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Connecticut Needs a Unified Technology Policy

A new report out of Boston may change the tactics that states and localities use to improve their ability to develop and attract more fast growing companies. Click here to view the report.

First, some background. In economic development circles, the discussion often drifts to a modified version of the chicken or egg dilemma. We add ‘or chicken feed’ thus creating our own answer to the question Is it the idea, the execution or the funding and supporting environment that contributes most to an innovation based economy.

When it comes to technology growth you should know by now that the Council preaches that there is a long list of vital and necessary ingredients known as the innovation continuum.

This list of about 15 factors needed to position a city, region or state is something Connecticut has had in abundance for most of the last century and a half. Ideas, talent, money and a helpful network of enablers. Click here to view the CTC’s Tech Policy Slides with the factors of success.

We know that some places – Boston, San Francisco, Austin – are just better than we are at hosting start-ups that are capturing venture dollars. In Connecticut, we can point to several examples (VBrick, Open Solutions, US Nanocorp, Tangoe, 454 Life Sciences, Top Coder, S,S&C, Inc.) who received venture backing and who are now recognized nationally for their growth and innovation.

Yet, the overall data says our innovation economy is sluggish. We need a real shot of something if we are to avoid a crisis resulting from the slow growth and lost opportunity five or ten years from now.

Even our most successful members privately hint that they succeed in spite of Connecticut, not because of the southern New England environment.

That brings us back to the Boston study. The Mayor there, wanting to know what his town was doing so right that it had become one of a dozen or so global centers of technology growth, commissioned a report. The results belie conventional wisdom a bit.

Apparently it was not the great ideas from MIT or Harvard or money from abundant venture capitalists that made the big difference. Instead, the report went on it was the large number of skilled entrepreneurs and their networks of supporters that gave Boston its unique innovation advantage.

The data and logic behind this new report will be the subject of much debate, I’m sure.

The problem is that coming up with new early stage money or new targeted university research programs is potentially easier than creating an overall environment that will bring and keep top entrepreneurs.

The Technology Council is intent on creating this kind of environment. We have been working on programs that support innovation efforts and lobbying to educate government about the need to move beyond traditional views of business creation. With your support this has been going well.

The Boston report will create new competition and put new pressure on governments to chase the people who drive innovation. This is all the more reason for a unified statewide technology policy to be enacted this session.

Matthew Nemerson President & CEO Connecticut Technology Council

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