In This Issue
Funding and Research Announcements
Company News
Policy, Research & Resources
Funding & Research Announcements
   

Reauthorization of SBIR hangs in the balance
 
The proposed American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, released by the House Appropriations Committee, would dramatically increase federal funding for research in several agencies required to participate in the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program.  The National Science Foundation alone, for example, would receive an additional $3 billion - equal to 50 percent of its FY08 appropriations.  The Department of Energy would get a $2 billion research injection; the National Institutes of Health, a cool $1.5 billion for R&D. 
 
The SBIR program requires the research agencies to award 2.5 percent of their extramural R&D funds to small businesses. So it would seem small tech firms fighting for funds in the highly competitive SBIR arena could see a windfall in the coming months as a result of a Recovery Act.

That is, if the 25-year-old SBIR program itself is extended past its current expiration in March 2009. The program was to sunset Sept. 30 but received a reprieve until March 6 by way of the Continuing Resolution. Instead of SBIR being seen as an easy target for immediate attention by its authorizing committees in the House or Senate, there appears to be no movement to reauthorize or extend the program.

SBIR Reauthorization during the 110th Congress was contentious and dragged out because of proposed changes to the program. The time remaining in the program's current authorization does not permit a debate of similar length in the new Congress without another extension. 

 

Legislative Update
 
What will the economic stimulus package bring to Maine?
 
Both the House and Senate versions of the stimulus bill have a number of provisions that would have a positive impact on tech-based economic development activities around the country. Significant increases in spending for broadband and alternative energy will be of interest to Maine.

It is yet to be determined what exactly will be in the final package. Early indicators reveal that high-tech investments can be the contemporary equivalent of federal financing for highways in the 1950s, which fostered the growth of businesses like automakers and national retail chains.
 
Review a detailed analysis of spending levels in the House bill.


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Maine Office of Innovation Newsletter

Welcome to the February issue of Mainely Innovations. We encourage you to contribute your news and highlights.Submit info to jennifer.dechant@maine.gov.

Company News
Information on how companies and research institutions are moving Maine forward. 
 
 
E2Tech will showcase Maine's competitive advantage
 
Environmental & Energy Council of Maine (E2 Tech ) received  a Cluster Initiative award of $50,000 from Maine Technology Institute to highlight off-shore wind, tidal, wave and other potential ocean energy technologies including composites, marine technology and precision technology sectors before the international audience expected at EnergyOcean 2009, held June 17-19 in Rockport.
 
The expected outcome is to position Maine as a potential leader and driver of economic growth in ocean energy with its significant natural resources and its talent pool of entrpreneurs, businesses, researchers and scientists. Maine competed nationally for the opportunity to host the conference through the Department of Economic and Community Development.
 
 
Building a Vibrant Maine Economy...A Virtual Conference
 
The University of Maine has launched its virtual conference series. Throughout February, University of Maine professors will present research-based perspectives on topics that can help Maine citizens and policymakers gain a deeper understanding of issues affecting Maine's economic future. 
 
Topics and dates are as follows: Maine's Brain Gain by Prof. Gary Hunt (Feb. 2); Bottom-Up Business Innovation by Prof. Terry Porter (Feb. 9); and Investing in Maine's College Students, Prof. Philip Trostel (Feb. 16).
 
Presentations will be posted online at
www.umaine.edu/vme

Notes from the
Director of Office of Innovation

Catherine Renault highlights networking opportunities and underscores

Office of Innovation activities.
  
Last week, we released the annual Comprehensive Research and Development Evaluation and the 2009 Innovation Index. There was both good news and bad news in these reports. On the good news side, there was the finding that Maine's total R&D has climbed to $525 million (in 2005, the latest year for which NSF data are available). This jumped 65% over the past six years. When we started our investments in R&D in 1997, we were 49th on this measure; we are now 35th as a percent of gross state product.
 
This led the authors of the report to write that, "Maine's overall R&D capacity has increased steadily." They also report that the direct investment in Maine's private sector has had a significant impact - $2 billion in 2008, a 12:1 leverage of the state's funding.
 
On the other hand, the authors stress that we still have work to do with increased commercialization. According to the report, "Maine's growth in R&D capacity has yet to translate into significant job growth in the broad technology sector." For the first time, we actually see decreases in high tech employment in the state.
 
Recommendations, then, are focused on increasing the level of technology transfer and commercialization at university and nonprofit R&D institutions and enhancing the entrepreneurial infrastructure to foster greater growth and market opportunities for start-ups and small technology businesses. To read more, see both reports on our website,  
 
Policy, Resources & Reports
Check for information on federal resources and research that will impact Maine and could impact your work in science and technology.
 
 
Are you a mentor?
 
American teens are embracing the subjects of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) with increasingly positive attitudes; yet many lack the necessary encouragement from mentors and role models in these fields, according to this year's Lemelson-MIT Invention Index.


How Industrial Policy can rebuild America's jobs
 
This Business Week article explores how states are dedicating millions of dollars to build public-private partnerships that will reclaim world-class industries and jobs. What is the  difference between state and federal action on commercializing technology?  Read more.

Each newsletter will present information relevant to Company News, Funding & Research Announcements, Policy, Research & Resources along with Legislative Updates. Please feel free to contribute news and information relevant to your work. Forward your  information to jennifer.dechant@maine.gov.
 

Maine Office of Innovation

The Office of Innovation (click for more information) was established in 2004 by the Maine Legislature (5MRSA 13105) to "encourage and coordinate the State's research and development activities to foster collaboration among the State's higher education and nonprofit research institutes and the business community." The Maine Office of Innovation is a division within the Department of Economic and Community Development, Commissioner John G. Richardson.