Georgia Plan, Budget Support Efforts to Enhance Research Capacity

February 01, 2012

A survey of Georgia's 12 regions finds collaboration and leveraging assets to support existing businesses are most critical for enhancing the innovation economy. In support of these efforts, a task force convened by Gov. Nathan Deal recommends increasing funds for the Georgia Research Alliance (GRA), extending the state's angel investor tax credit, and marketing the state to promote its research and innovation assets. Gov. Deal unveiled last week the findings of the Georgia Competitiveness Initiative, led by a group of business leaders and government officials tasked with identifying regional and statewide factors affecting the state's competitiveness. The initiative centered on six areas, including Business Climate, Education and Workforce Development, Innovation, Infrastructure, Global Commerce, and Government Efficiency and Effectiveness. Among the strategies for investing in innovation is continued support and expansion of GRA — namely an increase in funds for the Eminent Scholars program, which matches university funds for recruiting world-class researchers to the state. Gov. Deal's FY13 budget boosts GRA funding within the Department of Economic Development by $1.5 million to recruit two new scholars who typically bring research teams and additional private and federal research funds. GRA would receive $14 million in state funding under the governor's proposal, which is up from about $7.5 million last year (see the May 25, 2011 issue of the Digest). GRA also will manage the Georgia Cancer Coalition, which previously operated as an independent nonprofit organization. The coalition is primarily funded by the state's tobacco settlement and would receive $6.8 million in FY13 under the governor's proposal. Additional recommendations include extending the Angel Investor Tax Credit by five years to 2018, capitalizing on state assets to promote economic development in rural parts of the state, and developing a marketing campaign to promote the state's research and innovation assets. The report is available at: Gov. Deal's budget for FY13 also includes $5 million for cancer-related research at Georgia Health Sciences University. The funding would be used to hire research faculty and provide for equipment and infrastructure enhancements.