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Tennessee Gov Proposes $10M for Research Consortium

March 16, 2011

Gov. Bill Haslam is the latest governor to unveil a broad-based proposal to grow the state's economy and create jobs through investments in S&T by asking lawmakers to dedicate $10 million for a research consortium that would recruit senior scientists to advance scientific discoveries into commercial applications and spur high-growth companies. Similar TBED efforts focused on investing in university research, tech commercialization, and increasing access to capital were announced earlier this year in Kansas, Maryland, Nebraska and Virginia (see the Jan. 5, Jan. 19 and Jan. 26 issues of the Digest). The governor's budget also provides funding to continue the state's investment in biofuels and aerospace engineering and recommends new funding to recruit businesses.

Funding for the Memphis Research Consortium would come from a one-time appropriation in the Education budget for the State University and Community College System. The consortium would facilitate collaboration in research, education, institutional strategy, and other medical field activities. Partners include the University of Memphis, University of Tennessee Health Science Center, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, and several private health care entities, reports The Commercial Appeal. Scientists working in the fields of genomics, population health and regenerative medicine would be targeted for recruitment.

Last year, Gov. Bredesen challenged the University of Memphis president to lead the university into the top 25 metropolitan research universities over the next decade (see the Feb. 17, 2010 issue of the Digest).

The Education budget also includes $5.3 million for the University of Tennessee (UT) System to provide for a fifth-year of non-recurring operational funds for the UT Biofuels Initiative. This is the final year of the initiative designed to advance and facilitate the development of a commercial biomass energy industry across the state. The Centers of Excellence program is slated to receive $17.3 million in FY12, down from $18.5 million last year, and $10.1 million is earmarked for the UT Space Institute, down from $11.7 million. The institute provides graduate study and research in aerospace engineering and related fields and assistance to private companies involved in aerospace engineering. UT Research Initiatives would receive $10.9 million, about the same as last year.

Within the Department of Economic and Community Development, the governor recommends $5.9 million (a 9.2 percent decrease) for Administrative Services, which includes funding for the Tennessee Technology Development Corporation, a legislatively created nonprofit organization charged with promoting in-state technology development and recruitment of high-tech industries. Level funding of $5.3 million is included for the Tennessee Job Skills program, a workforce development incentive program that provides grants to retain high-wage jobs in technology and manufacturing fields. Gov. Haslam also recommends a one-time appropriation of $10.5 million as part of a jobs package intended to recruit new businesses and support workforce training initiatives.

The $30.2 billion spending plan for FY12 is available at: http://www.tn.gov/finance/bud/bud1112/12Publications.html

Tennesseer&d, state tbed, state budget, workforce, higher ed