In the June 5, 2006 Issue:
Copyright State Science & Technology Institute 2006. Redistribution to all others interested in tech-based economic development is strongly encouraged please cite the State Science & Technology Institute whenever portions are reproduced or redirected.
- Legislative Actions & Tech Talkin' Govs 2006, Part III
- Indiana Pension Fund Allocates $100M to VC
- Rural, Liberal Arts College Seeds New Angel Fund
- Maryland University-Industry Program Sees 74 Percent Boost in Funding
- Measuring Creativity in Phoenix
- Recent Research and Useful Stats: NAEP 2005 Assessments: The Nation's Report Card
- SSTI Job Corner
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Legislative Actions & Tech Talkin' Govs 2006, Part III
The third installment to Walkin' the Tech Talkin' Gov Walk (see the April 17 and May 8 issues of the Digest) covers the outcomes of the 2006 legislative sessions for two states, Illinois and Wisconsin. Following is a synopsis of bills passed and budget appropriations relevant to tech-based economic development and the priorities outlined in respective gubernatorial addresses at the beginning of 2006.
The General Assembly approved and Gov. Rod Blagojevich signed into law the FY 2007 budget last month. The General Assembly passed most of the governor's initiatives, including funding for new programs within the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), increases in higher education, and approval and funding for the River Edge Redevelopment Initiative. According to news reports, the legislature did not include $15 million requested by the governor for stem cell research.
The General Assembly approved funding for all of the programs within DCEO (refer to SB 1520) requested by Gov. Blagojevich, which includes funding for two new programs:
- $1 million for the Innovation Challenge Grant Program to assist companies by providing bridge funding for SBIR/STTR grants; and
- $1 million for the Entrepreneurship-in-Residence program to develop management talent and serial entrepreneurs.
Funding for existing programs within DCEO include:
- $5 million for the 20 Entrepreneurship Centers;
- $2.5 million for Small Business Development Centers; and
- $750,000 for the Illinois VENTURES Initiative to provide technical assistance and development funds for technology commercialization and research at the University of Illinois.
Also included in the budget is a $48 million increase for higher education. According to the governor's press office, universities will receive more than $426 million to help attract and retain the best faculty and increase other school programs. Community College grants will increase by nearly $7 million.
Also passed during this session is the governor's River Edge Redevelopment Initiative (see the Feb. 20 issue of the Digest). The initiative designates redevelopment zones in areas adjacent to rivers that have economic development potential. Under SB 17, zones are eligible to receive tax credits, exceptions and potentially new grant funding to support clean-up efforts that lead to revitalization.
Gov. Jim Doyle won legislative approval for several of his economic development initiatives during this session. The governor signed AB 208 in April, which creates enterprise zones and provides $10 million in economic development tax credits. The program, to be administered by the Department of Commerce, will provide $10 million in refundable tax credits for businesses located in designated zones anywhere in the state that create jobs and train workers. The bill also provides several financial incentives for businesses to locate, invest, and expand in the state. Gov. Doyle issued a number of vetoes in reference to the bill, which are available at: http://www.wisgov.state.wi.us/docview.asp?docid=6740
The governor signed into law SB 352 to create the Wisconsin Aerospace Authority (WAA) to develop and operate spaceports and related facilities and services providing the authority with the power of condemnation, authorizing municipalities to develop and operate spaceports, and making an appropriation. The bill creates a nine member board, giving them authorization to issue bonds to support any spaceport, facility or service of WAA.
Also during the session, Gov. Doyle won approval from the state Building Commission for his $150 million proposal for the first phase of the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery. According to the governor's press office, financing for the plan includes a $50 million alumni gift, which will be matched by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation and $50 million from the state. Approval by the commission is the final step before construction begins in December 2007. Gov. Doyle proposed the Institute for Discovery in 2004 as part of a statewide strategy to raise the state's status as a leader in biotechnology and stem cell research (see the Nov. 22, 2004 issue of the Digest).
Legislation to support the Biomedical Technology Alliance in Southeast Wisconsin, SB 372, proposed by Gov. Doyle during his State-of-the-State Address, failed to pass during this session (see the Jan. 23 issue of the Digest). However, it may be reintroduced sometime in the next session.
