Dear Colleagues-


I promised to keep my opinions out of this newsletter, and this is a difficult task given the almost daily provocations from Augusta and Washington, DC. But, if you are so inclined, I invite you to read my blogs at http://www.innovationpolicyworks.com/blog/. I recently wrote about the infamous mural at the Maine Department of Labor (did you know that officials from the Department are depicted on the mural?) and a great new report from McKinsey Global Institute that I heard about last week. 




Catherine S. Renault, PhD

SBIR Reauthorization Hijacked Again


You may recall that we've been writing about the reauthorization of SBIR and STTR Research Grants in the US Congress for several years. The reauthorization had been halted by a very tough issue - should venture backed small companies (i.e., owned more than 50% by VCs) be eligible for SBIRs/STTRs, -  but the factions inside the community came together to work out a compromise. The compromise is embodied in S. 493, introduced by our own Sen. Snowe and Sen. Landrieu (D-LA.) The bill sailed through the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship (which Sen. Snowe chairs).


After that, the bill came to the Senate floor where more than 70 amendments were made. This process turned the bill into what is called a "Christmas Tree," with all kinds of unrelated items that inflate the fiscal impact and greatly reduce the prospects of passage.


In the House, the Small Business Committee heard testimony on its own reauthorization bill for the programs, but Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-NY) seems determined to prevent any compromise from surviving. In the meantime, SBIR/STTR program will sunset in May unless the Congress gets its act together. 




To Fletcher Kittredge, CEO of GWI (Biddeford)and Martin Grimnes, President of Harbor Technologies (Brunswick), for their selection as Business Leaders of the Year by MaineBiz.  Note that once again, the technology sector is leading Maine.


To Quantrix (Portland) for the release of version 4.0 of their business modeling and analytics software featuring a way to share financial models on its web reporting portal "Qloud." For more information, see www.quantrix.com.


To Ocean Renewable Power Company (Portland) for partnering with Homer Electric Company to pioneer tidal power in Cooks Inlet in Alaska. See www.oceanrenewablepower.com.


To Biovations (Boothbay) for the receipt of a contract from the US Marine Corp to develop a special boot-drying technology based on its non-woven polylactic acid (PLA) polymer material fiber forming technologies.


(If you'd like to have your company mentioned in here, let me know what you are up to!)


Continuing Saga - JAX and Florida


During the last election, many candidates made headlines complaining about plans by The Jackson Laboratory (JAX) to open a facility in Florida. However, JAX had to shelve its plans last year facing oppositions from residents in Collier County (FL) who thought that the hundreds of millions in state and county bonds needed to finance the new facility amounted to "corporate welfare."


Last month, JAX announced that it will try again to develop a personalized medicine campus in Florida, this time partnering with the University of South Florida for a project in Sarasota and Tampa.  It is not known what new FL Gov. Rick Scott think about the new plan, which seeks $100 million in state funds and an equal amount from the county.


Florida has been working for a number of years to enhance its bioscience cluster, currently at around 60,000 jobs (roughly the same size as ALL science and technology in Maine).


Jobless Entrepreneurship


The Kauffman Foundation's annual review of entrepreneurial activity released in March shows that more Americans became entrepreneurs during the Great Recession that at any time in the past 15 years. However, most of these entrepreneurs are going it alone, rather than starting companies that employ others. Maine continues to rank high on the Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity, ranking 21st, tying the national average and staying above the rest of New England. Read the entire report at www.kauffman.org.



April 2011 Issue
SBIR Reauthorization
JAX and Florida
Jobless Entrepreneurship
States and Innovation
Degrees for What Jobs?

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States and Innovation: Setting the State for Job Creation

Recently I had the opportunity to present at a Policy Institute put on by the National Governor's Association Center for Best Practices called State and Innovation: Setting the Stage for Job Creation in Washington, DC.  The Institute focused on what states and governors can do to improve the economy and create jobs.


Topics included ideas about how to best cultivate the elements of an innovation economy, build cluster strategies for specific industries such as advanced manufacturing and energy, spur partnerships between research universities and the private sector, and redesign state economic development agencies.  The meeting provided an opportunity for governors' top economic advisors from 32 different states to discuss promising ideas and brainstorm with their peers.  I presented with C2ER Executive Director Ken Poole on Measuring Success: How Do You Determine If You're Successful? 


Degrees for What Jobs?

The National Governor's Association released a new report while I was there last week called Degrees for What Jobs? The report outlines the idea that it is not just getting more students to enter college and finish that will drive economic growth, but that students' academic success is linked to the needs of employers.


The report goes on to outline the bold, comprehensive strategies undertaken in Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio and Washington, where postsecondary education is linked with the state's economic goals. The steps taken by these states are summarized as:


1. Set clear expectations for higher educations' role in economic development. 


2. Emphasize rigorous use of labor market data and other sources to define goals and priorities.


3. Encourage employers' input in higher education. 


4. Require public higher education institutions to collect and publicly report impacts.


5. Emphasize performance as an essential factor in funding.


The report can be downloaded at: www.nga.org. 



About Innovation Policyworks, LLC


Innovation Policyworks, LLC, is an innovation strategy and evaluation firm focused on the development and measurement of effective state and regional technology-based policies and programs. This is different from any other offering because we explicitly link policy design and evaluation: recommended programs are appropriately focused on outcomes with a disciplined measurement process in place that allows policymakers and legislators to see what progress is being made and whether improvements need to be considered. 


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