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MA Lawmakers Pass Jobs Bill with $50M R&D Matching Grant Fund

August 01, 2012

A bill introduced less than three months ago to spur economic activity through high-impact university-industry R&D projects and provide tools for tech-based startup companies was passed with overwhelming support in the legislature. In addition to the matching fund, the bill includes funding to provide paid internships to startup technology companies and establishes an entrepreneur and startup venture capital mentoring program. Measures to address the state's skills gap and promote manufacturing competitiveness also are included.

The goal of the matching grant fund is to invest in high-growth areas with priority given to large-scale, long-term R&D activities that have the greatest potential to support science and technological innovation and job opportunities through industry partnerships. To this end, the state hopes to identify two or three technology areas that afford the best opportunity for a competitive global advantage and provide significant matching funds in response to federal solicitations for high-impact projects. The bill authorizes $25 million in new bond funding with another $25 million from previous bond authorization. Funds will be administered by the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative (MTC) — a public economic development agency — and awarded to projects sponsored by the University of Massachusetts, research universities and nonprofit research institutions.

In hopes of bringing more innovative technology companies to the state, the bill provides $2 million for support services to entrepreneurs offered through MTC. This includes $1 million to establish a talent pipeline program that provides paid internships to tech startups with a 1:1 matching requirement and $1 million for an entrepreneur and venture capital mentoring program. The program will provide assistance, mentoring and advice to startups and small businesses with venture capital financing in consultation with the Massachusetts Technology Development Corporation (MTDC) — now known as MassVentures. MTDC was formed more than three decades ago by the state as a quasi-public corporation.

To help promote manufacturing competitiveness, the bill calls for establishing an advanced manufacturing collaborative to develop and implement a statewide agenda identifying emerging priority areas and making recommendations for high-impact projects and initiatives. A manufacturing futures program also will be established to provide grants and loans for helping improve access to technical assistance for small- and mid-sized manufacturers, encouraging the adoption of new technologies, and fostering academic and industry collaboration, among other goals.

The bill also authorizes the transfer of $5 million from the general fund to a Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund to address the state's skills gap between workers and employers through partnerships between high-schools, vocational schools, community colleges, universities, employers and industry partners.

The bill, HB 4352 was introduced by House leaders in May (see the May 16, 2012 issue of the Digest) and awaits action by Gov. Deval Patrick.

Massachusettsworkforce, state tbed, higher ed, r&d