Legislation to Develop Science Parks Advances
Last week, the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee unanimously passed the Building a Stronger America Act which promises to spur innovation and economicdevelopment through the development of science parks.
The Act allows the Secretary of Commerce to guarantee up to 80 percent of loans exceeding $10 million for the construction of science parks, which seek to encourage new startup businesses,generate student interest in science and technology fields, and encourage relationships between universities and industry.
“Science parks provide a launch pad for economic activity in a community. They have a strong record of fostering talent, high tech innovation and job growth,” said Senator Mark Pryor (D-AR), who introduced the bill with Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME).
“Our bill goes beyond the traditional “mortar and bricks” model and leverages the networks of people, knowledge, and technology clusters in order to meet the economic development needs of the 21st century,” said Senator Snowe.
The bill is also cosponsored by Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Mark Begich (D-AK), Jeff Bingaman (D-MN), Bob Casey (D-PA), Byron Dorgan (D-ND), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Kirsten Gillibrand(D-NY), Mike Johanns (R-NE) and Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) and Tom Udall (D-NM).
One problem not likely to be solved by the development of science parks is freeing up innovations languishing in university labs. A 2008 study by the Kauffman Foundation argues that it would be more beneficial to fund the creation of additional "proof-of-concept" centers like MIT's Deshpande Center to facilitate economic growth & high-tech commercialization.
(note: The Act bears a similar name to the theme used by the Entrepreneurs' Movement, but is unrelated to it or the Kauffman Foundation)