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Indiana Pension Fund Allocates $100M to VC
With assets totalling more than $15 billion, the Indiana Public Employees Retirement Fund (PERF) has decided to place $100 million into higher-risk equity placements through its first Indiana Investment Fund. The fund will exclusively target venture capital deals within Indiana, according to the PERF news release. Like pension funds in many states, PERF has a requirement to place a certain percentage of its assets in private equity. The PERF goal is 5 percent and includes real estate deals as well. The new fund will help, as only one-half percent of PERF assets presently are invested in a manner to meet the requirement.
The Indiana Investment Fund I will be managed by Credit Suisse, which is chipping in $5 million to raise the total available for placement to $100 million. Indiana business investment opportunities in the $1 million to $15 million range will be targeted. PERF's traditional investment decisions, for comparison, are typically in the $50 million to $100 million range.
Indiana Investment Fund's launch more than doubles the amount of investment capital specifically targeted at Indiana ventures. Also, managed by Credit Suisse for BioCrossroads, the $73 million Indiana Future Fund is a fund of funds seeded by Indiana's public pension funds, Eli Lilly and Company, WellPoint Inc., Indiana University, Indiana University Foundation, Purdue University, Ball State University Foundation, American United Life Insurance Company, Indiana State University Foundation and Guidant Corporation.
The Indiana Future Fund targets life science and biotech opportunities and has made five investments since its launch in 2003. No technology or industry emphasis has been designated for PERF's Indiana Investment Fund I. More information is available at: http://www.in.gov/perf/agency/Indiana_Investment_Initiative.html
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Rural, Liberal Arts College Seeds New Angel Fund
The opportunity for innovation and the need for angel capital are not limited to the major metropolitan areas and large research universities, as the board of trustees for Taylor University and leaders of the Grant County Economic Growth Council in rural Indiana will attest. The east-central Indiana county is home to just over 70,500 residents and, soon, two angel funds.
Taylor University, a Christian-based liberal arts college with an enrollment of 1,875 students, recently created an angel fund to encourage and support an entrepreneurial climate at the university and the Upland, In., community. In addition, the Grant County Economic Growth Council, based in Marion, In., is in the early stages of establishing a local angel fund to be a part of the Indiana Venture Network.
The university's Center for Research and Innovation (CRI) was set up about two years ago to help increase learning and generate research, technology transfer and commercialization, said Mick Bates, director of the innovation and enterprise program for CRI. The fund hopes to build upon its experience of the past two years, Bates said.
According to Bates, the Board of Trustees - some with a background in venture capital - came up with the idea for an angel fund out of the need to expand economic development efforts in the region. The university contributed $250,000 to get the fund going, and a management board is in the works to solicit members and funding. The university expects to start making investments in the first quarter of 2007.
"Investments will be oriented toward those with a Taylor University affiliation, such as students, faculty, alumni, and local businesses," said Bates, adding that all deals will be considered. The university is an evangelical, independent, interdenominational college. According to Bates, investments will be based on merit, and there is a high likelihood they will be made to new ventures that maintain high ethical standards.
Bates pointed out that, although no specific technology thrusts are being sought for investment, the university has strong space science technology capabilities, which may be an option.
Tim Eckerle, executive director of the Grant County Economic Growth Council, applauds the university for taking the initiative to further economic development in the region by establishing the Taylor University Angel Fund. Taylor University is a partner in the council's Innovative Network, along with Indiana Wesleyan University, Ivy Tech State College and Vincennes University Partnership.
"What is unique is that this is coming from a liberal arts college, as opposed to one that is research-intensive," Eckerle said. He added that it is not a good idea to brand the fund as being specifically technology-oriented.
"The idea is to promote entrepreneurship and risk-taking," Eckerle said. "Sometimes what starts out as non-tech can end up being tech-related."
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Maryland University-Industry Program Sees 74 Percent Boost in Funding
Maryland General Assembly approval of a $1 million boost for the Maryland Industrial Partnerships (MIPS) Program, one of the nation's oldest continually run programs to support university-industry research projects leading to technology commercialization, marks a 74 percent increase above the $1.35 million program budget for 2006. The increase was proposed by Gov. Robert Ehrlich in his fiscal year 2007 supplemental budget.
