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Transforming Regional Economies: The Essence of Tech-Based Economic Development

September 05, 2007

Incubators and accelerators. Angel, seed and venture capital. Research parks. University and industry research. Technology licensing and commercialization. Entrepreneurship assistance. R&D tax credits. Technology workforce development. Regional technology councils. Manufacturing extension. Science and technology advisers.

While all have specific functions, collectively, when supported by public funds, these activities are working toward a single goal of transforming a regional economy to be more competitive in the knowledge-driven global market for innovation and growth.

These are not the same components used for conventional economic development approaches that strive to improve or maintain economic vitality of a geographic area. Technology-Based Economic Development (TBED) is driven to improve the standard of living of the residents and businesses of an area while simultaneously increasing their capacity to generate new opportunities for wealth creation into the future through targeted strategies and investments focused on encouraging a combination of knowledge, innovation, and entrepreneurship.

How well TBED programs work together depends on many variables. Not the least important is the degree to which they embrace concepts of cooperation, partnership, integration and unity in vision. Often, this shared interest for transforming the local or state economy gets lost in petty turf issues, lack of community leadership, overlapping services, isolation, battles for limited financial resources, political power struggles, and competing needs for recognition or public credit. The full economic benefit or impact of public investments to encourage growth through science and technology can remain unrealized as a result. SSTI knows, sadly, that the majority of Digest readers will be able to think of at least one segment of their own local, regional or state strategy that suffers from these types of problems.

Fortunately, there is a solution.

There is a single place, a single event, a single phenomenon even, each year at which the leadership and staff from the complete spectrum of programs and practices dedicated to transforming regional economies share common experiences, insights and approaches. During much of the year they may be dedicated to their specific function or role or "silo" of TBED, but collectively they form a national community dedicated to advancing innovation-based economic growth. For a few days this fall, most of the top 350-375 TBED practitioners and policymakers will convene in Baltimore to improve the ability of each participant to positively transform their regional economies through science and technology, R&D, innovation and entrepreneurship.

The event is SSTI's 11th annual conference. The dates are Oct. 18-19. The place is the beautiful Renaissance Baltimore Harborplace Hotel. The participants will be drawn from the full spectrum of the TBED practice from across the country — last year, TBED leaders from 46 states were present. It is the only event that draws such a wide cross-section of the TBED community and, as a result, provides the premiere professional development opportunity of the year for launching, re-energizing or improving the TBED talents of your state, region, university or locality.

We invite you to join your peers at this special event. Attendance will be limited to ensure the high quality of interaction, dialogue and community past participants have grown to expect from SSTI's annual conference. This one will sell out so please register early.

More information, including a registration form, is available at: http://www.ssticonference.org/