Report: Untapped potential for economic growth through industry-university partnerships

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Carmen Lorentz, director, NH Department of Economic Development, discussed the positive steps NH is taking toward collaboration, and how the NH University Research & Industry Plan can work in concert with and bolster efforts that are already underway.
Carmen Lorentz, director, NH Department of Economic Development, discussed the positive steps NH is taking toward collaboration, and how the NH University Research & Industry Plan can work in concert with and bolster efforts that are already underway.

MANCHESTER, NH – New Hampshire has significant untapped potential to improve its economy by developing better synergies between its research institutions and industry. This is one of the primary findings in the just-released New Hampshire University Research & Industry Plan, which provides insights based on data-driven evidence of our state’s innovation strengths and suggests strategies to capitalize on opportunities.

The development of the New Hampshire University Research & Industry Plan was supported by Governor Maggie Hassan, commissioned by NH EPSCoR (Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research) and guided by a statewide committee, comprised of leaders from New Hampshire business and industry, legislative and executive branches of state government, philanthropy, the public sector, and higher education.

Challenges and Solutions

Research for the plan revealed that New Hampshire lags behind the national average in growth in research and development for both industry and universities; has untapped opportunities for industry-university collaborations; shortfalls in the level of entrepreneurial activity needed to drive future growth; and challenges keeping up with the demand for attracting and retaining skilled workers. However, it offers specific recommendations to address these challenges.

Mike Shipulski, director of advanced development, Hypertherm, Inc., and NH EPSCoR statewide committee member, praised the efforts to bring the NH University Research & Industry Plan to fruition, and discussed the importance of stakeholder collaboration to put the plan's recommendations into action.
Mike Shipulski, director of advanced development, Hypertherm, Inc., and NH EPSCoR statewide committee member, praised efforts to bring NH University Research & Industry Plan to fruition.

Jan Nisbet, senior vice provost for research at the University of New Hampshire, and NH EPSCoR state director, provided an overview and vision for the plan at the event. “New Hampshire has many positive attributes and opportunities for growth. We are fortunate to have strong people and organizations working toward creating high-wage jobs in industry and a local workforce to fill them. Yet we still have many challenges. This plan is data-driven, it is unique to New Hampshire, and it identifies three strategic priorities for the state and provides specific recommendations on how we can achieve them.”

The plan provides a road map that can inform strategic decisions about how the state can best use its assets and strengths to grow high-wage jobs in industry clusters that set New Hampshire apart. It focuses on three broad industry clusters in which the state has the most potential for growth:  Information Systems, Advanced Manufacturing, and Biosciences, and outlines broad strategic priorities.

“To achieve greater activity and presence between industry and university collaborators, we must promote a spirit of open innovation,” says Jamie Coughlin, director of entrepreneurship at Dartmouth College. “One way to accomplish this is through investment in place-based innovation and entrepreneurship, specifically incubators and innovation centers. These centers of gravity can serve as a way to curate talent and ideas and to ultimately accelerate serendipity between programs to discover solutions through unobvious connections. Dartmouth is a great example of this, where in the past three years we have made intentional investments in entrepreneurship, specifically in the form of people, programs and places, to support the transformation of ideas into impact.”

A common thread across the strategic actions in the plan is the need for public-private partnerships. Government, industry, colleges and universities and non-profits have a part to play in this strategy, but success will be dependent upon the active participation of these sectors’ top-level leadership in setting the tone and keeping stakeholders focused on implementing these actions.

“The tech sector is a vibrant and growing component of our economy, but we face some headwinds to maintain and accelerate the growth as outlined in this plan,” said Matt Cookson, executive director of New Hampshire High Tech Council. “Having an understanding of how to address our workforce and research challenges through a thoughtful plan and integrated ecosystem will enable us to turn those headwinds into tailwinds.”

