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Linking Science and Technology to Society's Environmental Goals
Environmental Industry. The report's recommendations did not suggest that the state effort should focus on any particular environmental problems. Rather, the report recommended steps the state could take to facilitate the expansion of the whole industry and accelerate the transfer of ideas from the state's extraordinary research institutions to the marketplace. These steps were similar to those the state would use in any other aspect of technology promotion: improve access to financing and markets; expedite and simplify the permit process to reduce delays and uncertainty; train the work force and bolster public education more generally; and foster the growth of trade associations to promote common interests. To follow through on the original report, state agencies and the University of Massachusetts established the Strategic Environmental Partnership in the fall of 1993, and Governor William Weld established the Massachusetts Envirotechnology Commission. 15
Meanwhile, the state's Forum for Innovative and Alternative Technologies recommended the adoption of a strategic plan that would, among other things, lead to the establishment of "envirotechnology centers" at universities. Such centers have been major components of state S&T programs for many years. In 1984, New Jersey created the Hazardous Substance Management Research Center, which brings together several universities and some 34 industrial sponsors to research projects in six areas: incineration; biological and chemical treatment; physical treatment; site assessment and remedial action; health-effects assessment; and public policy and education.16
Barriers and Opportunities
The New York State Science and Technology Foundation (established in 1963) has helped to finance numerous university-based Centers for Advanced Technology, but none in fields directly related to environmental protection. The Compendium lists 13 foundation-sponsored centers, including centers for ceramic technology, materials processing, biotechnology, and automation and robots. As befits a rapidly changing economy, the list changes over time. Funding for each center periodically sunsets and must be renewed. In the process, the foundation has canceled those that fail to perform. The foundation invites universities to compete for the funds to establish these centers.
The foundation's former executive director, Graham Jones, said in an interview that he had tried to encourage applications for a center to focus on pollution prevention and environmental mitigation through innovative industrial chemical processes. He found no takers, despite the apparent social need and commercial value of advances in the area. He speculated that a fear of becoming encumbered with government requirements may be particularly strong among the private-sector experts in industrial chemistry. The decades-old divide between the regulated community and its regulators also discourages state agencies from taking mutually beneficial initiatives with firms. Graham said that a New York-based firm