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).