This is the third in a series of three articles on workforce development and quality jobs - with a focus on state and regional support for bioscience industry development. Read part one. Read part two.
By Peter M. Pellerito, BIO Senior Policy Consultant ;
George Goodno, BIO Director, State Policy Communications
State governments in 2011 continued to see regional economic growth in the life sciences industry and in 2012 will increasingly focus attention on technology transfer and venture funding as mechanisms to increase private sector innovation related activities within their jurisdictions. Realizing that entrepreneurship is a key ingredient in economic development, states and localities are undertaking the support of programs that assist high technology businesses, and that capitalize on state regional presence of universities and federal laboratories.
Once research yields a new discovery from a university or federal laboratory, there is still a great deal of work in creating a company and funding that research before the technology can be incorporated into the marketplace. The following are state legislative examples of ways industry, universities, and policymakers are creating essential building blocks for bioscience industry growth in company creation and capital for success.
"Forty years of state government involvement and experience in science and technology and technology-based economic development have had considerable impact on the policies and practice of state economic development."
Walter H. Plosila, Battelle Memorial Institute
Economic Development Quarterly, May 2004
State Legislative Strategies
Forty-two states now support programs that provide commercialization assistance to technology companies in an effort to more smoothly transition invention into innovation in the marketplace.
The State of Washington has earmarked a portion of its tobacco settlement dollars to fund bioscience R&D through the $350 million Life Sciences Discovery Fund (SB 5581), and in 2006 began allocating $35 million annually to research projects with economic development potential, including recruitment and facility enhancements. The state projects to leverage $1 billion in additional external research funding over its 10-year lifetime and create 20,000 jobs with about 15 years. The fund adopts a broad definition of the life sciences, encompassing biotech, pharmaceuticals, biomedical technologies, life system technologies, nutraceuticals, food processing, environmental and biomedical devices. It is governed by an 11-member board of trustees that evaluates grants for their potential health-care impact, future employment impact, and geographic diversity. A 2-1 match from external sources is required.
CONNECT of San Diego, California, designed to link entrepreneurs with critical resources for success, provides networking opportunities as well as expertise to San Diego’s technology-based firms. Through the use of partnerships with the region’s industry-specific organizations and individuals, CONNECT since 1985 has assisted entrepreneurs and biosciences companies to commercialize ideas, patents and other opportunities surrounding university or private research institute R&D efforts.
CONNECT’s initiatives include Springboard to assist aspiring entrepreneurs in transforming their business visions into reality: CEO CONNECT provides intimate peer group interaction to learn from and teach each other. CONNECT Entrepreneurs’ Roundtable, a monthly program designed for capital providers, CEOs, and presidents of San Diego-based early stage companies to nurture high technology start-ups.
The Texas Emerging Technology Fund was created by House Bill 1765 in an effort to speed up the process of commercialization within the state and create jobs and new companies in Texas from technology created in Texas institutions of higher education. The Fund is designed to boost eligible industries which will lead to the creation of high-quality new jobs in Texas and/or medical or scientific breakthroughs and includes biotechnology and the life sciences.
One quarter of the Fund is dedicated to recruiting sought-after, top research talent to the state along with their team, patents, and portfolio of potential emerging technologies. Another quarter of the Fund is to be used as matching grants to help draw down federal dollars and help push a technology through the commercialization phase.
The remaining one-half of the Fund is used by Regional Centers of Innovation and Commercialization (RCICs) to foster collaboration on emerging technologies between public and private entities and institutions of higher education. The legislation also contains provisions for failure to meet contract obligations or misuse of any grant money, and the amount given to the Texas Emerging Technology Fund is up for review each biennium and is subject to legislators’ discretion.