SSTI Digest

The latest reporting and analysis on breakthroughs in technology-based economic development research and issues that matter most to you. To receive the SSTI Weekly Digest via email, sign up here.

Geography: Washington

State Strategic Plans Focus on Supporting S&T in Key Sectors

In an era of tightening fiscal constraints, states have to make tough decisions, establish clear economic development funding priorities and transform their economic development models to take advantage of immediate opportunities and position their state for long-term economic growth. Mississippi, Oklahoma and Washington have released state-specific strategic plans that make those tough decisions by focusing their resources on key science & technology (S&T) areas to address the economic impacts of the Great Recession and position the state for future prosperity. Each strategic plan also calls for state government to engage the private sector to build partnerships that will help reduce costs and increase impacts.

Voters Reject Tax Increases, Back Bonds for Higher Ed

While election night's main focus was on the presidential race, the importance of ballot measures for states and metros is growing as public services and budgets are being severely trimmed. A recent article in The New Republic reports on a new trend where states are embracing ballot measures as a potential source of dedicated funds for targeted investments in regional economic growth and development.

$20M Awarded to 10 Public-Private Regional Partnerships Geared towards Advanced Manufacturing Initiatives

The Obama administration announced winners of the Advanced Manufacturing Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge on Tuesday. The challenge — publicized earlier this year — is one of the key initiatives of the interagency Taskforce for the Advancement of Regional Innovation Clusters and is sponsored by a partnership between the U.S. Department of Commerce, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the Departments of Energy and Labor, and the Small Business Administration. Winners include programs in AZ, CA, MI, OK, TN, NY, PA, and a WA and OR bi-state partnership, each receiving approximately $2 million in grants. See the complete list of challenge winners and their reward amounts here. This is the third in a series of multiagency Jobs and Innovation Accelerator challenges administered since 2011. Learn more...

TBED and the 2012 Ballots

Voters in 37 states will decide on more than 170 ballot measures this year, many of which are related to tech-based economic development (TBED). Tax measures seem to be dominating ballots this year, with questions relating to both decreases and increases for sales, property and income taxes. Several states are counting on voters to agree to temporary increases to help fill budget deficits and ensure steady funding for education.

Gubernatorial Candidates Make the Case for TBED

On November 6, in addition to the presidential election, eleven state and two territorial gubernatorial contests will be decided. Seven of these races (Delaware, Missouri, North Dakota, Puerto Rico, Utah, Vermont, and West Virginia) include a sitting governor running for re-election, while the remaining six (American Samoa, Indiana, Montana, New Hampshire, North Carolina and Washington) are open races.

WA Legislature Dedicates Funds to Prepare Workers for Aerospace Jobs

The 2012 supplemental budget approved by Washington lawmakers includes funding for initiatives aimed at establishing a skilled workforce, enhancing competitiveness of existing industries and supporting university research to grow a strong aerospace cluster. The funding is part of a $9.8 million plan proposed by Gov. Chris Gregoire last year to enhance the state's education system in anticipation of new jobs in the aerospace sector (see the issue of the Nov. 16, 2011 issue of the Digest). To pursue joint industry-university research that can be used in aerospace firms, lawmakers passed a bill (SB 5982) creating the Center for Aerospace Technology and Innovation. The center will be operated as a multi-institutional education and research center under the authority of the University of Washington (UW) and Washington State University. A board appointed by the governor is charged with recruiting researchers, assisting researchers and firms in guarding intellectual property and developing non-state support for research. The center also will work with aerospace firms to identify research needs and opportunities for technology transfer. The supplemental budget approved by lawmakers includes $1.5 million for UW and $65,000 for Innovate Washington (IW) in support of the center. IW's role is to nurture the spin off ideas, companies, and amplify the connections necessary for the center to be successful. In addition to supporting aerospace-related research, the governor's plan focuses on developing a pipeline of skilled workers through high school-to-postsecondary education and training. Three grant programs aimed at preparing students for careers in STEM and aerospace were approved under HB 2159 during the regular session. Funding in support of the initiatives ($700,000 total) was included in the recently approved supplemental budget detailed below. $300,000 for 12 high schools to implement an aerospace assembler program to train students for entry-level careers in the field; $250,000 for advanced Project Lead the Way courses at 10 high schools; and $150,000 for aerospace and manufacturing technical programs housed at two skill centers. The budget also includes $3.8 million each for UW and Washington State University to expand engineering enrollment in FY13. Last month, Gov. Gregoire appointed Alex Pietsch to head the new Governor's Aerospace Office, which is responsible for coordinating the various state agency efforts to support the industry. The 2012 supplemental budget bill is available at:

State of Washington Commits $5M to New $25M Investment Fund

The state of Washington's Governor Chris Gregoire announced the state will contribute $5 million to the W Fund, a new $25 million investment fund intended to spin more startups out of research labs at the University of Washington, Washington State University and other state research institutions. Administered by the Washington State Department of Commerce, key growth sectors targeted by the W Fund include biotech and clean tech. The fund intends to start considering investments in early 2012. Read the Governor's press release...

WA Gov's $9.8M Workforce Plan Supports University Research, Engineering Grads

Gov. Chris Gregoire outlined a series of proposals to boost Washington's competitiveness in the aerospace sector, including support for university research and funding to expand high school workforce curriculum and enroll more university students in engineering fields. By investing in education, research, and expanding tax incentives, Gov. Gregoire hopes Boeing will select the state to build and manufacture its 737 MAX, which the governor calls a once-in-a-generation opportunity expected to support up to 20,000 jobs. The $9.8 million plan centers on enhancements to the state's education system to ensure a prepared and skilled workforce. Proposals include:

NSF Awards $74M for Engineering Research Centers

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has announced that it will award $74 million total for the creation of four interdisciplinary research and education centers as part of the third generation of NSF Engineering Research Centers. In addition to their primary focus on commercialization and education, these centers will emphasize innovation, entrepreneurship, small business collaboration, and international partnerships. For the first time, two of the ERCs will be co-funded by the Department of Energy. One, led by Arizona State University, will investigate quantum energy and sustainable solar technologies. A second at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville will develop more reliable and efficient electricity transmission networks. The other two ERCs will focus on research into urban water infrastructure and mind-machine interface at Stanford University and the University of Washington, respectively.

Higher Ed Tuition Hikes Nearing Double Digits in Some States

As the cost of a college education continues to rise and good paying jobs are seemingly scarcer than ever before, many Americans are questioning the value of a college degree. A recent survey from the Pew Research Center found 57 percent of Americans believe the U.S. fails to provide good value for the money students and their families spend, and about four in ten college presidents say the system is headed in the wrong direction. At the same time, however, studies find the lifetime earnings of college graduates to be much higher than those of high school graduates. Further, students majoring in engineering, computers and mathematics can expect to make more money than any other undergraduate major.

Two Long-standing TBED Organizations Joined to "Innovate Washington"

Created as the successor to two longstanding and accomplished tech-based economic development organizations — the Washington Technology Center (WTC) and the Spokane Intercollegiate Research and Technology Institute (SIRTI) — Innovate Washington will serve as the state's primary agency responding to tech transfer needs and strengthening university-industry partnerships. Innovate Washington also will coordinate the state's clean energy initiatives.

Tech Talkin' Govs, Part II

The second installment of SSTI's Tech Talkin' Govs' series includes excerpts from speeches delivered in Arkansas, Connecticut, Idaho, Kansas, New Hampshire, Virginia, Washington, and Wyoming. Our first installment was in the Jan. 5 Digest.