- Minnesota Approves Energy Initiative, Funding for TBED
- Oklahoma Lawmakers Approve $40M Bioenergy Center, Cut EDGE
- Research Park Bill Introduced as Numbers Continue to Grow
- Mass. Governor Wants Free Two-Year Colleges within Decade
- A Novel SBIR Program Experiment by NIST
- Patent Reform Bill Would Raise the Stakes for Small Business IP Practices
- Useful Stats: NSF Releases State S&E Profiles 2003-2005
- SSTI's 12th Annual Conference will be held in [enter your city or state name here] in 2008!
Copyright State Science & Technology Institute 2007. 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.
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Minnesota Approves Energy Initiative, Funding for TBED
Funding for energy and TBED initiatives were highlighted in the fiscal year 2007-09 biennial budget at the close of the legislative session in Minnesota late last month. Winning nearly unanimous approval from the legislature was Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s Next Generation Initiative announced during his State-of-the-State Address (see the Jan. 15, 2007 issue of the Digest).
The $170 million Agriculture and Veterans Omnibus Bill, which provides funding for the initiative, creates the Next Generation Energy Board to research and recommend how the state can most efficiently achieve energy independence. The bill also focuses on Minnesota’s 25x'25 goal, similar to the national 25x'25 initiative. Minnesota energy companies are required under the bill to provide 25 percent of electricity from renewable sources by 2025. The goal also aims for agriculture, forestry and working lands to produce 25 percent of the total energy consumed in Minnesota and expand the Fuel Replacement Goal to 25 percent by 2025. Other major components include:
To ensure Minnesota achieves maximum economic benefits from enhanced renewable energy activities, the bill calls for the commissioners of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), Agriculture, Commerce and the Public Utilities Commission to develop a strategy that focuses on this goal.
- $4.25 million for a renewable energy research pool that includes $1.25 million to continue Clean Energy Resource Teams and $2 million for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and other automotive technology demonstrations, such as E85 conversion kit testing;
- $3 million for the E85 Everywhere initiative to double the number of E85 pumps in the state;
- $1.4 million in Next Generation Energy Grants for biofuels and biomass research, including the creation of a biomass fuel supply depot in LeSueur or Scott County and a feasibility study of renewable forest resources by the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa;
- $1 million in 25x’25 grants for on-farm biogas recovery facilities or methane digesters and another $1 million to continue the state’s rebate program;
- An aggressive energy saving goal for Minnesotans to reduce use of fossil-fuel by 15 percent by 2015; and,
- A goal of 1,000 certified Energy Star commercial buildings in the state by 2010.
The FY 2007-09 Budget appropriates $49.2 million for the Business and Community Development Division within DEED over the biennium. Included in this amount is a one-time appropriation of $1.75 million to the BioBusiness Alliance of Minnesota for bioscience business development programs to promote and position the state as a global leader in bioscience business activities. Additional programs receiving funding, include:
- $750,000 for a one-time appropriation to Minnesota Technology Inc. to support its small business growth acceleration program;
- $250,000 in FY08 for the University Enterprise Laboratories to support early-stage and emerging bioscience companies;
- $200,000 over the biennium to help small businesses access federal funds through the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs; and
- $125,000 in FY08 to develop and operate a bioscience business marketing program to market Minnesota bioscience business and business opportunities to other states and countries.
The legislature also approved new regional Math and Science Academies to provide professional development for all teachers and enhancements of statewide Science, Technology, Engineering and Math initiatives.
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Oklahoma Lawmakers Approve $40M Bioenergy Center, Cut EDGE
Oklahoma is one step closer to positioning itself as a leader in sustainable energy production, with the creation of a $40 million Bioenergy Center. The legislature passed SB 510 at the close of the 2007 session last month, establishing the Oklahoma Bioenergy Center announced by Gov. Brad Henry during his State-of-the-State Address earlier this year (see the Feb. 19, 2007 issue of the Digest).
The Bioenergy Center is a joint collaboration between the University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State University and the Noble Foundation. The institution will coordinate the state’s resources and research programs in the fields of biofuels and bioenergy development and production utilizing a $10 million annual appropriation over the next four years. Research efforts will focus on sustainable economic production of cellulosic ethanol and developing critical steps in production of biodiesel and ethanol from non-cellulosic sources.
The center’s fiscal year 2008 appropriation will be channeled through the state’s lead TBED agency, the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology (OCAST). The total OCAST budget for FY08 is $28.9 million, including surplus monies added throughout the year. OCAST will receive $6 million in surplus funds specifically for the Bioenergy Center. An additional $4 million from the OCAST budget also is directed to the center.
