activity, so the TIO used tobacco settlement money to create three life sciences “greenhouses” across the state. These are designed to find and develop technologies from universities and to invest in VC funds, of which there are now 32 in their portfolio. This allows the state government to brand the region, she said, and address the biotech sector with one cohesive voice. It also allowed the TIO to see what resources the region had, where the gaps were, and how they could be filled.
She described technology investment as a process with five stages:
She summarized the many programs supported by the state, saying that the objective common to all of them was “articulating to people what we do.” Returning to the biosciences, she noted that the federal role could be especially important, since six of the largest pharmaceutical companies in world are located within 50 miles of Philadelphia. “But some are in New Jersey and Delaware,” she said. “So if federal programs can fund innovation by region, we can have a really robust cluster.” The same would be true for the area between Pittsburgh and Cleveland. “But this is tough for states to do,” she said, “because we can’t spend taxpayer money outside our borders.”
Gaining and Losing Momentum
She said that the TIO had raised a total of $452 million in actual funding, which had been leveraged to a total of $1.18 billion. The TIO in FY2008-2009 had managed more than $77 million in annual appropriations and was responsible for investing and overseeing more than $1.1 billion. Now, she said, that process was losing momentum in the recession, with the Senate contemplating a budget cut of 60 percent. “We had gained a lot of momentum over last eight to 10 years,” she said “but now we may lose a lot from lack of funding.”
Another successful cluster, she said was the Pennsylvania energy cluster. Governor Rendell and the legislature had taken steps before the recession to invest nearly $915 million to spur the alternative energy economy. Funds distributed since 2003 and new legislation, such as the Alternative Energy Investment Fund, she said, would ensure that the commonwealth would be a national leader in this emerging sector for years to come. Since 2003, state investments in this sector had funded 564 projects that had created and retained more than 8,300 jobs.