’), which found that the proposed rule will be a ‘‘significant regulatory action’’ as defined by Executive Orders 12866 and 13563. Congressional Review Act This proposed rule is not major under the Congressional Review Act (5 U.S.C. 801 et seq.). Executive Order No. 13132 Executive Order 13132 requires agencies to develop an accountable process to ensure ‘‘meaningful and timely input by State and local officials in the development of regulatory policies that have federalism implications.’’ ‘‘Policies that have federalism implications’’ is defined in Executive Order 13132 to include regulations that have ‘‘substantial direct effects on the States, on the relationship between the national government and 64809 the States, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government.’’ It has been determined that this proposed rule does not contain policies that have federalism implications. Paperwork Reduction Act The Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.) (‘‘PRA’’) requires that a Federal agency consider the impact of paperwork and other information collection burdens imposed on the public and, under the provisions of PRA section 3507(d), obtain approval from OMB for each collection of information it conducts, sponsors, or requires through regulations. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no person is required to respond to, nor shall any person be subject to a penalty for failure to comply with, a collection of information subject to the PRA unless that collection displays a currently valid OMB Control Number. It has been determined that the PRA does not apply to the proposed rule because the rule does not collect any new information requiring OMB approval. The proposed rule will use the previously approved Standard Form 424 family of forms to collect information relevant to the grant applications. The following table provides a complete list of the collections of information (and corresponding OMB Control Numbers) set forth in this proposed rule. These collections of information are necessary for the proper performance and functions of EDA. Part or section of this proposed rule Nature of request Form/title/OMB control no. 312.10 ............................................. All Eligible Applicants must submit required application materials using the Standard Form 424 family of forms. SF–424 (4040–0004), SF–424A (4040–0006), SF–424B (4040– 0007). List of Subjects in 13 CFR Part 312 Application requirements, Cluster grants, Financial assistance, Regional innovation, Regional innovation clusters, Regional Innovation Program, Regional Innovation Research and Information Program, Regional Innovation Strategies Program, Research. Lhorne on DSK30JT082PROD with PROPOSALS Regulatory Text For the reasons set forth in the preamble, EDA proposes to amend title 13, chapter III of the Code of Federal Regulations by adding part 312 to read as follows: VerDate Sep<11>2014 13:24 Sep 20, 2016 Jkt 238001 PART 312—REGIONAL INNOVATION PROGRAM Subpart A—General Provisions Sec. 312.1 Purpose and scope of the Regional Innovation Program. 312.2 General definitions from Public Works and Economic Development Act regulations inapplicable to this part. 312.3 General definitions. Subpart B—Regional Innovation Strategies Program 312.4 Purpose and scope of the Regional Innovation Strategies Program. 312.5 Regional Innovation Strategies Program definitions. 312.6 Eligible recipients. 312.7 Eligible project activities. 312.8 Investment rates. 312.9 Matching share requirements. PO 00000 Frm 00025 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 312.10 Application components. 312.11 Application evaluation and selection criteria. 312.12 General terms and conditions for investment assistance. Subpart C—Regional Innovation Research and Information Program 312.13 through 312.17 [Reserved] Authority: 15 U.S.C. 3701 et seq.; Department of Commerce Organization Order 10–4. Subpart A—General Provisions. § 312.1 Purpose and scope of the Regional Innovation Program. The purpose of the Regional Innovation Program is to encourage and support the development of regional innovation strategies. The Regional Innovation Program includes two sub- E:\FR\FM\21SEP1.SGM 21SEP1 64810 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 183 / Wednesday, September 21, 2016 / Proposed Rules programs. One is focused on the formation and development of regional innovation clusters and implemented through the Regional Innovation Strategies Program. 15 U.S.C. 3722(b). The second program is focused on best practices, metrics and the collection and dissemination of information related to regional innovation strategies, achieved through the Regional Innovation Research and Information Program. 15 U.S.C. 3722(c). The Secretary has delegated to the Economic Development Administration the authority to implement and administer the Regional Innovation Program. § 312.2 General definitions from Public Works and Economic Development Act regulations inapplicable to this part. The definitions contained in § 300.3 of this chapter do not apply to this part. Lhorne on DSK30JT082PROD with PROPOSALS § 312.3 General definitions. As used in this part, the following terms shall have the following meanings: Act or Stevenson-Wydler means the Stevenson-Wydler Technology Innovation Act of 1980, as amended (15 U.S.C. 3701 et seq.). Assistant Secretary means the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development within the Department. Department of Commerce, Department, or DOC means the U.S. Department of Commerce. Economic Development Organization means an organization whose primary purpose is to support the economic development of a community or region. EDA means the Economic Development Administration within the Department. Eligible applicant means an entity qualified to be an eligible recipient or its authorized representative. Eligible recipient means a recipient that meets the requirements of § 312.6. Equipment is defined at 2 CFR 200.33. Federal agency means any executive agency as defined in 5 U.S.C. 105, and the military departments as defined in 5 U.S.C. 102, as well as any agency of the legislative branch of the Federal Government. Federal funding opportunity or FFO means an announcement that EDA publishes during the fiscal year on a Federal Government grants platform or on EDA’s Internet Web site at http:// www.eda.gov, https://www.eda.gov/oie/, or any successor Web site, that provides the funding amounts, application and programmatic requirements, funding priorities, special circumstances, and other information concerning a specific competitive solicitation under EDA’s Regional Innovation Program. VerDate Sep<11>2014 13:24 Sep 20, 2016 Jkt 238001 Federal interest is defined at 2 CFR 200.41, in accordance with 2 CFR 200.316. Federal laboratory means any laboratory, any federally funded research and development center, or any center established under section 7 or section 9 of the Act that is owned, leased, or otherwise used by a Federal agency and funded by the Federal Government, whether operated by the government or by a contractor. Grant means the financial assistance award of EDA funds to an eligible recipient, under which the Eligible Recipient bears responsibility for meeting a purpose or carrying out an activity authorized under StevensonWydler. See 31 U.S.C. 6304. In-kind contribution(s) means noncash contributions, which may include contributions of space, Equipment, services, and assumptions of debt that are fairly evaluated by EDA and that satisfy applicable Federal Uniform Administrative Requirements and Cost Principles as set out in 2 CFR part 200. Indian tribe means an entity on the list of recognized tribes published pursuant to the Federally Recognized Indian Tribe List Act of 1994, as amended (Pub. L. 103–454) (25 U.S.C. 479a et seq.), and any Alaska Native village or Regional Corporation (as defined in or established under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (43 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.)). This term includes the governing body of an Indian tribe, nonprofit Indian corporation (restricted to Indians), Indian authority, or other nonprofit Indian tribal organization or entity; provided that the Indian tribal organization or entity is wholly owned by, and established for the benefit of, the Indian tribe or Alaska Native village. Investment or Investment assistance means a grant entered into by EDA and a recipient. Investment rate means, as set forth in § 312.8 of this part, the amount of the EDA investment in a particular project expressed as a percentage of the total project cost. Matching share or Local share means the non-EDA funds and any in-kind contribution(s) that are approved by EDA and provided by a recipient or third party as a condition of an investment. The matching share may include funds from another Federal agency only if authorized by a statute that allows such use, which may be determined by EDA’s reasonable interpretation of such authority. Nonprofit organization is defined at 2 CFR 200.70. Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship or OIE means the office established by 15 U.S.C. 3720. PO 00000 Frm 00026 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Project means the proposed or authorized activity (or activities), the purpose of which fulfills EDA’s mission and program requirements as set forth in the Act and this part, and which may be funded in whole or in part by EDA investment assistance. Public-private partnership means a relationship formalized by contractual agreement between a public agency and a private-sector entity that reasonably defines the terms of collaboration in the delivery and financing of a public project. Real property means any land, whether raw or improved, and includes structures, fixtures, appurtenances, and other permanent improvements, excluding moveable machinery and equipment. Recipient means an entity receiving EDA investment assistance, including any successor to the entity approved by EDA in writing. If investment assistance is awarded to more than one recipient under a single award, the recipients are referred to as ‘‘co-recipients’’ and, unless otherwise provided in the terms and conditions of the investment assistance, each co-recipient is jointly and severally liable for fulfilling the terms of the investment assistance. Region or Regional means an economic unit of human, natural, technological, capital, or other resources, defined geographically. Geographic areas comprising a region need not be contiguous or defined by political boundaries, but should constitute a cohesive area capable of undertaking self-sustained economic development. Regional innovation clusters or RICs means a geographically bounded network of similar, synergistic, or complementary entities that are engaged in or with a particular industry sector and its related sectors; have active channels for business transactions and communication; share specialized infrastructure, labor markets, and services; and leverage the region’s unique competitive strengths to stimulate innovation and create jobs. Regional Innovation Program means the program enacted by StevensonWydler at 15 U.S.C. 3722. Regional Innovation Research and Information Program or RIRI Program means the program authorized by 15 U.S.C. 3722(c). Regional Innovation Strategies Program or RIS Program means the cluster grant program authorized by 15 U.S.C. 3722(b). Science or research park means a property-based venture that has: Masterplanned property and buildings designed primarily for private-public E:\FR\FM\21SEP1.SGM 21SEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 183 / Wednesday, September 21, 2016 / Proposed Rules research and development activities, high technology and science-based companies, and research and development support services; a contractual or operational relationship with one or more science- or researchrelated institutions of higher education or governmental or nonprofit research laboratories; a primary mission to promote research and development through industry partnerships, assisting in the growth of new ventures and promoting innovation-driven economic development; a role in facilitating the transfer of technology and business skills between researchers and industry teams; and a role in promoting technology-led economic development for the community or region in which the park is located. Secretary means the Secretary of Commerce. State means a State of the United States, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, or any other territory or possession of the United States. United States means all of the States. Subpart B—Regional Innovation Strategies Program § 312.4 Purpose and scope of the Regional Innovation Strategies Program. Under the RIS Program, EDA makes grants on a competitive basis to eligible applicants to foster connected, innovation-centric economic