versity system initiated an effort to develop and implement an intellectual property policy and a technology transfer program.
As background, several years ago most technology in Nevada was associated with the federal government, i.e., with the Nevada Test Site or the Department of Defense or with the University of Nevada System. Because of the nature of the business and security concerns, the operation of the Nevada Test Site has essentially been a closed industry and now, with the exception of activities at Yucca Mountain and its use as a geological repository, it is a nongrowth industry with little opportunity for the development of spin-off companies. The main industry in Nevada now is gaming and tourism, and diversification, which was not attractive to the casinos in the past, is now considered essential to the sustainability of the gaming and tourism industry.
Small companies in Nevada are the backbone of the business development community. For example, 40 percent of the new businesses in Clark County, Nevada (the county that includes the city of Las Vegas) have four employees or fewer; nearly 20 percent have 5 to 9 employees and almost 13 percent have from 10 to 19 employees. By contrast, only 0.3 percent of the businesses in Clark County have 1,000 or more employees, and 0.2 percent have from 500 to 999 employees.
More generally, the common characteristics of most state technology development programs beginning in the early 1980s include the creation of tripartite linkages between state economic development agencies, universities, and private industry; a recognition of the importance of technology development as a key ingredient of economic renewal and diversity; and a significant investment of funds. Matching funding, however, is typically required either from federal, state, or private sources.
Differences in these programs tended to be more numerous. Some of the more significant differences were the degree to which basic or applied research is emphasized; the nature of the relationship and degree of private sector involvement; the manner in which state funds are distributed; and the degree of accountability that is applied to the programs.
In 1983 the North Carolina State Legislature established the Technology Development Authority (NCTDA) ( www.nctda.com ) to create jobs and wealth throughout the state and gave it authority to establish incubators to transfer technologies into commercial applications by private industry. Since then the NCTDA has expanded its offerings to effectively provide and connect entrepreneurs through business incubation, venture capital, technology transfer, rural initiatives, and entrepreneurial expertise to commercialize promising business opportunities.
The incubators typically provide office and laboratory space, consultant expertise, an administrative infrastructure, and Internet access. The goal, of course, is to graduate, and the incubators provide incentives by