SSTI Digest

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Geography: Washington

NGA Launches Pilot Program in Six States to Prepare Teens, Millennials for Middle-Skill, STEM Careers

The National Governors Association’s (NGA) Center for Best Practices launched the 2016 Policy Academy on Scaling Work-Based Learning – a pilot program in six states that blends work experience and applied learning to develop youth and young adults’ foundational and technical skills to expand their education, career and employment opportunities. The goal of the program is to connect 16- to 29-year-olds with middle-skills career opportunities in STEM-intensive industries such as advanced manufacturing, health care, information technology and energy. The six states that will take part in the 18-month pilot program include Indiana, Iowa, Montana, New Hampshire, Utah, and Washington.  Read the press release:

Tech Talkin’ Govs: Energy, Workforce Initiatives Prominently Featured in Gubernatorial Addresses

SSTI's Tech Talkin' Govs series has returned as governors across the country formally convene the 2015 legislative sessions. The series highlights new and expanded TBED proposals from governors' State of the State, Budget and Inaugural addresses.

Universities, Public-Private Partners Launch Commercialization Funds in IN, LA, PA, WA

Purdue University, the University City Science Center, and Washington State University announced the creation of new investment funds to support the growth of university-affiliated startups in their respective communities. These three recently announced commercialization funds all share a common trend – they will be managed or assisted in the management process via public-private partnerships. In Baton Rouge, LA, the Research Park Corporation also announced the creation of a fund to assist Louisiana State University researchers compete for commercialization funding from the university.

States Shift Priorities Toward Long-Term Research Capacity Building

This article is part of SSTI's series on trends in state technology-based economic development legislation in 2014. Read our other entries covering legislative action on patent reformcapital & tax credits, technology commercialization & infrastructureworkforce & STEM and manufacturing & clusters.

WA Life Sciences Community Steps up to Help Save Grant Fund

Pointing to the growth potential in jobs and health within the life sciences industry sector, Gov. Jay Inslee vetoed a $20 million cut in funding to the nine-year-old Life Sciences Discovery Fund (LSDF), allowing the fund to honor existing commitments and proceed with the 2013-14 Proof of Concept grant program and Entrepreneur Mentoring grant program. The state’s budget director David Schumacher said the sheer volume of letters from biotech companies in support of saving the fund carried weight in the governor’s decision, reports The Olympian.

TBED People & Orgs

Maria Contreras-Sweet has been confirmed as the administrator of the Small Business Administration.

States Pass Innovation-Focused Legislation

Investments and policy to support innovation-focused agendas have flourished with the close of the 2014 legislative sessions in several states. Crowdfunding legislation, incentives for attracting talent, higher education affordability, punishing patent trolls, and encouraging greater accountability are some of the areas where lawmakers focused their efforts.

WA Legislature Dismantles Longstanding TBED Initiative, Reduces Funds for Research

Just three years ago, lawmakers in Washington put into place a research and commercialization initiative designed as a public-private model to build on the work of two longstanding agencies and better serve the state’s innovation community. The program, Innovate Washington, was eliminated in the legislature during the 2014 session with the passage of HB 2029 and its responsibilities transferred to the state’s Department of Commerce. Funding to support research grants under the Life Sciences Discovery Fund is reduced in the supplemental budget agreement passed by lawmakers.

More Funding for Higher Ed, STEM in State Budget Plans

As the outlook for general revenue funds improves in many states, governors are looking to boost investment in higher education and STEM as a means for growing the economy and enhancing the workforce. Universities' economic return to states can be quite impactful. A recent study commissioned by the Presidents Council, State Universities of Michigan, found the state's 15 public universities have a $23.9 billion economic footprint — collectively supporting more than $12 billion in earnings in 2012. Governors in Alaska, Missouri, Utah, Virginia, and Washington recently unveiled budget recommendations for the upcoming fiscal year or biennium calling for additional funds to support university-based initiatives including research, infrastructure, tuition freezes, and funding to graduate more students in STEM fields.

Universities in MN, WA Post Impressive Gains in Spinoffs

A recent report by the Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM) dubbed American universities the “unsung heroes in the economic recovery.” Through licensing and startup activity, universities and other groups earned more than $2.6 billion total income from royalties and other sources in FY12 alone, according to the report highlights. Research universities often garner more attention for their role in product and company development. Such is the case at the University of Washington and University of Minnesota, where officials posted a record number of spinoffs from university technology over the past year.

STEM at the Forefront of States’ Education Policy

States across the U.S. are directing their attention to science, technology, education and technology (STEM) education, and already have passed a plethora of new initiatives in the current legislative session.  These programs are directed at various levels of education including primary education and higher education, with one program specifically designated for the state’s community colleges. A number of states have created STEM advisory councils under the governors’ offices, following the lead of Iowa and Massachusetts. Such measures suggest that STEM is no fleeting policy issue and that states are beginning to recognize the economic value of making long-term investments in students.

Lawmakers Move to Support Workforce Training, Strengthen Industry Clusters

At the close of many recent legislative sessions, states across the country moved to strengthen their high-tech workforce while supporting industry cluster development.