regions that support commercialization and entrepreneurship. The grants are intended to build public and private capacity to invent and improve products and services and to bring those products and services to market through a process often referred to as technology commercialization, as demonstrated by methodologically sound metrics for output and outcome. Lhorne on DSK30JT082PROD with PROPOSALS § 312.5 Regional Innovation Strategies Program definitions. In addition to the defined terms set forth in subpart A, the following term applies specifically to the RIS Program: Institution of higher education means: (1) An educational institution in any State that— (i) Admits as regular students only persons having a certificate of graduation from a school providing secondary education, or the recognized equivalent of such a certificate, or persons who meet the requirements of 20 U.S.C. 1091(d); (ii) Is legally authorized within such State to provide a program of education beyond secondary education; VerDate Sep<11>2014 13:24 Sep 20, 2016 Jkt 238001 (iii) Provides an educational program for which the institution awards a bachelor’s degree or provides not less than a 2-year program that is acceptable for full credit toward such a degree, or awards a degree that is acceptable for admission to a graduate or professional degree program, subject to review and approval by the Secretary of Education; and (iv) Is accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting agency or association, or if not so accredited, is an institution that has been granted preaccreditation status by such an agency or association that has been recognized by the Secretary of Education for the granting of preaccreditation status, and the Secretary of Education has determined that there is satisfactory assurance that the institution will meet the accreditation standards of such an agency or association within a reasonable time. (2) Additional institutions included. For purposes of this subpart, the term Institution of higher education also includes— (i) Any school that provides not less than a 1-year program of training to prepare students for gainful employment in a recognized occupation and that meets the provisions of paragraphs (1)(i), (ii), and (iv) of this definition; and (ii) An educational institution in any State that, in lieu of the requirement in paragraph (1)(i) of this definition, admits as regular students individuals— (A) Who are beyond the age of compulsory school attendance in the State in which the institution is located; or (B) Who will be dually or concurrently enrolled in the institution and a secondary school. § 312.6 Eligible recipients. A recipient eligible for investment assistance includes: (a) A State; (b) An Indian tribe; (c) A city or other political subdivision of a State; (d) An entity that is a nonprofit organization and whose application for funding under the RIS Program is supported by a State or a political subdivision of a State; (e) An entity that is an institution of higher education, a public-private partnership, a science or research park, a Federal laboratory, or an economic development organization or similar entity, and whose application for funding under the RIS Program is supported by a State or a political subdivision of a State; or PO 00000 Frm 00027 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 64811 (f) A consortium of any of the entities described in paragraphs (a) through (e) of this section. § 312.7 Eligible project activities. (a) Activities eligible for a RIS Program grant include: (1) Feasibility studies; (2) Planning activities; (3) Technical assistance; (4) Developing or strengthening communication and collaboration between and among participants of a regional innovation cluster; (5) Attracting additional participants to a regional innovation cluster; (6) Facilitating market development of products and services of a regional innovation cluster, including through demonstration, deployment, technology transfer, and commercialization activities; (7) Developing relationships between a regional innovation cluster and entities or clusters in other regions; (8) Interacting with the public and State and local governments to meet the goals of the regional innovation cluster; (9) Purchase of equipment, but only to the extent that such equipment is used to support another eligible activity as described in this section (the recipient may be required to secure and record the Federal interest in the equipment); (10) Modifications or renovations of a facility that are necessary to install equipment; and (11) Any other activity determined appropriate by the Assistant Secretary. (b) An ineligible activity includes, but is not limited to: (1) Use of Federal funds or matching share for equity investments; (2) Acquisition or improvement of real property; (3) Construction except to the extent provided in paragraph (a)(10) of this section; and (4) Lending programs, such as a direct loan program or capitalizing a revolving loan fund. § 312.8 Investment rates. (a) Minimum investment rate. There is no minimum investment rate for a project. (b) Maximum investment rate. The maximum investment rate for a project shall not exceed 50 percent. § 312.9 Matching share requirements. The required matching share of a project’s eligible costs may consist of cash or in-kind contribution(s) whose value can be readily determined, verified, and justified. Applicants must show at the time of application that the matching share is committed to the project, will be available as needed, and E:\FR\FM\21SEP1.SGM 21SEP1 64812 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 183 / Wednesday, September 21, 2016 / Proposed Rules is not or will not be conditioned or encumbered in any way that would preclude its use consistent with the requirements of the investment assistance. EDA shall determine at its sole discretion whether the matching share documentation adequately addresses the requirements of this section. § 312.12 General terms and conditions for investment assistance. § 312.10 §§ 312.13 through 312.17 RIS Program grants are subject to all requirements contained in part 302 of this chapter, except §§ 302.2, 302.3, 302.9, and 302.10. Subpart C—Regional Innovation Research and Information Program Application components. In addition to the criteria set forth in the FFO, to be considered for a RIS Program grant, eligible applicants must provide the following information: (a) A description of the regional innovation cluster supported by the proposed activity; (b) The extent to which the regional innovation cluster is supported by the private sector, State and local units of government, and other relevant stakeholders; (c) The methods that participants in the regional innovation cluster will use to encourage and solicit participation by all types of entities that might benefit from participation, including newly formed entities and rival existing participants; (d) The extent to which the regional innovation cluster is likely to stimulate innovation and have a positive effect on regional economic growth and development; (e) The capacity of participants in the regional innovation cluster to access, or contribute to, a well-trained workforce; (f) The ability of participants in the regional innovation cluster to attract additional funds to support the cluster with non-Federal funds; and (g) The likelihood that participants in the regional innovation cluster will be able to sustain activities after the grant expires. Lhorne on DSK30JT082PROD with PROPOSALS § 312.11 Application evaluation and selection criteria. (a) EDA will evaluate and select complete applications in accordance with the evaluation criteria, funding priority considerations, availability of funding, competitiveness of the application, and requirements set forth in section 27(b) of Stevenson-Wydler, the FFO, and other applicable Federal statutes and regulations. All awards are subject to the availability of funds. (b) EDA will endeavor to notify applicants as soon as practicable regarding whether their applications are selected for funding. (c) Stevenson-Wydler does not require nor does EDA provide an appeal process for denial of applications for EDA investment assistance. VerDate Sep<11>2014 13:24 Sep 20, 2016 Jkt 238001 [Reserved] Dated: September 6, 2016. Roy K.J. Williams, Assistant Secretary for Economic Development. [FR Doc. 2016–22286 Filed 9–20–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–24–P SUSQUEHANNA RIVER BASIN COMMISSION 18 CFR Parts 806 and 808 Review and Approval of Projects Susquehanna River Basin Commission. ACTION: Notice of proposed rulemaking; notice of public hearings. AGENCY: This document contains proposed rules that would amend the regulations of the Susquehanna River Basin Commission (Commission) to clarify application requirements and standards for review of projects, amend the rules dealing with the mitigation of consumptive uses, add a subpart to provide for registration of grandfathered projects, and revise requirements dealing with hearings and enforcement actions. These rules are designed to enhance the Commission’s existing authorities to manage the water resources of the basin and add regulatory clarity. DATES: In addition, the Commission will be holding two informational webinars explaining the proposed rulemaking on October 11, 2016, and October 17, 2016. Instructions for registration for the webinars will be posted on the Commission’s Web site. Comments on the proposed rulemaking may be submitted to the Commission on or before January 30, 2017. The Commission has scheduled four public hearings on the proposed rulemaking: 1. November 3, 2016, 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. or at the conclusion of public testimony, whichever is sooner; Harrisburg, PA. 2. November 9, 2016, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. or at the conclusion of public testimony, whichever is sooner; Binghamton, NY. 3. November 10, 2016, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. or at the conclusion of public testimony, whichever is sooner; Williamsport, PA. SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00028 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 4. December 8, 2016, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. or at the conclusion of public testimony, whichever is sooner; Annapolis, MD. The locations of the public hearings are listed in the ADDRESSES section of this document. ADDRESSES: Comments may be mailed to: Jason E. Oyler, Esq., General Counsel, Susquehanna River Basin Commission, 4423 N. Front Street, Harrisburg, PA 17110–1788, or by email to regcomments@srbc.net. The public hearings locations are: 1. Harrisburg—Pennsylvania State Capitol (East Wing, Room 8E–B), Commonwealth Avenue, Harrisburg, PA 17120. 2. Binghamton—DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Binghamton (South Riverside Room), 225 Water Street, Binghamton, NY 13901. 3. Williamsport—Holiday Inn Williamsport (Gallery Room), 100 Pine Street, Williamsport, PA 17701. 4. Annapolis—Loews Annapolis Hotel (Powerhouse-Point Lookout), 126 West Street, Annapolis, MD 21401. Those wishing to testify are asked to notify the Commission in advance, if possible, at the regular or electronic addresses given below. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jason E. Oyler, Esq., General Counsel, telephone: 717–238–0423, ext. 1312; fax: 717–238–2436; email: joyler@ srbc.net. Also, for further information on the proposed rulemaking, visit the Commission’s Web site at http:// www.srbc.net. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Commission’s regulations have not undergone a thorough review since the last comprehensive rulemaking in 2006. Many of these regulations remain unchanged. However, since initial implementation, the Commission recognizes the need for clarity in some sections and statement of procedure in others. These changes are designed to bring clarity and certainty to the regulated community. This rulemaking reflects the efforts of a comprehensive internal review by the Commission staff and review by the Commission’s member jurisdictions. The rulemaking centers on a few key areas of the regulations: Project review, consumptive use mitigation, registration of grandfathered projects, and administrative procedures. The Commission proposed this rulemaking to clarify application requirements and standards for review of projects, amend the rules dealing with the mitigation of consumptive uses, add a subpart to provide for registration of grandfathered projects, and revise requirements dealing with hearings and enforcement E:\FR\FM\21SEP1.SGM 21SEP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 183 (Wednesday, September 21, 2016)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 64805-64812]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-22286]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