The New Hampshire University Research and Industry Plan is not a broad economic development plan, but is focused on helping the State accelerate innovation-led development by aligning its research strengths with its substantial base of existing and emerging advanced industries.

Val Zanchuck, president of Graphicast and chair of the NH Business and Industry Association board of directors, said, “The BIA’s mission is to promote a healthy business climate and robust economic future for New Hampshire, and the New Hampshire University Research and Industry Plan identifies key sectors in which our state has opportunities to grow – and thrive. I think the impact of this plan will benefit many of BIA’s members, and help them grow and thrive here in our state.”

To support promotion of the New Hampshire University Research and Industry Plan, NH EPSCoR launched a website today, offering detailed information, including an executive summary, a downloadable plan, and other relevant resources. Please visit NHResearchAndIndustry.org. A summary of the NH University Research & Industry Plan recommendations follows.


NH University Research and Industry Plan Recommendations:

The New Hampshire University and Research Plan identifies three broad strategic priorities:

  • Promote industry-university collaborations with a focus on industry-facing research and growth opportunities.
  • Strengthen New Hampshire’s innovation ecosystem to spur increased commercialization, entrepreneurial development and place-making (i.e. physical places, such as technology parks, incubators, and accelerators to promote innovation).
  • Advance talent generation, retention and attraction through promoting industry-university collaborations and strengthening the state’s innovation ecosystem.

Specific examples of these recommendations include:

Promote Industry-University Collaborations

  • Partner larger industry consortium efforts with academia
  • Promote more university presence at networking activities
  • Advance more student research and design projects with industry
  • Better market and leverage university shared-use facilities for collaboration with industry

Strengthen New Hampshire’s Innovation Ecosystem

  • Raise incentives and investments for entrepreneurial development by inventors:
    • Target “Pre-Seed” Commercialization Funding
    • Establish an Angel Investor Tax Credit
    • Uncap New Hampshire’s Research and Development Tax Credit
  • Promote statewide mentoring and peer-to-peer networks that connect rural entrepreneurs
  • Focus on place-making around innovation hubs to retain and attract talent
  • Promote awareness and connections with Boston/Cambridge community

Advance Talent Generation, Retention and Attraction

  • Advance STEM post-secondary internships
  • Help employers create apprenticeships for a technical skilled workforce
  • Meet industry needs for new academic degree programs in emerging and multi-disciplinary fields

The plan is focused on three specific innovation clusters, which comprise six niche areas:

Information Systems: Data processing & network systems

Advanced Manufacturing: Sensors, optics, communications and electronic systems; photonics and plasma technologies

Biosciences: Biotechnology analysis tools, techniques and products; medical devices; agriculture, marine and bio-based products

Success depends on the active participation of various public and private stakeholders within the state, and active leadership to set the tone and focus on implementing these actions:

  • State Government has a unique role as a catalyst, using limited funding and marketing resources to spur action and leverage broader private sector activity. State Government can also help serve as a convener and facilitator to advance the state’s economic development goals in collaboration with non-profit economic development entities.
  • Industry must help frame opportunities and needs in order for the entire innovation ecosystem to respond effectively. Industry from private venture investors to entrepreneurs to established companies will also make the largest investments as commercially viable technologies move to the marketplace.
  • Colleges and universities can contribute in significant ways to advancing the state’s future by pursuing use-inspired research that aligns with industry technology challenges, offering shared use facilities, pursuing translational and commercialization of research discoveries, and generating the talent that can help realize the state’s industry-driven innovation opportunities.
  • The non-profit sector can provide capacity for New Hampshire to succeed through its foundations’ investing in the state’s future and through the non-profit economic development organizations and industry associations that work in concrete ways to support innovation, retention, and attraction of industry at the state and local levels.

For an executive summary and to view the full report, visit NHResearchAndIndustry.org.

About Carol Robidoux 6175 Articles
Longtime NH journalist and publisher of ManchesterInkLink.com. Loves R&B, German beer, and the Queen City!