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Strengthening Innovation Capacity in Economically Under Performing Regions: Expanding Our National Innovation Capacity by Leveraging University Assets to Create Regional Innovation and Talent Hubs (RITH)

Strengthening Innovation Capacity in Economically Under Performing Regions: Expanding Our National Innovation Capacity by Leveraging University Assets to Create Regional Innovation and Talent Hubs (RITH)

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Published by PSUTRE
The Challenge: Economic growth and opportunity are distributed unequally. Many small industrial cities, rural communities, and certain areas within metropolitan regions are being left behind. Underperforming urban and rural regions suffer from stagnant job creation, lower paying jobs, eroding community assets, and the outmigration of their best talent.

The Solution: Expand the national innovation capacity by leveraging university research and development assets to create science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) oriented Regionally-Based Innovation and Talent Hubs (RITH).
The Challenge: Economic growth and opportunity are distributed unequally. Many small industrial cities, rural communities, and certain areas within metropolitan regions are being left behind. Underperforming urban and rural regions suffer from stagnant job creation, lower paying jobs, eroding community assets, and the outmigration of their best talent.

The Solution: Expand the national innovation capacity by leveraging university research and development assets to create science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) oriented Regionally-Based Innovation and Talent Hubs (RITH).

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Published by: PSUTRE on Feb 10, 2010
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1307 New York Avenue, N.W. Suite 400
Washington, DC 20005-4722
(202) 478-6040
Fax (202) 478-6046www.nasulgc.org
NASULGC
 
National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges
 
COLLABORATION TO STRENGTHEN INNOVATION CAPACITY INECONOMICALLY UNDERPERFORMING REGIONS:Expanding Our National Innovation Capacity by Leveraging University Assets to CreateRegional Innovation and Talent Hubs (RITH)National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant CollegesCommission on Innovation, Competitiveness, and Economic ProsperityCouncil on Engagement and OutreachThe Challenge:
Economic growth and opportunity are distributed unequally. Many smallindustrial cities, rural communities, and certain areas within metropolitan regions are being leftbehind. Underperforming urban and rural regions suffer from stagnant job creation, lowerpaying jobs, eroding community assets, and the outmigration of their best talent. At the heart of the regional opportunity imbalance are significant disparities in the infrastructure assets requiredfor innovation. Small and medium-sized employers, which are an economic mainstay, needgreater local access to innovation technologies and talent to remain competitive. Communitiesneed locally embedded, nationally and internationally engaged, institutional partners andfacilities to anchor redevelopment and be magnets for innovation and growth.
The Solution:
Expand the national innovation capacity by leveraging university research anddevelopment assets to create science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) orientedRegionally-Based Innovation and Talent Hubs (RITH). Universities are drivers of economicgrowth because they are creators and disseminators of knowledge, which can favorably impactregional economic conditions.
 
Universities connected to the local economies can be catalytic,driving research and innovation, and drawing talent to their geographic regions. We proposedeploying innovative funding vehicles to develop and advance alliances among the privatesector, local governments and research universities in economically underperforming regions toestablish economic anchors that lead to the creation of greater numbers of well-paying jobs,higher levels of educational and workforce preparation, and innovative, fast growing companies.Retaining talent and innovation in a region requires partnerships among universities, localities,and emergent industry sectors as evidenced by the early public strategies that supported privategrowth trajectories in Research Triangle, Silicon Valley, San Diego, Austin, Boston, and manyother areas.RITHs build on the expertise and capacity in higher education institutions by driving innovationcapabilities beyond the campus into economically underperforming regions. RITHs will providecontract research and development services to regionally-based small and medium-sizedcompanies; spin out new companies; anchor cluster development through applied, place-basedresearch; and integrate student experiences in business and industry into undergraduate andgraduate educational programs. RITH research and development activities will be conducted byuniversity-affiliated researchers, technicians, and graduate students who collectively willconstitute STEM talent hubs in the regions. By leveraging leading universities’ research
 
1307 New York Avenue, N.W. Suite 400
Washington, DC 20005-4722
(202) 478-6040
Fax (202) 478-6046www.nasulgc.org Page
2
This work is licensed under the Creative CommonsAttribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
programs, RITH communities will build innovation strategies from a base of institutionalcredibility and capacity. RITH programs will develop, attract and retain human capital, support job creation through the expansion of industries and local firms attracted by cost, knowledgeinfrastructure and human resource advantages, and expand community development effortsleading to improved quality of life in the region.
The Vehicle:
Create RITHs through a cooperative funding model which leverages state andregional investments against federal funds to develop a physical and intellectual innovationcenter core in underperforming regions. Direct the federal dollars into targeted regions, to beinvested by regional partnerships, as an incentive for university leadership to expand the nationalinnovation capacity. In this funding model, regions will contribute facilities, states willcontribute salary dollars for research personnel, and the federal government will contribute fundsfor up-fitting laboratories, procuring specialized equipment, and sustaining projects that createlong-term institutional relationships between regions, local business and industry, anduniversities.Funding would be contingent on the region establishing a partnership with a research universityto develop an innovation, research and development center that focuses on one or more targetedeconomic sectors that the region strategically develops to advance its competitiveness. Researchand development activities at these regional centers would be applied, translational and builtupon partnerships with local employers to strengthen economic clusters. Key sectors of innovation activity would include national priorities such as: clean energy, sustainable buildingsand food systems, advanced and sustainable manufacturing, information technology, nationalsecurity, transportation, space science, health, biotechnology, and nanotechnology.
Recommended Policy Measures for Implementation:
 1.
 