Economic Development Administration

13 CFR Part 312

[Docket No.: 160615526-6526-01]
RIN 0610-AA68


Regional Innovation Program

AGENCY: Economic Development Administration, U.S. Department of 
Commerce.

ACTION: Notice of proposed rulemaking; request for public comment.

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SUMMARY: Through this notice of proposed rulemaking (``NPRM''), the 
Economic Development Administration (``EDA'' or ``the Agency''), U.S. 
Department of Commerce (``DOC''), proposes and requests comments on the 
Agency's implementation of the Regional Innovation Program as 
authorized by section 27 of the Stevenson-Wydler Technology Innovation 
Act of 1980, as amended (``Stevenson-Wydler'' or the ``Act''). Through 
the Regional Innovation Strategies Program (``RIS Program''), the 
centerpiece of the Regional Innovation Program, EDA currently awards 
grants for capacity-building programs that provide proof-of-concept and 
commercialization assistance to innovators and entrepreneurs and for 
operational support for organizations that provide essential early-
stage funding to startup companies. This NPRM, for the first time, lays 
out the overarching regulatory framework for the Regional Innovation 
Program and specifically focuses on outlining the structure of the RIS 
Program.

DATES: Written comments on this NPRM must be submitted by November 21, 
2016.

ADDRESSES: Comments on the NPRM may be submitted through any of the 
following methods:
     Federal Rulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. 
Follow the instructions for submitting comments. EDA will accept 
anonymous comments (enter ``N/A'' in the required fields if you wish to 
remain anonymous).
     Email: regulations@eda.gov. Include ``Comments on EDA's 
Regional Innovation Program regulations'' and Docket No. 160615526-
6526-01 in the subject line of the message.
     Fax: (202) 482-5671. Please indicate ``Attention: Office 
of the Chief Counsel; Comments on EDA's Regional Innovation Program 
regulations'' and Docket No. 160615526-6526-01 on the cover page.
     Mail: Economic Development Administration, Office of the 
Chief Counsel, U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue 
NW., Suite 72023, Washington, DC 20230. Please indicate ``Comments on 
EDA's Regional Innovation Program regulations'' and Docket No. 
160615526-6526-01 on the envelope.
    All comments received are a part of the public record and will 
generally be posted for public viewing on www.regulations.gov without 
change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address, 
etc.), confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive 
information submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly 
accessible.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mara Quintero Campbell, Regional 
Counsel, Office of the Chief Counsel, Economic Development 
Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue 
NW., Suite 72023, Washington, DC 20230; telephone: (202) 482-9055.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Background on Regional Innovation Program