MIPS was authorized by the state in 1987 to promote the development and commercialization of products and processes through industry-university research partnerships. The program provides funds to Maryland companies to pay for university research. Since its inception in 1987 through 2003, 32 rounds of awards were completed.
Grants are awarded on a competitive basis for projects submitted by companies and researchers from any of the 13 University System of Maryland (USM) institutions. Types of projects funded include R&D in high-tech fields such as engineering, computer science, and physical and life sciences. MIPS also supports education and training projects designed to help companies plan and develop industrial training for employees.
Martha Connolly, director of MIPS, presented an overview of the program during SSTI's annual conference last year in the session, "Building Effective University-Industry Partnerships." According to the presentation, proposals are evaluated on technical merit and economic development potential. MIPS offers up to $200,000 in matching funds for research projects, and there is a 60-day turn around from application to award.
In reviewing "lessons learned" from the program, Ms. Connolly pointed out that testimonials are effective, offering several examples of successful products manufactured under the MIPS program. For example, the program has supported popular biotech drugs, a leading broadband by satellite service, and a kit to detect E. coli contamination in fresh produce and food services.
According to the presentation, the program's contribution to the state's economy has been widespread. Not only does the program create current high-paying jobs at the universities and companies, but it also has the potential to create future jobs with each investment. Additionally, the program opens direct company access to faculty experts at all USM institutions and is the only organized university R&D program in which commercialization is a primary factor for award.
More information about the MIPS Program is available at: http://www.mips.umd.edu/
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Measuring Creativity in Phoenix
While the Phoenix Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) has the recipe for a creative economy - people in creative occupations, industries with a creative workforce, and an environment that supports creativity - it falls short of the national average in more than 75 percent of all creative occupational categories, a new study by the Maricopa Partnership for Arts and Culture (MPAC) finds.
Creative Connections: Arts, Ideas, and Economic Progress in Greater Phoenix provides an in-depth examination of the region's strengths and weaknesses in building a creative economy and offers recommendations to attract and retain talent to the area. According to the report, Phoenix boasts a workforce of more than 100,000 people in creative occupations, including arts, design, culture and those rooted in new ideas and methods -- science, engineering and advanced technology, for example. These occupations represent 10 percent of the total wages in the region, with average wages of $56,729, compared to $33,705 for the region overall.
The report stresses the importance of building and sustaining creative economies in a global economy. Without a strong flow of innovation, which thrives in creative economies, the regional economy will inevitably falter as other U.S. regions with greater commitment surge ahead, the report states. Also, nations such as China and India are becoming more formidable competitors.
Comparatively, the Phoenix MSA ranks behind Seattle, Austin, San Diego, Dallas, Denver and Portland, respectively, in the percentage of its workforce in creative occupations, according to the report. The region's strengths lie within design, computer science and engineering, and business strategy fields, outpacing the national average for creative employment. However, the region falls short of the national average in more than 75 percent of all categories.
Although the report does not provide a specific action plan, it does outline recommendations for improvement. For example, government at all levels is a necessary and important partner in fostering vibrant communities and environments that nurture creativity, the report states. Both private and public sectors have roles to play to encourage and support innovative and bold entrepreneurial initiatives.
Additionally, the region needs to attract more creative outlets during non-work hours in order to attract and retain talent. Infrastructure and support for creative districts and vibrant "hot spots" is critical to the development and appeal of the region, according to the report.
MPAC evolved from a 2004 study that examined the state of arts and culture in the Phoenix region and its impact on the economy. The goal of the new Creative Connections: Arts, Ideas, and Economic Progress in Greater Phoenix is to demonstrate the relationship of creative industries and the innovation economy. It is available at: http://www.mpacarts.org/publications.php
Links to this report and 4,000 additional TBED-related research reports, strategic plans and other papers can be found at the Tech-based Economic Development (TBED) Resource Center, jointly developed by the Technology Administration and SSTI, at: http://www.tbedresourcecenter.org/.
