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IFTF Comments on Senate Bill for Science Park Grants and Loans

Respectfully submitted by Anthony Townsend
Research Director
Institute for the Future

The Future of Technology-led Economic Development

The American economy has long relied upon technological innovation to drive its economy. Today,basic investment in science and technology is once again taking center stage,as a cure for both our economic and environmental ills.

Research Parks A Beacon of Hope for Struggling City

The New York Times is running an interesting piece chronicling the poor fortune of Columbia, South Carolina, a metropolitan area that "came closer than any other to being a microcosm of the nation over the last decade".

The article goes on to recite the litany of poor economic indicators, but like all good human interest stories, offers a glimmer of hope towards the middle of the piece:

How Long Will the Winter Last for Corporate R&D?

The cash crunch is finally hitting the U.S. corporate innovation system head-on. Today's Wall Street Journal reports on a forthcoming study by the Battelle Memorial Institute that forecasts a 1.6 % fall in total U.S. R&D spending in 2009, after decades of faster-than-inflation increases. (link) It's not just the US, though - global R&D spending will faltten out in 2009.

The report is optimistic about the long-term outlook:

India Makes a Major R&D Push

In a major address last week in Bangalore, Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh announced a major expansion of funding for science research and infrastructure in India. As the SSTI weekly digest reported, "the country would form a quasi-independent panel modeled on the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) to promote research in science and engineering. The new National Science and Engineering Research Board (NSERB) would make decisions regarding research funding and the creation of research centers around India."

MIT and Harvard Leaders Make Policy Recommendations for the Next US President

Technology Review is running an article today
comprised of three letters to the next US president, suggesting policy
initiatives that they think are needed to address future challenges.

First up is Ernest J. Moniz, Director of The MIT Energy Initiative,
who argues for plans to develop a "portfolio of proven low-carbon
technologies". His specific proposals include:

Lurching Towards Open Science

Openness is rocking the scientific world. Accept it or proceed at your own risk. As an article last week in Nature points out: scientists are posting unprecedented amounts of experimental data online in “open notebooks”.

But wait.
Science in academia is becoming more closed, driven by regulatory shifts in how funding is tied to ownership of research products. As the New York Times reports:

Should America Create Innovation Zones to Spur R&D?

I spent the morning reading through a report released earlier this month by the Association of University Research Parks (AURP), titled “The Power of Place: A National Strategy for Building America’s Communities of Innovation”. AURP is industry association that represents several dozen leading research parks and real estate developers with strong connections to major universities in the US and Canada.

Using Patent Activity to Find Emerging R&D Hotspots

London-based consultancy Innovaro, whose monthly Innovation Update newsletter is one of my favorite sources of critical insight, published an article yesterday on "Global Innovation Hot Spots".

The article argues that while there are many qualitative and quantitative indicators that point to various up-and-coming hubs of innovation, patenting activity is a "primary and hence critical source of underlying foresight that can help guide R&D location priorities".

Corporate Incubation: Big Pharma's Bold Move

I've been meaning to write about this for a few months now, but the news this week about GlaxoSmithKline's cutbacks in internal R&D (I'll post something about this later in the week) brought me back to a March 2008 piece in Nature Biotechnology about the establishment of corporate biotech incubators at Biogen and Pfizer. (Nature Biotechnology, "Start-ups weigh benefits of corporate incubators", March 2008)

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