History

    In recent years, concerns about America's global competitiveness 
led to calls for the Federal Government to more actively foster 
innovation and better coordinate Federal support for scientific and 
technological research and development, technology transfer, and 
commercialization. In particular, without Federal support, local 
communities struggled to effectively support the development of 
regional innovation clusters (defined below), which research has shown 
to be a significant catalyst of economic development. At the same time, 
regional innovation was hampered by limited access to the capital 
necessary to implement the innovative manufacturing technologies 
required to compete in the twenty-first century global economy.
    In response to these concerns and with a desire to maintain 
America's role as a leader in innovation, Congress enacted section 27 
of Stevenson-Wydler (``section 27'' or ``Regional Innovation Program'') 
as part of the America Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote 
Excellence in Technology, Education, and Science Reauthorization Act of 
2010, Public Law 111-358 (Jan. 5, 2010) (``COMPETES Act''). As 
originally enacted by Congress, section 27 authorized the Secretary of 
Commerce (``Secretary'') to ``establish a regional innovation program 
to encourage and support the development of regional innovation 
strategies, including regional innovation clusters and science and 
research parks.'' In 2014, Congress enacted legislation that narrowed 
the scope of the Regional Innovation Program. See Public Law 113-235 
(Dec. 16, 2014). This legislative change is discussed more fully below. 
The Regional Innovation Program now encompasses two complementary sub-
programs: the Regional Innovation Strategies Program (``RIS Program'') 
set forth in section 27(b) of the Act, and the Regional Innovation 
Research and Information Program (``RIRI Program'') set forth in 
section 27(c) of the Act.
    Given EDA's leadership in and support of innovation and 
entrepreneurship as key elements of a robust economy, the Secretary 
turned to EDA to develop and implement the Regional Innovation Program. 
Established under the Public Works and Economic Development Act of 
1965, as amended (42 U.S.C. 3121 et seq.) (``PWEDA''), EDA leads the 
Federal

[[Page 64806]]

economic development agenda by promoting innovation and 
competitiveness, preparing American regions for growth and success in 
the worldwide economy. EDA makes investments to facilitate job creation 
for U.S. workers, increase private-sector investment, promote American 
innovation, and accelerate long-term sustainable economic growth. EDA's 
regulations, codified at 13 CFR parts 300 through 315, provide the 
framework through which the Agency administers its economic development 
assistance programs.

Structure

    Through the RIS Program (section 27(b) of Stevenson-Wydler), the 
core of the Regional Innovation Program, EDA competitively awards 
grants to eligible applicants for activities related to the formation 
and development of regional innovation clusters. 15 U.S.C. 3722(b). 
Stevenson-Wydler defines a regional innovation cluster as ``a 
geographically bounded network of similar, synergistic, or 
complementary entities that--(A) are engaged in or with a particular 
industry sector and its related sectors; (B) have active channels for 
business transactions and communication; (C) share specialized 
infrastructure, labor markets, and services; and (D) leverage the 
region's unique competitive strengths to stimulate innovation and 
create jobs.'' 15 U.S.C. 3722(f)(1). The RIRI Program (section 27(c) of 
Stevenson-Wydler) is designed to formulate and disseminate best 
practices for regional innovation strategies, provide technical 
assistance for the development and implementation of regional 
innovation strategies, support the development of metrics to evaluate 
regional innovation strategies, collect and publicize data on regional 
innovation cluster activity in the United States, and fund competitive 
research grants to support the goals of the RIRI Program. This NPRM 
focuses on the RIS Program because EDA has not yet implemented the RIRI 
Program. However, these proposed regulations--and, in particular, the 
definition sections--are structured to incorporate the RIRI Program 
into a future subpart C of part 312 of title 13 of the Code of Federal 
Regulations once EDA implements the RIRI Program. In addition to 
awarding grants under the RIS and RIRI Programs, EDA anticipates at a 
future date conducting COMPETES Act prize competitions that support the 
goals and objectives of the Regional Innovation Program. See 15 U.S.C. 
3719.
    EDA's economic development assistance programs under PWEDA and the 
RIS Program seek to increase economic growth and resilience, enhance 
prosperity, and improve quality of life, but they approach the goal 
from different angles, as reflected in the enabling statutes and 
regulations. For example, the focus of PWEDA's core programs is 
increasing employment and private investment in economically distressed 
regions. Funding generally is limited to regions that meet chronic high 
unemployment or low per capita income criteria, and grant rates 
increase with the level of economic distress up to a maximum of 100 
percent in limited circumstances. Conversely, the RIS Program focuses 
on encouraging scientific and technological innovation and 
collaboration; it thus provides funding to a broader range of entities 
and does not require applicants to demonstrate economic distress. 
Moreover, it also is capped at a 50 percent grant rate.

Implementation

    EDA publicly launched the RIS Program in September 2014 when it 
announced the first round of competitions for funding under the 
Program. The announcement of a Federal Funding Opportunity (``FFO'') 
identified three separate competitions for a total of $15 million in 
Federal funding: the i6 Challenge, Science and Research Park 
Development Grants, and Seed Fund Support (``SFS'') Grants (formerly 
known as Cluster Grants for Seed Capital Funds). The i6 Challenge, 
first launched in 2010 as part of the multi-agency Startup America 
Initiative, is designed to support the creation of programs for 
innovation and entrepreneurship--specifically, the development, 
creation, or expansion of proof-of-concept and commercialization 
programs that increase the development of innovations, ideas, 
intellectual property, and research into viable companies. Science and 
Research Park Development Grants supported feasibility and planning 
studies to create innovation hubs for driving the results of applied 
research and development to the commercial marketplace by supporting 
the entire product or process lifecycle from idea generation to 
business creation.
    SFS Grants support activities related to the feasibility, planning, 
formation, launch, or expansion of cluster-based seed capital funds to 
assist innovation-based startups with high growth potential. After 
considering more than 240 applications, in early 2015, EDA awarded 17 
i6 Grants, 12 Science and Research Park Development Grants, and 9 SFS 
Grants to applicants throughout EDA's six regions.
    In 2014, Congress amended the Regional Innovation Program in 
section 705 of the Revitalize American Manufacturing and Innovation Act 
of 2014, Public Law 113-235 (Dec. 16, 2014) (``RAMI''). Under RAMI, 
Congress eliminated the provisions authorizing Science and Research 
Park Development Grants and Loan Guarantees for Science Park 
Infrastructure but did maintain eligibility for such parks to apply for 
RIS awards. Accordingly, when EDA announced a second round of RIS 
Program competitions in August 2015, it included $10 million in Federal 
funding for i6 Challenge Grants and SFS Grants, and no longer had a 
separate Science and Research Park Development Grant competition. In 
addition, consistent with changes made by Congress in RAMI to section 
27(b)(7) of the Act, EDA implemented a targeted outreach program to 
ensure that public and private sector entities in rural communities 
were aware of the opportunity. After considering 168 applications for 
funding, EDA awarded 17 i6 Grants and 8 SFS Grants in early 2016.
    A third round of competitions for $15 million in funding for i6 
Challenge Grants and SFS Grants was announced in April 2016.
    With EDA's RIS funding, successful applicants have undertaken 
transformative projects such as the development of a hardware 
entrepreneurship ecosystem, expansion of a seed capital fund focused on 
commercializing water technology, and investigation of the feasibility 
of constructing a test track for connected and autonomous vehicles. 
Grant recipients are required to provide semi-annual reports, using 
EDA-developed metrics that are consistent across grantees, that EDA 
uses to evaluate the impact of the RIS Program.

Administration

    Administration and management of the Regional Innovation Program is 
an EDA-wide responsibility. The Regional Innovation Program (including 
the RIS Program) is broadly overseen by the Office of Innovation and 
Entrepreneurship (``OIE''), which was established by the Secretary 
pursuant to section 25(c) of the Act. Housed within EDA, OIE works to 
foster a more innovative U.S. economy focused on turning new ideas and 
inventions into products and technologies that spur job growth and 
competitiveness while promoting economic development through innovation 
and entrepreneurship. In addition, EDA's Deputy Assistant Secretary for 
Regional Affairs has served as the Grants Officer

[[Page 64807]]

for RIS Program awards, with day-to-day administration of these awards 
being handled by the Agency's regional offices.
    Because of significant differences in EDA's authority under PWEDA 
and Stevenson-Wydler, EDA is proposing regulations specific to the 
Regional Innovation Program. This NPRM focuses on the RIS Program, the 
only portion of the Regional Innovation Program currently being 
implemented in these proposed regulations. The basic regulatory 
framework proposed for this program is summarized below.

