After a rough few decades, there are signs that Connecticut’s economic outlook is improving.
Crucially, the winner of the upcoming gubernatorial and legislative elections builds that momentum together by launching a new, ambitious phase of the National Economic Strategy focused on winning the next generation of talent, technology and jobs. compete.
Three factors make now the right time to launch this economic strategy through massive innovation partnerships between universities and industry.
First, Covid-era hybrid/remote work is a game-changer that determines competition between states and territories. Competition has been about attracting employers for decades, but now more than ever there is a focus on “talent strategy” – winning the competition to attract and develop the best talent to drive innovation, especially in clusters of expertise that attract talent aspect.more talent
In an era where remote work allows many of the most talented people to live anywhere and into the job market, the quality of life in the community, good schools and a reasonable cost of living are more important than ever to attracting and retaining talent . That’s good news for Connecticut, which has seen an uptick in new residents recently.
Second, a heightened awareness of the risks of technological competition from China is causing global tech companies to operate sensitive R&D and supply chain operations “onshore” as they seek locations and talent.
Third, after years of flat federal research funding — driven in part by the threat of Chinese competition — billions of dollars in new federal R&D funding have gone to energy, climate, healthcare, and life sciences. Operation Warp Speed’s success in bringing a COVID vaccine to market in record time has prompted the government to design a number of new life sciences programs to get funding faster and with fewer strings attached.
Much of this new funding will go to universities and teaching hospitals. A disproportionate amount of funding will go to states and territories that organize large-scale competition for grants through partnerships between universities and industry. State competition funds create advantages in federal grant competitions.
The good news is that Connecticut is well-positioned to compete with talent and technology strategies. The state has come a long way on the agenda set by the Fiscal Stability and Economic Growth Commission in 2018. Yale University continued to develop major new research facilities, particularly in the life sciences, while the University of Connecticut rose in the rankings for research funding.
But more can be done. The difference between doing better and winning will depend on a vision for success — and an ambitious strategy organized by industry, university and state leadership.
Strategy requires focus – you can’t win at everything. A careful analysis of Connecticut’s talent and technology assets, known as the technology roadmap, will help identify areas that align with new federal funding opportunities where the state has the potential to become a national leader.
The state’s role is to convene leaders, work with private sector and university partners to develop a roadmap and create incentives for technologies and sectors that are expected to provide jobs and equitable economic opportunity for all Connecticut residents. It’s about identifying areas of strength and building on them, not picking winners and losers in the market.
Developing a technology roadmap for Connecticut begins with asking a few fundamental questions to drive strategy and collaboration:
- What is our vision for success? What are the targeted opportunities to become a national talent and technology leader?
- Where do these opportunities best align with major federal and private sector R&D funding?
- What new university-industry partnerships can we organize to win funding for nationally important “centers of excellence” that will make Connecticut a magnet for talent and jobs?
Finally, two other issues are also important in developing and attracting the talent that the country needs to prosper. What else can we do to invest in our own people by dramatically improving public schools and universities? Do we have a promotional strategy to recruit top American and foreign talent to the state?
Connecticut has no shortage of strengths. Launching a talent and technology-based economic development strategy focused on these strengths will help usher in a future marked by economic growth, good jobs and expanded opportunities.
William Guenther is a founding officer of the Connecticut Compact, a new nonprofit initiative dedicated to building consensus on the state’s most pressing challenges and opportunities, focusing on economic strategy, climate change and election reform .