'Innovation Summit' will try to regain advantage

  • Article by: WENDY LEE
  • Star Tribune
  • January 17, 2011 - 8:51 PM

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar is holding an "Innovation Summit" Tuesday to bring forth ideas and strategies to revitalize the country's competitive edge.

The four-hour event at the University of Minnesota will include a number of business and government leaders, including Medtronic CEO Bill Hawkins and Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., a co-founder of telecommunications firm Nextel Communications.

"I am convinced that the innovation and the competitive agenda for this country is what will bring us out of this economic slump," Klobuchar said.

Klobuchar said she plans to unveil a "National Innovation Agenda" at the event. She calls for cutting red tape for the nation's top 20 exporting industries; encouraging more education in science, math, technology and engineering; and extending a tax credit that supports research and development for another year.

The summit is open to the public and happens at 10 a.m. at the U's Mayo Memorial Auditorium. It comes at a time when science and technology boosters are recommending that the state invest more in those areas to create more jobs.

A report filed over the weekend by the Minnesota Science and Technology Authority's advisory commission is asking the state for $20 million for the 2012 to 2013 budget cycle. That would go toward programs that help entrepreneurs build their businesses and direct talent into the state's science and technology industry.

Over 10 years, the commission hopes for investment in the ballpark of $750 million. The report estimates that during that time 30,000 to 45,000 direct science and technology jobs and 100,000 indirect jobs can be created.

The commission says these actions must be taken in order to ensure the state's long-term vitality. "Our status as a state of innovation is slipping and our entrepreneurial activity and new business formation is almost at a standstill," the report said.

The report's budgetary requests still need approval from the authority's commissioners. They would then face a tough climate for funding, with the state facing a $6.2 billion budget shortfall over the next two years.

Wendy Lee • 612-673-1712

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