Section-by-Section Analysis

Section 312.1--Purpose and Scope of the Regional Innovation Program

    This section sets forth the general purpose of the Regional 
Innovation Program and provides a brief description of its two sub-
programs (i.e., RIS and RIRI Programs). 15 U.S.C. 3722(b), (c). Section 
312.1 also informs the public that the Secretary has delegated to EDA 
the authority to implement and administer the Regional Innovation 
Program.

Section 312.2--General Definitions From Public Works and Economic 
Development Act Regulations Inapplicable to This Part

    This section establishes that the definitions of Sec.  300.3 of 
chapter III are not applicable to the Regional Innovation Program. 
Section 300.3 defines terms related to EDA's administration of grant 
programs authorized by PWEDA. The Regional Innovation Program was 
established by Stevenson-Wydler, with distinct programmatic and 
eligibility criteria. Therefore, EDA proposes to include an umbrella 
Regional Innovation Program definition section that applies to all of 
part 312 and a separate definition section that applies only to the RIS 
Program, as described in Sec. Sec.  312.3 and 312.5 respectively, 
below.

Section 312.3--General Definitions

    This section defines terms applicable to the Regional Innovation 
Program. The definitions are applicable to the RIS Program as well as 
the RIRI Program.
    Section 312.3 includes terms defined in the Act relevant to the 
Regional Innovation Program such as Eligible recipient, Federal agency, 
Federal laboratory, Regional innovation clusters, Secretary, and State.
    This section also includes terms that EDA has previously defined 
and regularly uses in all of its grant programs, such as In-kind 
contribution(s) and Recipient. Many of these terms have been adopted 
almost verbatim from the PWEDA definitions at Sec. Sec.  300.3 and 
314.1 of chapter III; however, the terms FFO, Grant, Investment rate, 
Project, Real property, and Region have been slightly modified to 
reference Stevenson-Wydler as opposed to PWEDA, or to increase 
readability.
    EDA also proposes to adopt the commonly used definitions for the 
terms Equipment, Federal interest, and Nonprofit organization from the 
Federal Uniform Administrative Requirements and Cost Principles as set 
out in 2 CFR part 200 (``Uniform Guidance''). See 200 CFR 200.33, 
200.41, and 200.70.
    In addition, EDA establishes new definitions for the terms Economic 
Development Organization, Public-private partnership, and Science or 
research park because they are Eligible recipients under the RIS 
program. See 15 U.S.C. 3722(b)(3). Finally, EDA also establishes new 
definitions for Regional Innovation Program, RIS Program, and RIRI 
Program.

Section 312.4--Purpose and Scope of the Regional Innovation Strategies 
Program

    This section sets forth the general purpose and scope of the RIS 
Program as identified in section 27(b) of the Act. 15 U.S.C. 3722(b). 
Under the RIS Program, EDA will award competitive grants to eligible 
applicants that build public and private capacity to invent, improve, 
and commercialize new products and services with the goal of promoting 
economic growth in the United States.

Section 312.5--Regional Innovation Strategies Program Definitions

    This section sets forth the definition of Institution of higher 
education (``IHE''), a term that has a meaning unique to the RIS 
Program. Under the Act, both for-profit and nonprofit IHEs are eligible 
recipients under the RIS Program. 15 U.S.C. 3722(b)(3)(D). See analysis 
of Sec.  312.6, below. This means that the RIS Program cannot use the 
standard definition of IHE promulgated by the U.S. Department of 
Education (``ED'') in 20 U.S.C. 1001 and adopted in the Uniform 
Guidance at 2 CFR 200.55 because that definition includes conditions 
that the IHE be ``public'' or ``nonprofit.'' However, since the ED 
definition is the standard Government-wide definition, EDA proposes to 
incorporate as much of the ED definition as possible while omitting 
language related to ``public'' or ``nonprofit'' that conflicts with 
section 27(b) of the Act. Thus, in EDA's definition of IHE in Sec.  
312.5, EDA has duplicated 20 U.S.C. 1001 but with the following 
deletions: (1) paragraph (4) of 20 U.S.C. 1001(a) that requires an IHE 
to be ``a public or other nonprofit institution''; (2) a cross-
reference to paragraph (4) of 20 U.S.C. 1001(a) that appeared in 20 
U.S.C. 1001(b)(1); and (3) the reference in 20 U.S.C. 1001(b)(2) to 
``public or nonprofit private''.

Section 312.6--Eligible Recipients

    This section identifies those entities eligible to apply for and 
potentially receive funding under the RIS Program. The list is derived 
from the definition of ``Eligible recipient'' in section 27(b)(3) with 
one proposed clarification. Paragraph (D) of section 27(b)(3) of the 
Act lists and groups together several types of entities. 15 U.S.C. 
3722(b)(3)(D). EDA proposes to separate nonprofit organizations from 
the other entities to provide needed clarity. Section 27(b)(3)(D)(i) 
permits grants to for-profit as well as nonprofit institutions of 
higher education, public-private partnerships, science or research 
parks, Federal laboratories, and economic development organizations or 
similar entities. Congress established ``nonprofit organizations'' as a 
separate type of entity eligible for an RIS award and did not include 
the term ``nonprofit'' as a modifier on the other types of entities 
that are eligible recipients. Grouping together all of these various 
types of entities could lead to confusion that ``nonprofit'' applies to 
institutions of higher education, public-private partnerships, science 
or research parks, federal laboratories, and economic development 
organizations or similar entities, when it does not.
    Both nonprofit organizations and the other entities listed in 
section 27(b)(3)(D) must still meet the additional eligibility 
requirement in section 27(b)(3)(D)(ii) of demonstrating that a State or 
a political subdivision of a State supports the application.
    Consistent with section 27(b), individuals are not eligible 
recipients.

Section 312.7--Eligible Project Activities

    This section identifies the project activities that are eligible 
for potential funding under the RIS Program. The list is derived from 
section 27(b)(2) with proposed modifications to include three 
additional eligible activities and four activities that EDA proposes 
should be ineligible. 15 U.S.C. 3722(b)(2). The list of eligible 
activities provided by Congress is non-exhaustive because section 
27(b)(2) expressly allows discretion for the Secretary to determine 
appropriate RIS Program activities. EDA

[[Page 64808]]

therefore has added a catchall to the end of the list of eligible 
activities that provides ``(11) Any other activity determined 
appropriate by the Assistant Secretary.'' To that list, EDA also 
proposes to add two further activities, ``(9) Purchase of equipment, 
but only to the extent that such equipment is used to support another 
eligible activity as described in this section (the recipient may be 
required to secure and record the Federal interest in the equipment)'' 
and ``(10) Modifications or renovations of a facility that are 
necessary to install equipment.''
    With respect to (9) above, at times new innovations require the use 
of technologies, such as a three-dimensional printer, not readily 
available to an applicant. As such, EDA proposes to permit the purchase 
of equipment in limited circumstances. However, because EDA does not 
believe Congress intended for the RIS Program to primarily fund 
equipment, EDA proposes to confine the purchase of equipment to only 
those purchases that are otherwise used to support another eligible 
project activity described in Sec.  312.7. To protect the Federal 
interest in such equipment, EDA may require eligible recipients that 
purchase equipment to provide EDA with a security interest in the 
equipment that is perfected and placed of record consistent with 
applicable law (for example, through the execution of a Uniform 
Commercial Code Financing Statement (UCC-1) or other statement 
acceptable in form and substance to EDA).
    As a natural extension of including the purchase of equipment as an 
eligible project activity in Sec.  312.7(a)(9), there are situations 
when installing the equipment may require some minor modifications or 
renovations to a facility and this proposed rule makes those activities 
eligible as well in Sec.  312.7(a)(10).
    On the other hand, EDA proposes to make expenses related to 
construction (other than minor modifications or renovations of a 
facility needed to install equipment) and acquisition or improvement of 
real property ineligible activities. While EDA acknowledges that at 
times constructing a new facility and/or purchasing real property may 
support the development of regional innovation clusters, EDA does not 
believe those specific activities are within the core purposes of the 
RIS Program as defined by Congress. It is clear that Congress's intent 
for the RIS Program is to promote actual innovation, not the facilities 
or places where such activities may take place. There are other grant 
programs throughout the Federal Government that fund these activities 
(e.g., PWEDA). Further, as a practical matter, the costs associated 
with construction and real property acquisition or improvements are 
more substantial than the other types of eligible activities identified 
in Sec.  312.7 and consequently, permitting such activities would 
diminish EDA's ability to award as many grants as possible with its 
limited appropriations.
    EDA also proposes to make ineligible the use of RIS Program or 
matching share funds for equity investments. RIS Program awards have 
supported the creation of mechanisms for attracting, gathering, and 
deploying investment capital within regional innovation clusters that 
fill regional gaps in funding for early-stage companies, but RIS 
Program funds cannot be used to make those investments themselves. 
Further, there are other grant programs throughout the Federal 
Government that fund these activities such as the Small Business 
Administration's Small Business Investment Company program.
    Finally, EDA proposes that lending programs such as providing 
direct loans or capitalizing a revolving loan fund be ineligible. 
Providing loans, or permitting grant funds to support lending programs, 
requires specific Congressional authorization that is not provided in 
section 27 of the Act.

