Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Chamber releases Competitiveness Scorecard on innovation generated by state's Higher Education Industry.


The Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce today released its second Competitiveness Scorecard, a barometer of cost and competitiveness issues facing the Massachusetts economy and a comparison of how the Commonwealth fares against the 49 other states.  The November edition of the Competitiveness Scorecard focuses on innovation generated by the state’s higher education sector.

The Scorecard shows that Massachusetts’ colleges and universities play a vital role in promoting and sustaining innovation – providing the basis of the ‘innovation engine’ that drives our economy.  Massachusetts ranked 1st in the nation per capita for the total number of patents produced by higher education institutions - with a rate nearly twice as high as the next closest state. 

A high rate of patent production indicates success in research and development, and also indicates that Massachusetts is a fertile ground for inventors and entrepreneurs.  Massachusetts ranked 3rd in the country in the total number of start-up companies created from university R&D, suggesting that the high patent numbers translated into a robust entrepreneurial market for the state.

Despite its relative strength, Massachusetts’ higher education institutions are threatened by the economic downturn and global competition.  The recession and the resulting decline in institutional endowments have left our leading colleges and universities vulnerable to other states and nations that are quickly closing the gap in research funding – challenging our leadership position in innovation.

In order to maintain and strengthen the Massachusetts higher education sector’s position as an innovation leader, the Chamber proposes:
  • Maintaining the financial strength of colleges and universities by sustaining the strong commitment to federally sponsored R&D and not taxing institutional endowments that continue to fuel research;
  • Promoting patient capital in Massachusetts start-ups by adopting a “3 in 3” investment incentive, which would apply a 3 percent capital gains tax to Massachusetts-based start-ups [vs. current 5.3% and 12% rates]; and
  • Strengthening higher education-business connections for talent development to keep college and university talent in the region.
“Massachusetts is clearly an innovation leader, and that strength is a testament to our colleges and universities,” said Chamber president & CEO Paul Guzzi.  He added, “But the rest of the world is catching up, and we must do everything we can to sustain our advantage.  The Chamber’s proposals will help ensure we maintain our innovation edge.”

The Chamber will advocate for these recommendations, and will work with college, university, civic, business, and government leaders to ensure that the higher education sector maintains its leadership position as an engine of innovation.  Download the full scorecard at bostonchamber.com.

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