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Recent Impact Reports Offer Varied Approaches to TBED Assessment

February 13, 2008

One of the continuing challenges for TBED organizations is successfully documenting how their investments and activities influence the economic landscape of their states and regions. SSTI has selected a few recent state reports as examples of impact assessment, each identifying and utilizing certain measurements to help them tell their story. Their approaches may be of interest to other TBED organizations looking to gauge and share their impact with others.

A starting point for many organizations going down the road of impact analysis is determining what they should measure and why they should measure it. The Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development is an example of an organization looking into new ways to evaluate their TBED efforts, to complement the traditional economic development metrics they have used in the past. Measuring Up: Enhanced Metrics for a New Economy steps through Pennsylvania’s four focus areas of TBED activity (research and technology commercialization, company financing, business and technical assistance, workforce development and education) and identifies the metrics associated with the inputs, activities, population outcomes and economic outcomes for each. While this specific report does not provide any raw numbers or measurements over time, it uses a systematic approach to develop a foundation of metrics related to the state’s economic development priorities.


Some states take a portfolio-based approach to describing the efforts, as demonstrated by OCAST’s (the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology) 2008 Impact Report. For all of their individual initiatives, from the Oklahoma Nanotechnology Application Project to the Small Business Research Assistance and R&D Intern Partnerships programs, information is provided about the number of jobs created or clients served, the amount of non-state funding and economic impact on Oklahoma, and the average salary of those supported by OCAST programs. These values are then presented in aggregate, including measures of the numbers of patents filed and research papers published. In fiscal year 2007 for example, the average salary reported by OSCAT awardees was $46,329, about 44 percent higher than the state’s per capita income.


Other analyses examine one particular aspect of a state’s TBED efforts. Such is the case with Maryland Incubator Impact Analysis and Evaluation of Additional Incubator Capacity, a report conducted by the Maryland Technology Development Corporation (TEDCO) to explore the impact of the state’s existing 18 technology incubators and the potential for creating four new incubators. The analysis found there were 5,374 direct employees of the incubators’ tenants and graduates spread throughout 359 firms in 2006. This compares to between 2,900 and 3,700 employees and 125 firms in the state’s six incubators in 2001.


The research surveyed both incubator clients and graduates to determine the most important services offered by the incubators. Topping the list by a large margin was having affordable, functional space available. This was followed by access to mentors and guidance, individual business consulting, and connections to funding sources. Interestingly, the report also revealed skepticism from stakeholders associated with the incubators for creating “niche” incubators in the state, structured around areas such as alternative energy and regenerative medicine. Modeling software, used to calculate the number of jobs created in other sectors of the state’s economy because of the incubators, allowed estimates for aggregate salaries, contributions to the gross state product, and contributions to state and local taxes to be computed.


Measuring Up: Enhanced Metrics for a New Economy is available from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development at: http://www.newpa.com/default.aspx?id=55


OCAST’s 2008 Impact Report is available at: http://www.ocast.state.ok.us/Portals/0/docs/brochures/2008-ImpactReport.pdf


The executive summary of the Maryland Incubator Impact Analysis and Evaluation of Additional Incubator Capacity can be found at TEDCO’s website: http://www.marylandtedco.com/news/documents/ExecutiveSummary2_000.pdf