After nearly a year of deliberation, the Governor’s Council on Innovation and Technology yesterday revealed a series of proposals designed to improve Arizona’s knowledge-based, high-tech economy. The recommendations focus on improvements in three key areas: capital formation, commercialization of university technology, and augmentation of technology business infrastructure.
A key step in commercializing university technology has already been approved by both Governor Napolitano and the Legislature, and will be sent to the voters in the form of a constitutional amendment on the November 2004 ballot. The amendment will make it possible for universities to take stock in small companies licensing university-created inventions.
Several recommendations, particularly those dealing with capital formation, would have a strong bearing on the biosciences and biotechnology. The council’s capital formation committee worked closely with leaders carrying forth Arizona’s Bioscience Roadmap, the state’s long-term biosciences strategy.
Suggestions for improving capital investment include creating a $100 million “fund of funds” to provide venture capital to startup companies; setting up tax credits to reward investors in early-stage tech companies and attract out-of-state investors; strengthening the Arizona Department of Commerce; and setting up a strategic investment board to manage investments and provide public accountability.
The panel also proposed increasing the inflow of federal research dollars by installing a state office in Washington, D.C., and pursuing the establishment of a federal research lab in Arizona.
Governor Napolitano, quoted in the Arizona Daily Star, said that supporters of the “fund of funds” will need to make it clear that the state money will be used solely as security, and that other states with similar funds have not had to draw from public money.
“What we’re talking about is a public-private partnership that doesn’t require a single dollar of state money,” she said.
To expand Arizona’s technology business infrastructure, the panel recommended building on the state core competencies, including aerospace, semiconductors, electronics, optics, computer modeling, chemistry, materials, space sciences, ecological sciences, and plant and agricultural studies.
The findings of the gubernatorial panel–composed of 31 high-tech executives, business leaders, state lawmakers, and representatives from academia–provide a basis upon which Napolitano will build a technology agenda. She will present this at the Governor’s Technology Summit on Feb. 10 forum at the Hyatt Regency Phoenix.
For more information:
“High-Tech Harvest,” Editorial, Arizona Republic, 12/24/2003
“High-tech unveils Arizona plan,” Arizona Republic, 12/19/2003
“Turning Arizona into a technology powerhouse,” East Valley Tribune, 12/19/2003
“Plan is laid out to aid high tech,” Arizona Daily Star, 12/19/2003
Napolitano creates state tech council, 01/31/2003
State-of-State address touts high-tech plans, 01/13/2003