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Pennsylvania faces challenges, but has assets in innovation

August 15, 2019

An early national leader in technology-based economic development (TBED), Pennsylvania now faces several challenges in order to keep up with other states and regions, according to Ideas for Pennsylvania Innovation: Examining Efforts by Competitor States and National Leaders, a new report from the Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings. It cites the Ben Franklin Technology Partnership as an important early-stage investor and national TBED model and notes that the state “has historically been an innovation leader and Pennsylvania retains a stable of effective, scalable innovation assets.            

The Brookings report found, however, that Pennsylvania has cut back on public investment in recent years and lacks a comprehensive statewide innovation strategy, while other states have forged ahead with more proactive programs as competition increases. The report outlines 20 initiatives other states and national leaders are implementing to solve the competitive challenges that Pennsylvania faces, and recommends four policy initiatives for the Keystone State: A statewide evidence-based innovation strategy; strengthening business R&D; investment in early-stage financing; mitigating significant spatial divergence.            

The report concludes that with “a renewed commitment to inclusive innovation-oriented economic development, the commonwealth can chart a new course that bolsters economic growth and improves the living standards of its citizens throughout the state.” Ben Franklin Technology Partners and the Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority could “serve as a central node for coordinating innovation strategy across the state.”

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