Section 312.8--Investment Rates

    This section identifies that the maximum grant rate permitted under 
section 27(b)(6) of the Act is 50 percent and states that there is no 
minimum grant rate. 15 U.S.C. 3722(b)(6). The grant rate here 
represents the percentage of the total Project cost that can be funded 
with EDA funds.

Section 312.9--Matching Share Requirements

    This section clarifies that an applicant's matching share 
requirements may be met by either cash or in-kind contribution(s). 
Matching share is the difference between the amount of the EDA 
investment permitted by the Act (see Sec.  312.8), and the total 
eligible costs of a proposed project. Consistent with EDA's regulations 
for programs authorized by PWEDA at 13 CFR 301.5, this proposed rule 
requires an applicant to demonstrate, at the time of application, that 
matching share is committed to the project, will be available as 
needed, and is not or will not be conditioned in any way that would 
conflict with the requirements of the RIS Program.
    EDA expressly retains discretion to determine whether the matching 
share is adequately documented to ensure that awards comply with the 
statutorily-established maximum investment rate. Applicants must comply 
with their own rules (as established in statutes, ordinances, bylaws, 
or the like) for appropriating or committing organizational funds; in 
many cases, these rules authorize the organization's governing body 
(rather than an individual executive) to approve proposed expenditures 
of cash but permit executives to commit in-kind personnel time based on 
their authority to manage employees and their workload. Applicants 
should consult their governance documents for guidance.

Section 312.10--Application Components

    This section sets forth the minimum information that applicants 
must provide to EDA to be considered for an RIS Program award, as 
outlined in section 27(b)(4)(B). 15 U.S.C. 3722(b)(4)(B). This includes 
information necessary for EDA to identify how the proposed activity 
will support an existing, or further develop an emerging, regional 
innovation cluster; how much outside support the cluster will receive; 
the methodology the applicant will use to get other entities to 
participate in and benefit from the cluster; the extent to which the 
cluster will stimulate innovation and positively affect the region's 
economy; the capacity for applicants to access or contribute to a well-
trained workforce; the ability of the recipient to attract additional 
funds; and the sustainability of the activity. To ensure that 
requirements remain current, EDA will specify application procedures 
and materials (such as required standard Federal forms) in each FFO for 
the RIS Program.

Section 312.11--Application Evaluation and Selection Criteria

    This section provides notice that EDA will evaluate and select 
complete applications based on the priorities and requirements set 
forth in section 27(b), the evaluation criteria and funding priorities 
identified in the FFO announcement, available funds, competitiveness of 
the application, and compliance with any other applicable Federal 
statutes and regulations. EDA proposes this flexible structure to 
ensure that the agency complies with required statutory elements such 
as ``special considerations'' for certain applicants ``from regions 
that contain communities negatively impacted by trade'' or who agree 
``to collaborate with local workforce investment area boards'' and at 
the same time follows Congressional directives outlined in EDA's annual 
appropriation and

[[Page 64809]]

supports Administration priorities. 15 U.S.C. 3722(b)(4)(C), (b)(5); 
see, e.g., H.R. Rep. 114-130 at 7 (May 27, 2015).
    The section also sets forth that EDA will notify applicants as soon 
as practicable regarding whether their applications are selected for 
funding and provides notice that there is no appeal process for denied 
applications.

Section 312.12--General Terms and Conditions for Investment Assistance

    This section expressly provides that most of the general terms and 
conditions found in part 302 of title 13 of the Code of Federal 
Regulations apply to the RIS Program. These terms and conditions either 
apply Government-wide as mandated by statute or regulation, or are EDA-
specific requirements and typically apply to all EDA grant programs, 
such as those authorized by PWEDA. EDA proposes to exclude those 
specific paragraphs of part 302 that are irrelevant to the RIS or RIRI 
Programs, or are unique to PWEDA. The excluded requirements are those 
related to ``Procedures in disaster areas'' (Sec.  302.2); ``Project 
servicing for loans, loan guaranties and Investment Assistance'' (Sec.  
302.3); ``Inter-governmental review of projects'' (Sec.  302.9); and 
``Attorneys' and consultants' fees, employment of expediters, and post-
employment restriction'' (Sec.  302.10).

Classification

    Prior notice and opportunity for public comment are not required 
for rules concerning public property, loans, grants, benefits, and 
contracts. 5 U.S.C. 553(a)(2). Because prior notice and an opportunity 
for public comment are not required pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553, or any 
other law, the analytical requirements of the Regulatory Flexibility 
Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.) are inapplicable. Therefore, a regulatory 
flexibility analysis has not been prepared.

Executive Orders No. 12866 and 13563

    This proposed rule was drafted in accordance with Executive Orders 
12866 and 13563. It was reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget 
(``OMB''), which found that the proposed rule will be a ``significant 
regulatory action'' as defined by Executive Orders 12866 and 13563.

Congressional Review Act

    This proposed rule is not major under the Congressional Review Act 
(5 U.S.C. 801 et seq.).

Executive Order No. 13132

    Executive Order 13132 requires agencies to develop an accountable 
process to ensure ``meaningful and timely input by State and local 
officials in the development of regulatory policies that have 
federalism implications.'' ``Policies that have federalism 
implications'' is defined in Executive Order 13132 to include 
regulations that have ``substantial direct effects on the States, on 
the relationship between the national government and the States, or on 
the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels 
of government.'' It has been determined that this proposed rule does 
not contain policies that have federalism implications.

Paperwork Reduction Act

    The Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.) 
(``PRA'') requires that a Federal agency consider the impact of 
paperwork and other information collection burdens imposed on the 
public and, under the provisions of PRA section 3507(d), obtain 
approval from OMB for each collection of information it conducts, 
sponsors, or requires through regulations. Notwithstanding any other 
provision of law, no person is required to respond to, nor shall any 
person be subject to a penalty for failure to comply with, a collection 
of information subject to the PRA unless that collection displays a 
currently valid OMB Control Number. It has been determined that the PRA 
does not apply to the proposed rule because the rule does not collect 
any new information requiring OMB approval. The proposed rule will use 
the previously approved Standard Form 424 family of forms to collect 
information relevant to the grant applications.
    The following table provides a complete list of the collections of 
information (and corresponding OMB Control Numbers) set forth in this 
proposed rule. These collections of information are necessary for the 
proper performance and functions of EDA.