From the OCAST budget, $500,000 is directed to a Biofutures Institute in Tulsa and $350,000 is set aside for research equipment. Additionally, HB 1105, a spillover bill distributing excess revenues after the state’s maximum reserve balance is met, calls for $500,000 for OCAST to use to provide seed capital funding, a sharp decline from last year’s funding level of $5 million. The agency’s traditional programs will be funded at current levels.
Legislators also approved a $50 million increase of the authorization for endowed chairs at Oklahoma colleges and universities and $16.5 million for capital projects at the University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State University and regional universities, including the state’s Cancer Center. Department of Commerce appropriations for FY08 include $250,000 for the Oklahoma Alliance for Manufacturing Excellence and $300,000 for the creation of a Small Rural Manufacturers Program at Oklahoma State University.
Lawmakers did not allocate funding for two of the governor’s major economic development initiatives. Gov. Henry’s proposed budget included $50 million to the Economic Development Generating Excellence endowment fund and $15 million to the Opportunity Fund from surplus general revenue funds. Both initiatives were funded last year (see the June 26, 2006 issue of the Digest).
The budget awaits Gov. Henry’s anticipated signature.
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Research Park Bill Introduced as Numbers Continue to Grow
Over the last few months, several research parks across the country have announced formal openings, expansions, first tenants and new developments – all with the same general goal in mind. While many of these parks are merely real estate developments, research parks often are constructed around universities and laboratories and are designed to house tenants that will utilize the resources and create new jobs and spin-offs.
As the number of research parks continues to increase, legislation was introduced in the U.S. Senate, S. 1373, on May 11 by Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR) and cosponsored by Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME). The “Building A Stronger America Act,” if passed in its current form, would authorize $7.5 million in federal grant funding for feasibility studies and up to $50 million in loan guarantees for science and research park construction and expansion.
While touting the importance of research and science parks, S. 1373, as written, does not relate potential projects in any way to a university or regional innovation strategy, leaving the program open to speculative or competing developments that conflict with the ongoing TBED efforts of the affected community, critics note.
The bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation for consideration.
Recent examples of how science and research parks are already enjoying a period of growth include:
The Gateway University Research Park, a joint collaboration between North Carolina A&T State University and the University of North Carolina Greensboro, broke ground last month. The research park is expected to bridge the universities’ research efforts.
Old Dominion University announced the formal opening of the first office building in the campus’ Innovation Research @ODU. The park is a public-private partnership designed to merge university intellectual capital, faculty and students with private-sector companies to pursue research, technology development and business creation opportunities. The building is equipped with the infrastructure to support wet labs for biomedical, biochemical and oceanographic research. ODU plans to add at least three more buildings of similar size to the research park.
Construction of a new 50,000-square-foot National Science Formulation Laboratory located at the Southern Miss Innovation and Commercialization Park is expected to begin this summer. The laboratory - the first building to be constructed in the park - will contain state-of-the-art lab equipment and instrumentation. It is designed to support throughput formulation and formulation science for addressing issues in marine composites, coatings and smart films and is a key actor in the I-59 Technology Corridor concept. The research park was constructed in 2006 and is funded through a combination of local, state and federal funding.
Oklahoma Technology and Research Park (OTRP) is expanding with a new 46,000-square-foot multi-tenant office and lab building named Venture II. The building will be designed specifically to enhance private company research collaborations with Oklahoma State University. It will be housed across from Venture I, the first multi-tenant building. OTRP’s Joint Board also recently announced planned construction of a 24,000-square-foot business accelerator building to be funded by the state.
Stennis Technology Park welcomed its first tenant last month in a new 30,000-square-foot building. The park is designed to attract technology companies and other businesses with links to Stennis Space Center. The first tenant, NVision Solutions, works on geospatial technology integration. Construction on the building was started before Hurricane Katrina but was destroyed after the storm. Officials expect to begin construction on another 30,000-square-foot building and a 10,000-square-foot building soon.
A research and technology park in South Bend, Ind., is expected to open later this year. Innovation Park @ Notre Dame will be built on land owned by Notre Dame University, although it is not strictly a university project. Tenants are expected to include researchers from area colleges, hospitals, start-up companies having high-tech business ideas in mind, firms providing support for researchers and start-ups, and other businesses.
A new private sector science and technology park in Flagstaff is scheduled to break ground in spring 2008. The City of Flagstaff has entered into an agreement with private developers to build a 200,000-square-foot research center to house office, biotechnology and research space.
The Bethlehem Town Board recently approved a final environmental impact statement for a 400-acre technology park in Bethlehem, N.Y. The Vista Technology Park received an initial $1 million pledge from the Albany County Legislature nearly four years ago to help develop the project. The site is expected to house 20-30 buildings with a mix of high-tech businesses and retail development. Pending further approval by the planning board for land use, the tech park is scheduled to break ground by the end of 2008.
