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Notes from Innovation Policyworks
Our new study, Maine Knowledge Economy: A Snapshot of 2017 shows an increase in the relative importance of the state's technology sectors, but also a corresponding lack of progress in the state's economic competitiveness overall. All of the seven targeted technology sectors designated back in 1999 except forestry exceeded Maine's economy as a whole over the last decade. As predicted, those sectors with high science and engineering content, even those with a natural resources connection such as agriculture and aquaculture, have thrived.
On the other hand, when compared to the other New England states, this growth is not robust. Maine continues to lag in the percentage of firms and employment that are "high technology" compared to our neighbors. The percentage of our jobs that are science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM), is lower than our neighbors, contributing to our lower per capita income.

Read more HERE or go to the REPORT.


Maine's employment in "high-tech" firms remains below the other New England states....that's the dark blue line at the bottom! The red line at the top is MA. Surprise, surprise! 

Measuring The Digital Divide in the US
Early attempts to measure the digital divide in the US, the difference between the haves and the have-nots, focused solely on broadband infrastructure. A new report by the Purdue University Center for Regional Development uses an index consisting of both broadband infrastructure/adoption and socioeconomic characteristics known to impact technology adoption. They found that 4.3% of Americans resided in counties where the digital divide was higher, and of these, 57.7% lived in rural counties. This had a huge impact on workforce: the counties with the highest divide lost total and prime working age population between 2010 and 2015. Read the whole report and visit the maps HERE.

Workforce Training for Today's Workers
Lots of people are worried that the coming artificial intelligence and robotics technologies will severely impact many workers, disrupting labor markets and generating mass unemployment. As a result, policies have been proposed to slow technology adoption and implement universal basic income schemes. There is no question that there will be some winners and losers as these new technologies come on line - there have always been winners and losers with every wave of new technology. The real opportunity is to help workers that could be or are negatively impacted adjust to the new realities, focusing on helping dislocated workers make speedy and successful transitions with a flexible re-employment system, including a commitment to skills development. Read more HERE and HERE.

Georgia Research Alliance Facilitates New Agreement to Share Core Facilities
When visiting research universities, I am typically shown a wide variety of laboratories called core facilities that are available to faculty and researchers within that institution. But rarely can researchers from the college or university across town access these expensive and highly specialized pieces of equipment because of administrative barriers. 

So, a new agreement among eight Georgia universities to share the core research facilities at each of their institutions at the same rates and terms offered to internal facility users is a huge accomplishment. The aim of the agreement is to create a greater availability of research support services, minimize duplication and to expand collaborative opportunities. Georgia Research Alliance President, Mike Cassidy, notes, "This is an ideal opportunity to enhance team science while increasing research efficiency and saving time and money." Read MORE.

Companies and Universities Both Benefit from Collaborations
Kenneth Lutchen's HBR article on company/university collaborations focuses on the benefits derived to both parties when the relationship is a long-term cooperative one, rather than a series of transactions. He suggests that there are several steps to achieving this goal:
  1. Locate the company's R&D near the talent. It's easier to tap into the ecosystem if you are co-located.
  2. Seed early-stage research. Fund the early work, rather than just monitoring what's going on in university labs.
  3. Cultivate institutions, not just individuals. This means developing a long-term framework for collaborating, including up-front agreements about licensing any resulting intellectual property.
  4. Look beyond the usual suspects. There are 107 colleges and universities engaging in the highest level of research activity. You don't have to confine yourself to just to top schools.
  5. Find common ground in non-disclosure. Companies need to be specific about what they want to keep confidential and not be too broad, while faculty need to appreciate the need for competitive advantage.
  6. Develop more flexible patent licensing. Universities need to recognize that the technology they have developed is probably not a product, while companies need to understand the value of the underlying technology. New models such as giving the company royalty-free exclusive patent rights and paying royalties or specified lump sums based on revenues can help the process along.
  7. Renegotiate in good faith. Don't let a long-term relationship be spoiled by a single contentious transaction.
  8. Bridge the cultural divide. Companies aren't like universities and vice versa, but understanding how both types of organizations are becoming like the other will help.
Read the whole article HERE.

The Growing Idea that Big Tech is Bad
It seems like a daily occurrence: yet another technology company is named in an incident that impacts information about millions of Americans. Whether it's Facebook or Google or Yahoo, we're confronted with the reality that the technology companies that are the darlings of Silicon Valley are also the holders of unimaginable amounts of personal data about each of us.
All of this is taking place amidst of another, less obvious trend - mergers and acquisitions leading to a less competitive economy. A Brookings Report points out that in 1954, the top 60 firms in the country accounted for less than 20 percent of GDP. Now, the top 20 firms account for more than 20 percent. 

And, over the last two decades, over 75 percent of US industries have seen an increase in concentration. Google, for instance, has purchased over 120 firms in the past ten years. Only five firms publish over 2/3 of all books in the US. Two breweries control 80 percent of the domestic beer market. The ten largest banks in the country control 54% of all assets.
Brookings calls for a new antitrust regime; others are dragging Big Tech in front of Congress. ( HERE) Esquire just published an article calling for the big 4 - Amazon, Facebook, Google and Apple - to be broken up. ( HERE) Whew!

In This Issue - March 2018

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Quote of the Month 
" Only when the tide goes out do you discover who's been swimming naked."
Warren Buffett

Innovation Spark of the Month
Aflac turned its famous duck brand mascot into an internet-connected robot that comforts kids with cancer. Aflac will be distributing the ducks to clinics across the us in Q4, for free.

Trend-Watching notes that this is a great example of an organization aligning their philanthropic efforts with the wider brand. 

How can your organization become a servant to people's basic needs?

"This is Nuts!"
Dr. Richard Florida, author of The Rise of the Creative Class and The New Urban Crisis, discusses his views on the Amazon HQ2 process and suggests that the top competitors should form a "non-aggression pact." To date, 16,036 leaders have signed onto his petition. Listen to the podcast HERE and sign on yourself HERE.

High School is no Longer Enough
Anthony Carnevale, Director of Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce, says, "It is clear that high school degrees no longer provide enough general or career-specific education to prepare young people for good jobs." According to his research, half of young adults are failing to successfully launch their careers. Good jobs that only require a high school education, such as in blue-collar fields and the military, have declined, while the jobs that have taken their place in fields like health care and information technology require more than a high school education. Carnevale argues for more career and technical training (CTE) HERE.

Metrics for Entrepreneurship Programs
Have you been wondering how to convince your stakeholders that your program is performing well? My book on evaluating entrepreneurial programs, written for the International Business Innovation Association (iNBIA), is available on its website. The basics apply to any economic development program. Check it out HERE.

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135 Maine Street, Suite A-183 · Brunswick, ME 04011 · 207.522.9028

Innovation Policyworks enables economic development officials at state, regional and local levels make better, data-driven decisions by providing expert research, analysis and recommendations. Our clients see innovation and entrepreneurship as critical elements of their economic development strategy, and are developing new programs or policies, and/or evaluating existing ones. 

Dr. Catherine S. Renault has been delivering innovation-based economic development results in rural states for more than 25 years, most recently as science advisor and Director of the Office of Innovation for the State of Maine. Cathy is currently finishing a cluster project for clean technology and starting on a strategy for Maine's Forest Products industry.
   For a list of selected projects, see www.innovationpolicyworks.com/projects.