First, thanks to all of you who write or mention when I see you that you enjoy this newsletter. It often feels like I am talking to myself, so your encouragement means a lot.


Check out my new and improved webpage, and blog (http://www.innovationpolicyworks.com. Thanks to iBec Creative for their work on this website - they are a past winner of the USM Business Plan competition and MCED graduate - and awesome at what they do!


Do note the Congrats column. So much great is going on in our community and completely ignored by the mainstream press. So if you want folks to know what you are up to, let me know, and I will include it here.



More News from Augusta - Still Debating Budget, and LD22--No Bonds!


As I write this, the Appropriations Committee is still debating the budget, and apparently making some progress. Having decided against some of the proposed changes to the state employee pension system, they are now facing finding another $50 million in cuts. So, although innovation programs have been untouched as of now, it remains to be seen if they will remain intact.


As for R&D bonds, they come second after the budget, and the Legislature is facing two looming deadlines - they run out of money to operate the Legislature on June 8 and there is a statutory adjournment deadline a week later. So, although there is desire to at least hear about the three R&D bond bills, it seems unlikely that there will be time to get them done. Best case now would be to table the bills until next year.


And, LD22, the bill to expand the Seed Capital Tax Credits came back from the dead. The bill had been voted Ought Not To Pass in the Taxation Committee, but with a divided vote. Then, the minority report from the Committee was unanimously approved by the House and the Senate, which made it "Ought To Pass"! So, the bill now sits on the Appropriations Table with a $53,000 fiscal note. In order to get to the next step, the Appropriations Committee would need to decide that this is important and cut the $53,000 from somewhere else. Anything is possible. No word on whether the Governor would support the bill - he was quite negative about it in February. If it passes but the Governor vetoes after the legislature had adjourned, there is no way to override the veto. So, it's still possible that the Legislature will do the right thing....you can help by calling or emailing your representatives.


Bottom line - this entire session has been spent fighting back bad ideas. No economic development strategy has been articulated, funded or supported by either party. Considering that the last election was all about jobs, this is very disappointing. 



What Does it mean to be Made in America?


I recently attended the annual meeting of the Manufacturing Extension Partnership in Orlando, and many were discussing how to jump start manufacturing through innovation. Now, an MIT group is starting a new initiative Production in the Innovation Economy. This is a neat twist -- how to regain our lead in production and manufacturing. The team owes its inspiration to the Made in America effort 25 years ago, also led by a MIT team. MIT Professor Suzanne Berger will chair the effort. 


Does Broadband Access Mean Jobs for Rural States?


A new report from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) shows that 63 percent of US households have broadband, putting us ninth among the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries. Maine is lightly below the US average with 62 percent penetration. Seventeen states are below us - so kudos are due to ConnectME for working to get broadband in Maine's most rural areas.


However, other observers are cautioning that just laying lines in not enough. In rural areas, many folks need to be trained to use the Internet, and to understand the value of the service. And, any economic development based on the Internet in these communities is likely to also require more workforce training and education to attract and grow new jobs.  John Horrigan, director of the Pew Internet & American Life Project said it best, "It's Economic Development 101 to try to improve the supply of infrastructure to make a locality more attractive for businesses, but you do need a skilled workforce to fully exploit that."


SBIR Extended for 4 Months -- Again


To those who are following the never-ending saga of keeping the SBIR program alive in Washington, another amusing tale (NOT!). The good news is that at the 11th hour, S.1082 was passed extending SBIR as is through September 30, 2011. Amazingly, Nydia Velazquez, ranking member of the House Small Business Committee, tried to stop this extension. She has been the impediment to reauthorization of SBIR for years, as she wants to have it changed to allow VC-majority-owned companies to be eligible for the SBIR program.  And, Nydia, among others, hijacked yet another bill that was a longer extension by adding other non-related provisions.


More good news. Senator Snowe is a big supporter of small business, but it couldn't hurt for all of us to let our entire delegation know how important SBIR is to Maine (between 10 and 20 of our most promising companies get SBIR funding each year), especially when other forms of capital are extremely hard to come by. 


May 2011 Issue
More News from Augusta
Made in America?
Broadband and Jobs
SBIR Extension
Smart People

Join Our Mailing List


To Kepware on the expansion of their offices at 400 Congress Street in Portland. Fabulous design suitable for a magazine shoot!


To George Gervais on being sworn in as the latest Commissioner for Economic and Community Development. A smart guy that knows how to work the system, he will be a great asset to Maine companies.


To Biovations, who received the "Rising Star" Innovation Award from the Smaller Business Association of New England. This high-tech infection control product manufacturer is the first Maine company to receive the award since 1994.


To Cerahelix (the company formerly known as Zeomatrix), who has been selected from among 730 applicants to be a finalist in the 2011 Mass Challenge competition. Cerahelix is now focusing on a breakthrough technology in water purification and is one of Maine's leading Clean Tech companies and a Top Gun graduate.


If you want to be mentioned in this space, send me your news!


Does It Matter Where Smart People Are?

In short, yes. A new study from the folks at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) shows that scientific knowledge is very much embodied in individuals, and the flow of new information follows the scientist when he/she moves to a new location. That suggests that programs like the Georgia Research Alliance's Eminent Scholars that recruits top scientists to Georgia universities is likely to have contributed to Georgia's progress in academic research.


Similarly, a program we proposed nicknamed "Imminent Scholars" (sic) would have brought up and coming young scientists and engineers to Maine research institutions. These folks would have brought their new ideas, research dollars and students with them. If linked to Maine's emerging technology sectors, these new scholars would have accelerated our growth. 


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. 


96 Maine Street, Suite 183 Brunswick, ME 04011 207.522.9028