U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp (R-TN) announced in April a $1.2 million federal Economic Development Administration grant to help fund the Oak Ridge Science and Technology Park. The first 12 acres of the 40-acre park is expected to be finished next year. The park will be managed by CROET, a nonprofit economic development group charged with finding new uses for Department of Energy land and buildings.
More information on the important role of university research and science parks is available from AURP, the international trade association representing the industry at http://www.aurp.net.
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Mass. Governor Wants Free Two-Year Colleges within Decade
Using his commencement address for the 2,600 graduates of the University of Massachusetts Boston as his podium, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick outlined a “vision for a student-centered public education system” that includes, among other provisions, universal pre-kindergarten, extended school days and years, and free community college tuition for all Massachusetts high school graduates.
While the audience cheered the governor’s proposals, critics were equally quick to react to the lack of specifics to explain how the ambitious proposal might best be accomplished or financed. News reports offer a range of estimates as to how much free tuition for community college students would cost the state -- figures range from $56 million in the New York Times to $180 million in the Boston Globe. Universal preschool and longer school terms are even pricier for the Commonwealth, at $600 million and $1.3 billion, respectively, according to a June 3 article in the Boston Globe.
The speech may have been meant to be more inspirational than informative, however. Based on the governor’s press release, the governor may have been attempting to motivate the state’s public and private leadership to work toward the goals of educational reform. In fact, one of the key elements of the proposal creates a commission called “the readiness project,” which would consist of educators, legislators, business leaders and community leaders tasked with working through fundamental and system challenges to public education in the Commonwealth.
Establishing a commonly accepted language may be the first challenge for the new vision. In the address, Gov. Patrick said the “cradle to career” initiative would emphasize “the whole child, not just success on a single standardized test,” drawing immediate opposition from proponents for standardized testing and tighter accountability standards incorporated in educations reform efforts such as No Child Left Behind.
The governor’s press release is available at: http://www.mass.gov/?pageID=gov3homepage&L=1&L0=Home&sid=Agov3
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A Novel SBIR Program Experiment by NIST
[Editor’s Note: The following article is reprinted from the June 1 issue of the SBIR Gateway Insider Newsletter, with permission from the author, Rick Shindell at Zyn Systems. The entire issue is worthy reading and is available, along with archived issues, through the SBIR Gateway that Shindell maintains as a free, public resource for all things SBIR. The SBIR Gateway is http://www.zyn.com/sbir/.]
As many of you know, the NIST SBIR program was severely impacted by the loss/reduction of funding for the NIST ATP program (considered extramural research by which NIST SBIR obtains its 2.5 percent funding).
NIST SBIR is trying a pilot program that is somewhat unusual. NIST's SBIR Program is asking small business owners to examine NIST patents as well as other NIST-developed technology for commercial viability, and to identify technological gaps that impede the patent's transition to the marketplace. NIST intends to incorporate technologies of special interest to industry in its 2008 SBIR research and development solicitation for proposals.
NIST's pilot effort to secure small business participation in formulating the SBIR solicitation is aimed at increasing private-sector commercialization of innovations derived from federal research and development.
The NIST SBIR Program is inviting small, American-owned companies to scan NIST patents and technologies and offer research suggestions in advance of the 2008 SBIR solicitation. In that competition, NIST will offer awardees a non-exclusive research license and the option to a non-exclusive commercialization license. The company or companies selected for the SBIR award, with access to NIST technology and personnel knowledgeable about the NIST patent, will be expected to add research to the NIST innovation and develop a commercial product based on the NIST patent. The deadline for private sector suggestions to the solicitation is Aug. 31, 2007; the formal solicitation is expected to be issued in November 2007, with proposals due in late January 2008.
To search for specific technologies, go to: http://patapsco.nist.gov/TS/220/sharedpatent/index.cfm
For a data dump, go to: http://patapsco.nist.gov/TS/220/sharedpatent/patents_keyword.cfm
To browse through NIST's Tech Beat, visit: http://www.nist.gov/public_affairs/techbeat/archive.htm
If you identify NIST-held patents, or other NIST technologies that are not patent protected, and wish to explore opportunities to conduct research to further the technology to transition to the commercial market, please call Clara Asmail, NIST SBIR Program Manager, (301) 975-2339 or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editor’s Addition: On June 12, at 1 p.m. eastern time, the NIST SBIR Program Manager Clara Asmail will be discussing plans for a fall SBIR Solicitation that will, in part, support subtopics to extend technologies described by a specific NIST patent or research activity (see http://www.nist.gov/public_affairs/techbeat/tb2007_0524.htm#sbir). This web cast, conducted in concert with the NIST Manufacturing Extension Partnership, is to seek industry input in establishing subtopics. For further information regarding the web cast, please contact Tab Wilkins at email@example.com or 301.646.4069.
