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Feldmann: How to grow a bigger tech economy

Over the past couple of years Virginia has undertaken some important introspective studies that have helped the state identify its significant innovation assets, while also recognizing areas of underperformance. Under the auspices of the Virginia’s State Council of Higher Education (“SCHEV”), TEConomy Partners conducted state and sub-regional assessments that led to a number of insights about Virginia’s performance in the innovation economy and generated several strategic recommendations.

On the positive side, TEConomy’s 2016 assessment of the state found that Virginia is a leader in certain aspects of the innovation economy. Virginia has:

• Nearly 448,000 jobs in advanced industries;

• $2.1 billion in venture capital investment in emerging companies, ranking Virginia 4th among all states relative to the size of the state economy;

• $10.5 billion in R&D funding led by federal labs and federal funding, ranking Virginia 13th nationally based on absolute dollars.

Despite these positive findings, TEConomy’s report also found that “the signs of lagging performance in Virginia’s innovation ecosystem are unmistakable.” As evidence for this statement TEConomy offers the following:

• Between 2010-2016 Virginia’s employment in advanced industries grew at a modest 3% while the nation grew at a 14% clip;

• Venture capital levels of investment have flattened in Virginia and have been consistently below the $2 billion level attained only in 2010 and 2016 ($752 million in 2018) while the U.S. level of venture investment grew by nearly 40% between 2010 and 2016;

• Virginia declined in overall R&D funding by 6.3%, or nearly $500 million, between 2010 and 2015, while the national level grew by over 14% during the same period;

TEConomy’s study concluded that Virginia must take action to reverse this underperformance and realize its full potential in innovation-led development. To do this, TEConomy recommended that the state strengthen its university translational research and development capacity, bridge the disconnect between university research and Virginia-based company innovation, enhance regional innovation support capacities to generate more start-ups and advance high growth industries.

To learn more, check out the whole article below.