NBC Montana: Montana wins federal Tech Hub designation

by Bowen West

Montana, along with 30 other regions, earned the title of Regional Tech Hub. Now they can compete for millions of dollars in funding.

“We showed them what rural can do,” said Mary Craigle, the bureau chief at the Montana Department of Commerce.

This recent development is thanks to the CHIPS And Science Act, the goal of which is to bring more production back to the United States.

Another part of the act is to drive innovation. To do that, the government launched a competition to receive the Tech Hub designation.

With nearly 200 applicants, Headwaters Tech Hub was chosen to represent Montana.

The hubs are bringing innovation across different industries including clean energy, artificial intelligence, and here in Montana the focus is on photonic remote sensing.

“All of these technologies chosen had to demonstrate that they had national and economic security implications,” Craigle said.

The designation comes with $500,000 in funding to help launch hub activities and start developing new technology. It also provides opportunity to move to phase two of the program.

The push for Tech Hub designation was supported by U.S. Sens. Jon Tester and Steve Daines.

“Innovation can happen in any corner of America, which is why I’ve led the push to bring a Regional Tech Hub to Montana,” Tester said in a press release. “Today’s designation affirms what Montanans across our state already know to be true: there is untapped potential in rural America, and the Treasure State is ready to lead the nation in strengthening American security through domestic manufacturing and innovation. I’m proud to have led the charge to secure this competitive designation that will unlock new private and federal investments to turbocharge Montana’s economy, small businesses, and academic institutions.”

“Today’s announcement is another milestone for Montana, speaks volumes about the quality of our workforce and further solidifies our standing as a leading hub for cutting edge technology and research in the country. From optics and photonics to quantum computing, I am grateful help advance Montana’s ability to contribute even further to the important research and development that will help strengthen our national security and help us stay competitive against China,” Daines said in a press release.

In phase two, each of the new tech hubs makes another pitch for millions of dollars in funding. Those will be submitted in February 2024.

“It leads to our national and economic security in all kinds of different ways. And to do that for everyday Montanans, everyone can play a part,” Craigle said.