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Maine's 2011 Evaluation of R&D Investment Released
The Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) has released the 2011 summary evaluation of Maine's investment in research and development prepared for DECD by PolicyOne Research (ME), EntreWorks (VA), and Scruggs & Associates (NC). This yearly evaluation of Maine's R&D programs helps DECD understand the impact that the state R&D investments have, and identify areas where the state has an opportunity to be more competitive. The consulting team also offers recommendations to help build a more robust business climate leading to job and revenue growth for Maine companies.
"While the summary presents several areas of strength in Maine's innovation economy, it shows there are still areas for improvement. The evaluation recommends that with Maine's limited funding, R&D investments should be focused on addressing the most critical innovation gaps in Maine and accelerating the creation of businesses and jobs in high growth industries," says DECD Commissioner Philip Congdon.
"We find we are good at supporting start-ups, but we need to do a better job of fostering the growth of those businesses," adds Congdon.
Congdon suggests that this should come in the form of support and education in developing actionable business plans that analyze eventualities and focus on growth.
The report indicates that one way to do that is to encourage Maine's innovation-based companies to expand to markets outside of Maine, in other states and globally. Another way is to link financing with mentoring and business advisory services, to help Maine entrepreneurs accelerate the growth of their companies.
Pat Scruggs, president of Scruggs & Associates says, "One of the important (recommendations) is to grow Maine companies, getting them to go from that two to ten person company to a 40 or 50 person company," says Scruggs.
"Maine has invested in R&D for a number of years and we must be committed to continuing. States with entrepreneurial support see job growth for assisted companies outpacing the regions job growth by three to one," says Congdon.
Evaluation highlights include:
- Maine has seen slight increases in venture capital and the percent of scientists and engineers in the workforce, which is critical for the growth of innovation-based companies.
- Maine ranks 28th for scientists and engineers in the workforce.
- Maine universities are growing their R&D capacity from 35% of the US average to over 70% of the US average; recent years show sharp increases.
- Average annual employment in Maine's technology sectors stayed flat, outperforming the average annual employment in the U.S. technology sectors, which declined by 1.7%.
- Maine ranks 21st in the U.S. for business formation, but 40th for fast-growing firms. Companies that are growing appear to take advantage of national and regional industry networks, strategic partnerships, and federal contracts and grants.
- Maine students are performing above average in our eighth grade math and science scores, yet students are failing to enroll in Maine college programs leading to scientific and technical degrees, which are critical for innovation-based industries from forestry and food products to software and biosciences.