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Recent Research and Useful Stats
NAEP 2005 Assessments: The Nation's Report Card
If you know any secondary school teachers or, like millions of Americans, you are heavily involved in high school graduation season right now, you know that the Class of `06 is not like the Class of `05 or the upcoming Class of '07. Assemblages of students tend to develop discernable class personalities as they march from kindergarten through grade 12, distinct and possibly very different than most of their individual personalities. Some classes handle the rigors and rituals of fund raising, homecoming, basketball season, prom and senior-itis better than others.
That may be the case too for academics and test taking, too, but trends across several classes suggest something undesirable happens regarding science and math education as kids proceed through the American education system. The Nation's Report Card 2005, released before Memorial Day weekend, reports twelfth grade student performance in the science portion of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) dropped between 1996 and 2005. Fourth grade performance during the same period rose.
Drawing on a sampling of 300,000 students, The Nations Report Card: Science 2005 provides national data of students average science scores from grades 4, 8, and 12, as well as from 44 participating states and the Department of Defense education activity schools. According to the report, national average science scores since 1996 have increased at grade 4, shown no significant change at grade 8, and declined at grade 12.
The 2005 results from The Nations Report Card for math and reading, released last October, showed similar trends: the fourth-grade math and reading scores have significantly increased since 2000, while since 2003, eighth-graders demonstrated modest improvement in math and a decline in reading. No twelfth-grade scores are available for math and reading.
The report also provides results for students grouped by various background characteristics (i.e., gender, race/ethnicity), in addition to different subjects, including mathematics, history, and civics. Frequently, minority students showed improvement on the 2005 science assessment. In grade 4, average scores increased by seven points for Black students and 11 points for Hispanic students since 2000. Those gains resulted in narrowing of the White-Black and White-Hispanic achievement gaps among fourth-graders since 2000. However, the 12th-grade White-Black gap widened during the same time period.
Useful Stats: State NAEP Rankings for 2005
SSTI has prepared a table ranking the 44 participating states and the Department of Defense schools by their NAEP score for 2005, which is reported on a 0300 scale. The data shows New Hampshire and Virginia tied for first with the highest 4th grade score of 161, while Mississippi placed last with a score of 133. The national average science score at grade 4 was 149.
SSTIs table is available at: http://www.ssti.org/Digest/Tables/060506t.htm
The Nations Report Card: Science 2005 is available at: http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2006466
The report card also is available with 4,000 additional TBED-related research reports, strategic plans and other papers through the Tech-based Economic Development (TBED) Resource Center, jointly developed by the Technology Administration and SSTI, at: http://www.tbedresourcecenter.org/.
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SSTI Job Corner
Complete descriptions of the position openings described below are available at http://www.ssti.org/posting.htm.
TechSolve Inc., a professional services organization based in Cincinnati, is seeking a machining project engineer to join its team of business experts, engineers and scientists in providing advanced machining/machining-related technologies support to its clients. This position requires the ability to conduct client site-visits, assessments and operations review; investigate, develop and provide solutions; and build/maintain the confidence of client-company decision makers in order to improve manufacturing processes and performance. The ideal candidate will be a highly technical, skilled communicator with expertise in the areas of high performance machining/material removal and tool dynamics. Applicants must be U.S. citizens and posses a Master of Science or Ph.D. degree in engineering. A concentration in manufacturing is preferred. Proficiency in software applications also is required.
In addition, the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology (OCAST) is accepting applications for two positions described below:
- Research Analyst. This person will be responsible for conducting comprehensive research studies; developing policy reports and make policy recommendations; coordinating with national, federal, state, local and university groups in the development of statistical data and policy; and managing OCAST's survey and data collection process. Candidates should have knowledge of research methodology, analytical techniques, data mining and appropriate information resources, and other job skills. Completion of a bachelors degree in economics, sociology, demography, public administration, business or a related degree is required. Salary is up to $45,000.
- Information Systems Network Management Specialist. This person will coordinate computer operating systems to support agency operations, including performing professional and technical work to establish and maintain computers services, networks and systems. Among other skills, candidates should have knowledge of installation and repaid techniques for computer network equipment and software and, for personal computers, peripherals and related software; knowledge of procedures for analyzing and resolving system operating problems; excellent customer service and communication skills; and the ability to establish and maintain effective working relationships. Completion of a bachelor's degree in computer science, management information systems or closely related field, or an equivalent combination of education and professional-level experience is required. Salary is $35,000 to $49,000.
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