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Patent Reform Bill Would Raise the Stakes for Small Business IP Practices
The U.S. patent system has long been an outlier in its approach to protecting intellectual property (IP) rights. While every other industrialized country awards IP protection to the first party to apply for a patent, the U.S. system bases its IP decisions on the first inventor of a particular technology. As foreign markets have become more important to high-tech companies seeking to go global from day one, this approach has complicated the country's ability to enter into international agreements that would protect the IP rights of U.S. firms around the globe.
In recent years, legislators and industry groups have attempted to harmonize U.S. patent laws with the first-to-file systems used in Europe and Asia. For the third session in a row, Congress is considering a reform package that would put an end to the first-to-invent system and, this time, some change seems more likely to pass. The Patent Reform Act of 2007 would bring U.S. patent regulation more in line with the IP policies of other nations and close many of the perceived loopholes left by previous overhauls of the patent system.
Though the first-to-invent system is frequently depicted as an odd anachronism within U.S. patent law, the system has offered some additional protections for smaller businesses. By protecting the original inventor of a new technology instead of the first filer, the first-to-invent system helped to ensure that inventors would not be denied profit from their work simply because another party beat them to the patent office. Filing for patents can be a complex and expensive process that favors larger companies with IP experts on staff.
The first-to-invent system, however, is fraught with difficulty since it can be difficult and expensive to determine the first inventor of a particular technology. The proposed legislation would create a more affordable provisional application that would allow smaller businesses to quickly register their patent. Proponents of the new reforms believe the first-to-file system will reduce the costs of litigation over claims to IP ownership and bring more technologies to the public's attention, since inventors now have an additional incentive to register their discoveries.
The legislation also would alter the process of challenging new patents. Under the new rules, anyone can challenge the validity of a patent issued within the previous 12 months. Hearings would take place through the patent office, which will reduce the amount spent on patent litigation through the federal courts. These changes are intended to streamline the patent challenge process and reduce the number of "obvious" and infringing patents issued each year. If more than 12 months have passed, the challenger may take the matter to the courts, but only if the case has not been previously heard by the patent office.
The changes would make it more important than ever for researchers, entrepreneurs and smaller companies to receive guidance on the patent application process. Filings would have to be made quickly through the patent office and be of sufficient quality to withstand any challenges from competitors or other IP owners. The California Healthcare Institute claims that the streamlined challenge process could do particular harm to biotech firms by making it too easy for competitors to prevent the protection of new life science discoveries. Small firms would have to be prepared for strong challenges to their patents, especially during the initial 12-month period.
Check the Library of Congress' THOMAS website for the status and text of the House resolution and the Senate bill.
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NSF Releases State S&E Profiles 2003-2005
The National Science Foundation (NSF) has published the latest annual update to its online statistical resource center for state-level statistics on various science and engineering (S&E) indicators. Drawing data from the most recent updates to seven annual NSF surveys and U.S. Census statistics, Science & Engineering State Profiles, 2003-2005 includes downloadable Excel or PDF versions of state statistics and rankings for:
* Number of doctoral scientists, 2003
* Number of doctoral engineers, 2003
* S&E doctorates awarded, 2005
* S&E and health postdoctorates in doctorate-granting institutions, 2005
* S&E and health graduate students in doctorate-granting institutions, 2005
* Population, 2005
* Civilian labor force, 2005
* Personal per capita income, 2005
* Total federal expenditures, 2004
* Federal R&D obligations, 2004
* Total R&D performance, 2004
* Industrial R&D, 2004
* Academic R&D, 2005
* Number of SBIR awards, 2000-2005
* Utility patents issued to state residents, 2005
* Gross state product, 2005
Science & Engineering State Profiles, 2003-2005, as well as links to previous editions to study trends among states, is available at: http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/nsf07322/
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SSTI's 12th Annual Conference will be held in [enter your city or state name here] in 2008!
Yes, it could happen. Bid packets are available. Your organization could host SSTI's 12th annual conference during the fall of 2008. More than 350 of the nation's greatest thinkers and practitioners for building tech-based economies could descend on YOUR city.
Over the past 11 years, SSTI's annual conference has grown to become the nation's largest gathering of the tech-based economic development community. The 12th annual conference brings the opportunity to acknowledge the impact and growth of tech-based economic development. It is our hope that this conference will inspire even more collaboration, creativity and success across the nation.
The conference host is an integral part in the preparation and success of each conference. Because of the host’s knowledge of local and regional resources, the host is asked for suggestions and advice concerning local suppliers, destinations and potential experts/speakers. Also, the host receives 40 complimentary conference registrations with minimal or no travel costs.
Please contact, Noelle Sheets, director of membership services, at sheets @ ssti.org to request a conference bid package today! Letters of intent are due on June 12.
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