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Science and technology authority

Published (3/18/2010)
By Patty Ostberg
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The state faces a competitiveness crisis, according to the Minnesota Science and Technology Economic Development Project Committee. And help is needed to coordinate federal funding efforts to benefit small- to medium-sized science and technology-based businesses.

Sponsored by Rep. Tim Mahoney (DFL-St. Paul), HF3389 would establish the Minnesota Science and Technology Authority to develop and implement a comprehensive science and technology economic development strategy for the state.

“Minnesota lags in its commercialization of research and development and technology-based economic development,” Mahoney said. He hopes the authority will help make Minnesota start-up companies competitive.

The authority would:

• coordinate public and private efforts to procure federal funding for research and development projects;

• promote contractual relationships between businesses that receive federal grants and prime contractors and Minnesota-based subcontractors;

• work with higher education institutions and nonprofits to promote collaborative efforts to respond to federal funding opportunities;

• develop a framework for Minnesota companies to establish sole-resource relationships with federal agencies; and

• provide grants and financial assistance to eligible recipients.

A 17-member advisory commission would oversee the authority.

Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer (R-Big Lake) said she is concerned with the “broad authority,” such as collecting fees, being able to accept gifts and the ability to take legal action over contracts and agreements.

Approved March 16 by the House State and Local Government Operations Reform, Technology and Elections Committee, it awaits action by the House Finance Committee. A companion, SF3014, sponsored by Sen. Kathy Saltzman (DFL-Woodbury), awaits action by the Senate Economic Development and Housing Budget Division.

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