Lab to Market: Accelerating the American South's R&D; Network

Over the past year, SGA has dedicated its energies toward developing a deeper understanding of the role “advanced manufacturing” is playing in the region’s economy. One of the key findings of that work was the importance of technology and R&D to the long-term health and sustainability of this important economic sector.

Thus, SGA has turned its attention to developing an account of R&D in the American South in order to assess our performance and build awareness about our strengths—and weaknesses—particularly as it relates to our targeted advanced manufacturing industries. Furthermore, to the extent that Southern governors wish to actively embrace a collaborative effort to improve the region’s recognition for its R&D accomplishments, this initiative can initiate the development of a more actively connected network of state and national policy makers interested in science and technology initiatives in the American South.

Track One—Comparative Analysis of R&D in the American South:
SGA staff will compile data to begin to draw a picture of R&D in the American South as compared to other states and regions of the United States.

These data elements will enable a straightforward comparison of R&D performance on a regionwide and state-by-state basis, categorized by industry and weighted on according to per capita performance.

Track Two—Developing an Inventory of R&D Capabilities and Achievements:
SGA is working toward creating an inventory of the region’s R&D strengths, and if possible, identifying research areas that are ripe for increased collaboration. Pairing the information we collect on R&D activities as outlined above to our existing inventory of innovation assets and key industry clusters will contribute to the narrative of why the American South is a great place for business.

Track Three: Policy Options: SGA is collecting information about state policy actions that have been proven to result in encouraging additional private R&D activities. Such policies might include:
• State R&D tax credits
• Exemption of sales and use taxes for R&D
• State cooperative technology programs that reduce the cost of R&D projects
• Technology transfer programs at Universities
• State spending on higher education in STEM disciplines (World Tax Database from Business School of the University of Michigan)
We will look to present the specifics of how the policies were constructed and under what circumstances, as well as any information available as to specific results.

Track Four: Presenting Findings and Recommendations: T
The findings and data from the first three phases will be compiled into a final report to governors and other stakeholders. Aspects of this final report would be the basis for sessions offering the opportunity for more extensive gubernatorial discussions on R&D performance, opportunities and challenges in the region, taking place within the 2014 SGA Annual Meeting in Little Rock.