The report “The Geography of Innovation: The Federal Government and the Growth of Regional Innovation Clusters” by Jonathan Sallet, Ed Paisley and Justin R. Masterman focus on the importance of President Barack Obama’ s call for a new federal effort to support regional innovation clusters.
Regional innovation clusters are a critical component of national competitiveness. Geographic regions that are bound together by a network of shared advantages create virtuous cycles of innovation that succeed by emphasizing the key strengths of the local businesses, universities and other research and development institutions, and non-profit organizations. Information technology in Silicon Valley, music in Nashville, manufacturing in the Pacific Northwest, or life sciences in Massachusetts.
During his presidential campaign, Barack Obama explicitly called for the federal government to work with regional innovation centers. He explained that the federal government should “identify and build on regional assets to help strengthen not only urban and regional economies, but also bolster America’ s international competitiveness by helping our entrepreneurs better work collaboratively and synergistically in their fields.’ The president’ s proposal for the fiscal year 2010 budget, which begins on October first of this year, follows through on that pledge by seeking $100 million for the Economic Development Administration to support regional innovation clusters and associated business incubators. As Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke has explained, “the EDA will support economically distressed communities in their efforts to develop strategies for long-term growth with higher-skilled and higher-wage jobs
Once the funding is provided, an effective grants process must be designed and implemented that sends resources to places where they will have the most impact on advancing cluster strategies as defined and proposed by the applicant cluster. Examples include:
- Business incubators to encourage entrepreneurial activity and provide support for “graduates’ of incubators.
- Training programs at local colleges and universities.
- Technology-transfer initiatives for small and medium-sized companies.
- Workforce development programs within the community.
- Financing initiatives that provide otherwise unobtainable capital either to companies or collection of companies, for example, through research consortia such as SEMATECH or other creative ways to draw more angel, seed-stage and early-stage venture capital to a regional cluster.
Source: Science Progress
Report: The Geography of Innovation