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Maine Studying Impact of Public R&D Investment

November 02, 2001

Nearly every state legislature annually appropriates some level of funding to support research and development activities in the state's nonprofit, university, and industrial research communities. Few, though, have developed long-term, systematic attempts to measure the impact of those investments. Following a nearly ten-fold increase in the state's investment in research and development over the past six years, Maine legislators requested that the Maine Science & Technology Foundation (MSTF) conduct such an impact assessment.

MSTF has until July 2006 to answer three questions posed by the state legislature:

  • How competitive is Maine's sponsored R&D and has it improved over time?
  • What is the impact of Maine's R&D investment on the development of Maine's R&D industry?
  • What is the impact of Maine's R&D investment on the level of innovation and innovation-based economic development?

Last week, MSTF released a report for the initial phase of the project. The study, prepared by researchers from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and Pennsylvania State University, provides suggestions for an analytical framework to conduct the five-year assessment as well as an initial evaluation of the state's R&D support. The appendices include five case studies examining five of the larger R&D investments the state has made recently in the Maine Technology Institute, advanced engineered wood composites, biomedical research, aquaculture, and the small enterprise growth fund.

The review team commends Maine for the comprehensive package of public programs implemented to foster R&D investment and technology commercialization, but also makes recommendations for further enhancements. Recommendations for improvement included: strengthening linkages among state programs and existing industry clusters; improving marketing and outreach efforts among the private tech community; and, facilitating commercialization of technologies resulting from university-based research.

The full report can be downloaded from the MSTF website: http://www.mstf.org