State group hopes to persuade the Legislature to come up with the money.
A group of science and technology boosters plans to ask state lawmakers for $10 million next year to fund start-ups and increase entrepreneurship in Minnesota, according to a draft of its recommendations.
The Minnesota Science and Technology Authority formed earlier this year and will make recommendations to the legislature next month on ways to improve the state's climate for science and technology. The group's formation comes at a time when state officials are concerned about early-stage funding for start-ups and support for innovation.
An advisory commission to the authority began reviewing the recommendations Wednesday. The commission wishes to use the $10 million for programs that will help entrepreneurs build their businesses and direct talent into the state's science and technology industry.
The $10 million would include $1.25 million for the authority's operations, $2 million in a Technology Commercialization Fund, $2 million for an Advanced Entrepreneur Program, $4 million to support Small Business Innovation Research grants and $750,000 for an internship program.
The commercialization fund would provide matching funds for emerging companies that already have received money from the public or private sector. The entrepreneur program would give advisory services, with state funding matched by business and industry organizations. The internship program would one day establish 200 internships for science and engineering students at Minnesota companies, with the businesses matching the state's funding.
Over time, the commission hopes for more state money. Over the next 10 years, the authority hopes to put $350 million toward programs and facilities for research and development, invest $150 million in talent development and contribute $250 million in other investment.
Whether the Legislature will heed the advice remains to be seen. The state faces a $6.2 billion budget shortfall over the next two years.
"That's going to make it very hard for state lawmakers to fund new programs at this point," state economist Tom Stinson said. "Adding jobs quickly to the Minnesota economy will be the goal for the Legislature and governor. This is more of a long-term program."
But Rep. Tim Mahoney, DFL-St. Paul, says he backs the recommendation, adding that it's important to invest money in the growth of science and technology jobs in the state.
"I think you can only [look at] the short term for so long before it bites you in the butt," Mahoney said. "If you don't invest, if you don't look long-term, you're going to lose in the long run."
Wendy Lee • 612-673-1712