Report gives Md. mixed grades on tech support

Maryland's technology promoters might call this the tough-love report.

A just-published "Innovation and Technology Index," prepared by researchers at Johns Hopkins University, concludes the state hasn't effectively harnessed the concentration of research and development centers, such as federal and university laboratories, to help foster its high-tech industries.

"While its economy is increasingly entrepreneurial and technology based, the state has not excelled to the extent that would be expected given its rich R&D resources," wrote Marsha Schachtel, the report's principal author and senior fellow at the Hopkins Institute for Policy Studies.

The report, ordered by the Maryland Technology Development Corp., a quasi-public concern, is the third since 1999 to examine how Maryland's environment for technology companies stacks up against that of neighboring states.

Researchers suggest stepping up programs to help transfer inventions from federal labs to the private sector, a perennial issue, as well as easier access to funds for startup companies and support at technology business incubators.

"Maryland's unique economic advantage is the presence of world-class universities and federal laboratories," Aris Melissaratos, the state's economic development czar, said in a statement accompanying the report's release today. "We need to invest in seed funds, business incubators and research parks, and technology transfer programs to capitalize on these assets."

The report acknowledged the state's technology climate has been impacted by the decline in national technology investment, noting there were no initial public offerings in 2001 and 2002 in the state, and that venture capital funding has tightened considerably.

Although Maryland is known for biotechnology research, it also has a large base of information technology companies and vendors.

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