The Center for American Progress recently published a comprehensive report on innovation clusters and how they relate to a region-specific economy. “Silos of Small Beer: A Case Study of the Efficacy of Federal Innovation Programs in a Key Midwest Regional Economy” offers insight into the obstacles inhibiting growth of regional innovation, and how federal programs designed to spur innovation could be reformed and realigned to better commercialize innovation.
Coming from the perspective of a four-city regional economy that includes Pittsburgh, Akron, Cleveland and Youngstown, authors Maryann Feldman and Lauren Lanahan provide a thorough assessment of, and connection between, “small beer” –or low-percentage federal investment– and the inability of businesses, university centers and economic development organizations to commercialize technological and scientific advancements. According to the report, only 10 percent of the nation’s $150 billion basic research and development funding pot is allocated to commercialization.
Encouraging findings from the report include: the willingness of businesses in the region to consult with a cluster coordinator (87 percent of respondents surveyed); the importance of developing bottom-up, locally organized approaches to innovation programs that are coordinated to regional economic development strategies; and the fact that startup companies and established small- and mid-sized firms are building on the region’s historical strength in industrial activity to create new products and services to emerging industry clusters within the region.
To read the report in its entirety visit: www.americanprogress.org/issues/2010/09/small_beer.html