PEW Foundation has a new study on state investment strategies regarding innovation.
Investing billions of dollars in everything from nanotechnology to health care and agricultural science R&D funds are being used by states as diverse as New York, Minnesota, Florida, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Georgia and Arizona. California alone has committed $3 billion to a 10-year investment in stem-cell research.
One of the findings is that we have seen a rise in average investments from a few million to more than a hundred million a year in such projects (Biotech, stem cell, telecom, etc). Another interesting factoroid, 52 of 57 major telecom initiatives were located outside the United States. Georgia’s own Center for Advanced Telecommunications Technologies has been demoted to a policy center. No significant state monies have been invested in telecommunications since 2001, although a few million are in play to incentivize communities to build wireless networks.
States can do more than just invest, they can also make sure to use research produced by state dollars within state projects. Example:
A Georgia company, Lifespan Technologies, developed at Georgia Tech in 1993 commercializing technology designed to monitor bridges. That company has succeeded in marketing its product in many places, but only recently, and after some political intervention, were they able to get a pilot project here in Georgia. Some 14 years after their start!
Another firm, ReachMd Consult, grew out of technology developed at the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta. Despite piloting in 5 Georgia rural hospitals, there has been no action by the state to roll this technology out. However, New York is actively promoting this system as a means of managing potential brain damage from stroke.
These are just two examples. I am sure there are more. State procurement laws make it easier for more established companies to do business with the state. State budget cycles add 1-2 years to the time an idea achieves status as “doable” and funding is arranged via the legislative process. In a state where attention is focused on insuring that the state taxpayer gets the proper return on their investment, we should make it easier for intellectual property developed here to start and flourish here.