------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Part or section of this                              Form/title/OMB
         proposed rule             Nature of request       control no.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
312.10........................  All Eligible            SF-424 (4040-
                                 Applicants must         0004), SF-424A
                                 submit required         (4040-0006), SF-
                                 application materials   424B (4040-
                                 using the Standard      0007).
                                 Form 424 family of
                                 forms.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

List of Subjects in 13 CFR Part 312

    Application requirements, Cluster grants, Financial assistance, 
Regional innovation, Regional innovation clusters, Regional Innovation 
Program, Regional Innovation Research and Information Program, Regional 
Innovation Strategies Program, Research.

Regulatory Text

    For the reasons set forth in the preamble, EDA proposes to amend 
title 13, chapter III of the Code of Federal Regulations by adding part 
312 to read as follows:

PART 312--REGIONAL INNOVATION PROGRAM

Subpart A--General Provisions
Sec.
312.1 Purpose and scope of the Regional Innovation Program.
312.2 General definitions from Public Works and Economic Development 
Act regulations inapplicable to this part.
312.3 General definitions.
Subpart B--Regional Innovation Strategies Program
312.4 Purpose and scope of the Regional Innovation Strategies 
Program.
312.5 Regional Innovation Strategies Program definitions.
312.6 Eligible recipients.
312.7 Eligible project activities.
312.8 Investment rates.
312.9 Matching share requirements.
312.10 Application components.
312.11 Application evaluation and selection criteria.
312.12 General terms and conditions for investment assistance.
Subpart C--Regional Innovation Research and Information Program
312.13 through 312.17 [Reserved]

    Authority:  15 U.S.C. 3701 et seq.; Department of Commerce 
Organization Order 10-4.

Subpart A--General Provisions.


Sec.  312.1  Purpose and scope of the Regional Innovation Program.

    The purpose of the Regional Innovation Program is to encourage and 
support the development of regional innovation strategies. The Regional 
Innovation Program includes two sub-

[[Page 64810]]

programs. One is focused on the formation and development of regional 
innovation clusters and implemented through the Regional Innovation 
Strategies Program. 15 U.S.C. 3722(b). The second program is focused on 
best practices, metrics and the collection and dissemination of 
information related to regional innovation strategies, achieved through 
the Regional Innovation Research and Information Program. 15 U.S.C. 
3722(c). The Secretary has delegated to the Economic Development 
Administration the authority to implement and administer the Regional 
Innovation Program.


Sec.  312.2  General definitions from Public Works and Economic 
Development Act regulations inapplicable to this part.

    The definitions contained in Sec.  300.3 of this chapter do not 
apply to this part.


Sec.  312.3   General definitions.

    As used in this part, the following terms shall have the following 
meanings:
    Act or Stevenson-Wydler means the Stevenson-Wydler Technology 
Innovation Act of 1980, as amended (15 U.S.C. 3701 et seq.).
    Assistant Secretary means the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for 
Economic Development within the Department.
    Department of Commerce, Department, or DOC means the U.S. 
Department of Commerce.
    Economic Development Organization means an organization whose 
primary
    purpose is to support the economic development of a community or 
region.
    EDA means the Economic Development Administration within the 
Department.
    Eligible applicant means an entity qualified to be an eligible 
recipient or its authorized representative.
    Eligible recipient means a recipient that meets the requirements of 
Sec.  312.6.
    Equipment is defined at 2 CFR 200.33.
    Federal agency means any executive agency as defined in 5 U.S.C. 
105, and the military departments as defined in 5 U.S.C. 102, as well 
as any agency of the legislative branch of the Federal Government.
    Federal funding opportunity or FFO means an announcement that EDA 
publishes during the fiscal year on a Federal Government grants 
platform or on EDA's Internet Web site at http://www.eda.gov, https://www.eda.gov/oie/, or any successor Web site, that provides the funding 
amounts, application and programmatic requirements, funding priorities, 
special circumstances, and other information concerning a specific 
competitive solicitation under EDA's Regional Innovation Program.
    Federal interest is defined at 2 CFR 200.41, in accordance with 2 
CFR 200.316.
    Federal laboratory means any laboratory, any federally funded 
research and development center, or any center established under 
section 7 or section 9 of the Act that is owned, leased, or otherwise 
used by a Federal agency and funded by the Federal Government, whether 
operated by the government or by a contractor.
    Grant means the financial assistance award of EDA funds to an 
eligible recipient, under which the Eligible Recipient bears 
responsibility for meeting a purpose or carrying out an activity 
authorized under Stevenson-Wydler. See 31 U.S.C. 6304.
    In-kind contribution(s) means non-cash contributions, which may 
include contributions of space, Equipment, services, and assumptions of 
debt that are fairly evaluated by EDA and that satisfy applicable 
Federal Uniform Administrative Requirements and Cost Principles as set 
out in 2 CFR part 200.
    Indian tribe means an entity on the list of recognized tribes 
published pursuant to the Federally Recognized Indian Tribe List Act of 
1994, as amended (Pub. L. 103-454) (25 U.S.C. 479a et seq.), and any 
Alaska Native village or Regional Corporation (as defined in or 
established under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (43 U.S.C. 
1601 et seq.)). This term includes the governing body of an Indian 
tribe, nonprofit Indian corporation (restricted to Indians), Indian 
authority, or other nonprofit Indian tribal organization or entity; 
provided that the Indian tribal organization or entity is wholly owned 
by, and established for the benefit of, the Indian tribe or Alaska 
Native village.
    Investment or Investment assistance means a grant entered into by 
EDA and a recipient.
    Investment rate means, as set forth in Sec.  312.8 of this part, 
the amount of the EDA investment in a particular project expressed as a 
percentage of the total project cost.
    Matching share or Local share means the non-EDA funds and any in-
kind contribution(s) that are approved by EDA and provided by a 
recipient or third party as a condition of an investment. The matching 
share may include funds from another Federal agency only if authorized 
by a statute that allows such use, which may be determined by EDA's 
reasonable interpretation of such authority.
    Nonprofit organization is defined at 2 CFR 200.70.
    Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship or OIE means the office 
established by 15 U.S.C. 3720.
    Project means the proposed or authorized activity (or activities), 
the purpose of which fulfills EDA's mission and program requirements as 
set forth in the Act and this part, and which may be funded in whole or 
in part by EDA investment assistance.
    Public-private partnership means a relationship formalized by 
contractual agreement between a public agency and a private-sector 
entity that reasonably defines the terms of collaboration in the 
delivery and financing of a public project.
    Real property means any land, whether raw or improved, and includes 
structures, fixtures, appurtenances, and other permanent improvements, 
excluding moveable machinery and equipment.
    Recipient means an entity receiving EDA investment assistance, 
including any successor to the entity approved by EDA in writing. If 
investment assistance is awarded to more than one recipient under a 
single award, the recipients are referred to as ``co-recipients'' and, 
unless otherwise provided in the terms and conditions of the investment 
assistance, each co-recipient is jointly and severally liable for 
fulfilling the terms of the investment assistance.
    Region or Regional means an economic unit of human, natural, 
technological, capital, or other resources, defined geographically. 
Geographic areas comprising a region need not be contiguous or defined 
by political boundaries, but should constitute a cohesive area capable 
of undertaking self-sustained economic development.
    Regional innovation clusters or RICs means a geographically bounded 
network of similar, synergistic, or complementary entities that are 
engaged in or with a particular industry sector and its related 
sectors; have active channels for business transactions and 
communication; share specialized infrastructure, labor markets, and 
services; and leverage the region's unique competitive strengths to 
stimulate innovation and create jobs.
    Regional Innovation Program means the program enacted by Stevenson-
Wydler at 15 U.S.C. 3722.
    Regional Innovation Research and Information Program or RIRI 
Program means the program authorized by 15 U.S.C. 3722(c).
    Regional Innovation Strategies Program or RIS Program means the 
cluster grant program authorized by 15 U.S.C. 3722(b).
    Science or research park means a property-based venture that has: 
Master-planned property and buildings designed primarily for private-
public

[[Page 64811]]

research and development activities, high technology and science-based 
companies, and research and development support services; a contractual 
or operational relationship with one or more science- or research-
related institutions of higher education or governmental or nonprofit 
research laboratories; a primary mission to promote research and 
development through industry partnerships, assisting in the growth of 
new ventures and promoting innovation-driven economic development; a 
role in facilitating the transfer of technology and business skills 
between researchers and industry teams; and a role in promoting 
technology-led economic development for the community or region in 
which the park is located.
    Secretary means the Secretary of Commerce.
    State means a State of the United States, the District of Columbia, 
the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, 
American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, or 
any other territory or possession of the United States.
    United States means all of the States.