Create Innovative Places -
Commit $400M for a minimum of 50 research equipment and capacity building grants of up to $8M each
. Grants would be used to establishRITHs linked to strategic local industry sectors in qualifying regions and would matchfederal funds against state and local contributions.2.
 
Leverage Credible R & D Partners to Build Place-Based Applied ResearchCapacity
 Direct $250M annually to partnerships in underperforming regions todevelop applied and translational research and development projects
that supportsustainable institutional relationships between local business and industry, qualifiedregional innovation centers and universities. These grants will be spent within thequalified region to support research conducted by RITH personnel and university-basedfaculty. This research will be focused in sectors identified by the regional political andindustrial leadership as areas of opportunity, aligned with national innovation priorities,from which to build stronger business clusters.3.
 
Attract Human Capital and Connect STEM Talent to Business and Industry
-
Provide $50M annually for STEM talent attraction grants in qualifying regions toinitiate sustainable relationships between small and medium-sized employers and university students.
Grants would include matching funds from employers and could beused to establish internship and service-learning programs for undergraduates,assistantships for graduate students, and entry-level researcher appointments forpostdoctoral students.
 
1307 New York Avenue, N.W. Suite 400
Washington, DC 20005-4722
(202) 478-6040
Fax (202) 478-6046www.nasulgc.org Page
3
This work is licensed under the Creative CommonsAttribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
4.
 
Develop and Grow Innovative Businesses and Industries
-
Provide $100M annuallyin innovation grants to small and medium sized enterprises to procure universityresearch and development services through qualified regional innovation centers.
Fundgrants up to $50K per company in first round, up to $100K in 2nd round, and $250K in3rd round.5.
 
Strengthen Innovation Networks in Underperforming Regions
-
 Add an economicimpact requirement to new science and technology innovation funding (i.e. AmericaCompetes Act, Clean Energy, DOD, etc.) which particularly encourages universitygrantees to partner with economically challenged regions to grow new or strengthenexisting industry clusters.
Consider modeling this requirement after the NationalScience Foundation “broader impacts” criterion.
Qualifying Regions:
Qualifying regions would
 
meet the criteria for underperformingeconomic areas set by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) – or otherappropriate Federal agency - as determined by published standards applied to CensusBureau data. The criteria for qualifying regions would include micropolitan statisticalareas (to be defined) and underperforming parts of metropolitan regions.
Funding Model:
Federal program funding for RITHs will provide incentives for partnershipsand development of networks to link innovation centers with research university campuses,federal laboratories, and private research and development facilities in more established centersof innovation. The cooperative funding model links a federal funding stream to state and local jurisdiction funding as well as to private sector matching contributions.
Alignment:
The National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges’Commission on Innovation, Competitiveness, and Economic Prosperity (CICEP) and Council onEngagement and Outreach (CEO) believe that this “Collaboration to Strengthen InnovationCapacity in Economically Underperforming Regions” proposal aligns with key initiativessupported by CICEP and CEO, including: the Innovation Competitiveness and EconomicProsperity Toolkit, the Science and Math Teacher Imperative, and the Transformative RegionalEngagement Roundtable.In addition, CICEP and CEO believe that this “Collaboration to Strengthen Innovation Capacityin Economically Underperforming Regions” policy proposal is consistent with many strategicpolicy directions put forward by President-Elect Obama, including:1.
 
Supporting Regional Innovation Clusters in Metropolitan Regions2.
 
Creating a National Network of Public-Private Business Incubators3.
 
Investing in the Manufacturing Sector and Creating Five Million New Green Jobs4.
 
Doubling the Research Budgets of Key Science Agencies5.
 
Actively Encouraging Multidisciplinary Research and Education6.
 
Inspiring Americans to Excel in, and Embrace, Science and Engineering7.
 
Leveraging National Efforts and Encouraging State Collaboration to ImproveImplementation8.
 
Expanding and Improving STEM Education in Community Colleges9.
 
Expanding America’s Research Workforce10.
 
Doubling Funding for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership

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