States that harness innovation, and the
companies associated with it, are capturing a disproportionate share of economic growth, generating tax revenue and creating the highly paid, sustainable jobs that drive strong economic growth.
In fact, research by the Kauffman Foundation shows that young firms create the vast majority of new jobs, meaning funding the entrepreneurial ecosystem is a smart investment.
That’s why so many other states have adopted technology-based economic development programs of their own in recent years, and they are investing heavily.
When compared to neighboring states, Pennsylvania’s appropriation for the Fiscal Years 2019 to 2021 shows just how competitive the field is for tech- and innovation-based economic development.
For example, in neighboring New Jersey they recently passed economy recovery legislation known as the New Jersey Economic Recovery Act of 2020. Meanwhile Ohio has unveiled several Innovation Districts made possible by a billion-dollar investment in business growth that will bring together the state’s leading healthcare providers and education institutions.
The latest state-by-state investment information, according to the State Science & Technology Institute (SSTI), shows a growing focus by states to harness the power of innovation and technology to diversify and strengthen their economies (see chart). States are making these kinds of investments for one very simple reason – they work.
Recognizing the vital role technology and innovation play in the commonwealth’s present and future economic growth, Gov. Tom Wolf’s 2022-23 draft spending plan proposes at least $22 million for Ben Franklin Technology Partners. Under the governor’s proposed budget, each Ben Franklin would receive $5.5 million, totaling $22 million for the statewide initiative that supports early-stage technology firms and high-tech entrepreneurs.
SSTI Poll Finds PA Residents Overwhelmingly Support Investments in Innovation
A poll by the State Science & Technology Institute shows 95 percent of likely voters in Pennsylvania voters overwhelmingly support the Innovative Science & Technology for Economic Prosperity initiative (iSTEP) proposed by SSTI. Support cuts across common policy divides, as voters of different ages, races, parties, and education all approve of implementing iSTEP. The initiative described to respondents would bring the “benefits of American innovation to the American people.” Policies discussed to implement the idea include increasing investments in research, expanding start-ups’ access to capital, and converting “government-funded research into new companies and jobs.”
Report Charts Course to Advance Pa.’s Innovation Leadership
According to an independent report released in summer 2019 by the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program, Pennsylvania’s leadership has gone sideways and the state could be missing out on job and economic growth as it falls behind other states in fostering investments in innovation.
Gov. Tom Wolf cited the findings of the report when he announced his plan to fuel innovation across Pennsylvania, making the commonwealth a national competitor in attracting and retaining entrepreneurs and startups through strategic funding and community support.
The report, “Ideas for Pennsylvania Innovation: Examining Efforts by Competitor States and National Leaders,” looked at spending by state and local governments, as well as businesses and universities, on research and development and other incentives.
According to the report: “Programs like the Ben Franklin Technology Partners have long been the centerpiece of technology-based economic development in Pennsylvania, and, if fully funded, could serve as a platform for both implementing new innovation programs and reviving former ones.”
The state’s proposal to invest $5 million in Ben Franklin is a good way to enhance the state’s entrepreneurial environment and innovation ecosystem.
According to polls, 89% of voters nationwide support initiatives to drive greater benefit out of science and technology innovation — exactly the kinds of programs that Ben Franklin offers today.
*Key findings from 2015 national public opinion research by the INNOVATION ADVOCACY COUNCIL: An initiative of SSTI.