Subpart B--Regional Innovation Strategies Program


Sec.  312.4  Purpose and scope of the Regional Innovation Strategies 
Program.

    Under the RIS Program, EDA makes grants on a competitive basis to 
eligible applicants to foster connected, innovation-centric economic 
regions that support commercialization and entrepreneurship. The grants 
are intended to build public and private capacity to invent and improve 
products and services and to bring those products and services to 
market through a process often referred to as technology 
commercialization, as demonstrated by methodologically sound metrics 
for output and outcome.


Sec.  312.5  Regional Innovation Strategies Program definitions.

    In addition to the defined terms set forth in subpart A, the 
following term applies specifically to the RIS Program:
    Institution of higher education means:
    (1) An educational institution in any State that--
    (i) Admits as regular students only persons having a certificate of 
graduation from a school providing secondary education, or the 
recognized equivalent of such a certificate, or persons who meet the 
requirements of 20 U.S.C. 1091(d);
    (ii) Is legally authorized within such State to provide a program 
of education beyond secondary education;
    (iii) Provides an educational program for which the institution 
awards a bachelor's degree or provides not less than a 2-year program 
that is acceptable for full credit toward such a degree, or awards a 
degree that is acceptable for admission to a graduate or professional 
degree program, subject to review and approval by the Secretary of 
Education; and
    (iv) Is accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting agency or 
association, or if not so accredited, is an institution that has been 
granted preaccreditation status by such an agency or association that 
has been recognized by the Secretary of Education for the granting of 
preaccreditation status, and the Secretary of Education has determined 
that there is satisfactory assurance that the institution will meet the 
accreditation standards of such an agency or association within a 
reasonable time.
    (2) Additional institutions included. For purposes of this subpart, 
the term Institution of higher education also includes--
    (i) Any school that provides not less than a 1-year program of 
training to prepare students for gainful employment in a recognized 
occupation and that meets the provisions of paragraphs (1)(i), (ii), 
and (iv) of this definition; and
    (ii) An educational institution in any State that, in lieu of the 
requirement in paragraph (1)(i) of this definition, admits as regular 
students individuals--
    (A) Who are beyond the age of compulsory school attendance in the 
State in which the institution is located; or
    (B) Who will be dually or concurrently enrolled in the institution 
and a secondary school.


Sec.  312.6   Eligible recipients.

    A recipient eligible for investment assistance includes:
    (a) A State;
    (b) An Indian tribe;
    (c) A city or other political subdivision of a State;
    (d) An entity that is a nonprofit organization and whose 
application for funding under the RIS Program is supported by a State 
or a political subdivision of a State;
    (e) An entity that is an institution of higher education, a public-
private partnership, a science or research park, a Federal laboratory, 
or an economic development organization or similar entity, and whose 
application for funding under the RIS Program is supported by a State 
or a political subdivision of a State; or
    (f) A consortium of any of the entities described in paragraphs (a) 
through (e) of this section.


Sec.  312.7   Eligible project activities.

    (a) Activities eligible for a RIS Program grant include:
    (1) Feasibility studies;
    (2) Planning activities;
    (3) Technical assistance;
    (4) Developing or strengthening communication and collaboration 
between and among participants of a regional innovation cluster;
    (5) Attracting additional participants to a regional innovation 
cluster;
    (6) Facilitating market development of products and services of a 
regional innovation cluster, including through demonstration, 
deployment, technology transfer, and commercialization activities;
    (7) Developing relationships between a regional innovation cluster 
and entities or clusters in other regions;
    (8) Interacting with the public and State and local governments to 
meet the goals of the regional innovation cluster;
    (9) Purchase of equipment, but only to the extent that such 
equipment is used to support another eligible activity as described in 
this section (the recipient may be required to secure and record the 
Federal interest in the equipment);
    (10) Modifications or renovations of a facility that are necessary 
to install equipment; and
    (11) Any other activity determined appropriate by the Assistant 
Secretary.
    (b) An ineligible activity includes, but is not limited to:
    (1) Use of Federal funds or matching share for equity investments;
    (2) Acquisition or improvement of real property;
    (3) Construction except to the extent provided in paragraph (a)(10) 
of this section; and
    (4) Lending programs, such as a direct loan program or capitalizing 
a revolving loan fund.


Sec.  312.8   Investment rates.

    (a) Minimum investment rate. There is no minimum investment rate 
for a project.
    (b) Maximum investment rate. The maximum investment rate for a 
project shall not exceed 50 percent.


Sec.  312.9  Matching share requirements.

    The required matching share of a project's eligible costs may 
consist of cash or in-kind contribution(s) whose value can be readily 
determined, verified, and justified. Applicants must show at the time 
of application that the matching share is committed to the project, 
will be available as needed, and

[[Page 64812]]

is not or will not be conditioned or encumbered in any way that would 
preclude its use consistent with the requirements of the investment 
assistance. EDA shall determine at its sole discretion whether the 
matching share documentation adequately addresses the requirements of 
this section.


Sec.  312.10  Application components.

    In addition to the criteria set forth in the FFO, to be considered 
for a RIS Program grant, eligible applicants must provide the following 
information:
    (a) A description of the regional innovation cluster supported by 
the proposed activity;
    (b) The extent to which the regional innovation cluster is 
supported by the private sector, State and local units of government, 
and other relevant stakeholders;
    (c) The methods that participants in the regional innovation 
cluster will use to encourage and solicit participation by all types of 
entities that might benefit from participation, including newly formed 
entities and rival existing participants;
    (d) The extent to which the regional innovation cluster is likely 
to stimulate innovation and have a positive effect on regional economic 
growth and development;
    (e) The capacity of participants in the regional innovation cluster 
to access, or contribute to, a well-trained workforce;
    (f) The ability of participants in the regional innovation cluster 
to attract
    additional funds to support the cluster with non-Federal funds; and
    (g) The likelihood that participants in the regional innovation 
cluster will be able to sustain activities after the grant expires.


Sec.  312.11  Application evaluation and selection criteria.

    (a) EDA will evaluate and select complete applications in 
accordance with the evaluation criteria, funding priority 
considerations, availability of funding, competitiveness of the 
application, and requirements set forth in section 27(b) of Stevenson-
Wydler, the FFO, and other applicable Federal statutes and regulations. 
All awards are subject to the availability of funds.
    (b) EDA will endeavor to notify applicants as soon as practicable 
regarding whether their applications are selected for funding.
    (c) Stevenson-Wydler does not require nor does EDA provide an 
appeal process for denial of applications for EDA investment 
assistance.


Sec.  312.12  General terms and conditions for investment assistance.

    RIS Program grants are subject to all requirements contained in 
part 302 of this chapter, except Sec. Sec.  302.2, 302.3, 302.9, and 
302.10.

Subpart C--Regional Innovation Research and Information Program


Sec. Sec.  312.13 through 312.17   [Reserved]

    Dated: September 6, 2016.
Roy K.J. Williams,
Assistant Secretary for Economic Development.
[FR Doc. 2016-22286 Filed 9-20-16; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3510-24-P