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Two tech hub bids seek to boost Virginia’s nuclear industry 

Virginia, (Qnnflash) – Two distinct applications have emerged from efforts to bolster the nuclear industry in the Lynchburg region and Southwest Virginia, both seeking participation in a new federal economic development initiative. While these applications share a common objective of expanding the nuclear sector, they possess some notable differences as they vie among a potentially extensive pool of candidates for the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s Tech Hubs program.

The overarching goal of both applications is to foster growth in the nuclear industry, a significant employer within the region. This employment comes through direct engagement with major entities like BWX Technologies and Framatome, situated in the Lynchburg area, and also through the broader network of suppliers supporting this sector.

Despite their shared purpose, the two applications—Virginia’s Technology Workforce and Innovation in Nuclear Hub (TWIN) and Lynchburg Regional NITCH (Nuclear Industrial Technology Commercialization Hub)—have distinctive focuses. These proposals aim to enhance the domestic economy and national security by championing areas with the potential to achieve global competitiveness within a decade in critical technologies.

April Wade, Executive Director of the Virginia Nuclear Energy Consortium, emphasized that the two applications complement each other rather than compete. According to her, they address different aspects of the industry’s needs, contributing to its overall growth.

The TWIN proposal, led by the Virginia Nuclear Energy Consortium, concentrates on workforce development, the deployment of advanced nuclear reactors, and exploring opportunities for advanced reactors to support data centers. Meanwhile, the Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance is spearheading the Lynchburg Regional NITCH consortium’s application, which prioritizes nuclear manufacturing and its workforce component.

Applicants in the Tech Hubs program can vie for strategy planning grants, tech hub designations, or both. Despite not seeking tech hub designation, the Lynchburg Regional NITCH application remains eligible for a planning grant. This grant would facilitate the hiring of a regional innovation officer and a consultant to oversee the consortium’s work, further refining the strategic plan to advance the nuclear industry.

Both the TWIN and Lynchburg Regional NITCH applications benefit from the support of major players in the region’s nuclear landscape, including BWX Technologies and Framatome. These entities view the proposals as mutually beneficial, reflecting the collaborative spirit driving the initiatives.

With applications backed by diverse consortiums spanning government, academia, and private industry, the effort to promote the nuclear industry exemplifies a multi-stakeholder approach. It underscores the commitment to elevating the sector through strategic planning, workforce development, and cutting-edge technologies.

The comprehensive push to strengthen Virginia’s nuclear industry transcends local and regional boundaries. Collaborative efforts between consortia like TWIN and Lynchburg Regional NITCH, as well as support from organizations such as the Virginia Innovative Nuclear Hub, InvestSWVA, and the Energy DELTA Lab, aim to create a more robust nuclear landscape with a focus on innovation and economic growth.

The Tech Hubs program, authorized by the CHIPS and Science Act, is poised to play a pivotal role in shaping Virginia’s nuclear industry future. As applicants await the outcome of the selection process for strategy planning grants and tech hub designations, the state’s commitment to nurturing advanced technologies and fostering economic development remains resolute.

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