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Historical Context:

Technology-based ED programmes and institutions and will require new practices in ED. The most notable were pioneered in response to emerging challenges to of these is the formation of innovation intermediaries, or the USA’s industrial competitiveness in the early 1980s.

The nation’s prominence in a number of industries was falling with the growth of foreign rivals, shrinking productivity and increasing unemployment. The majority of experts, including the well-known MIT Commission on Industrial Productivity, agreed that the best way to remain competitive was to retain those industries that had high and rapidly rising productivity (Dertouzos et al, 1989). The Commission’s findings focused the national response on better ways to support US manufacturing firms by developing less inflationary and less destabilizing economic policies. The state and regional responses to concerns about competitiveness gave rise to the first technology-based ED strategies.

States with economies that were heavily reliant on manufacturing industries, like Pennsylvania and Ohio, recognized that foreign competitors’ faster industrial design processes and greater flexibility in adapting to new market opportunities would be ongoing causes for concern and needed to be addressed systematically. In response to the rising threats, Pennsylvania Governor Richard Thornburgh created the Ben Franklin Technology Partnership (BFTP) in 1982 (Osborne, 1988). BFTP was structured to provide finance and incentives for applied research and the commercial outcomes of the state’s research enterprise. BFTP also provided technical assistance for new and existing businesses through its four regional centres and initiated funding for business incubators.

This groundwork by BFTP initiated the first programmatic approach to technology-based ED, providing a national model for other regions to replicate – which a large number would soon do. Ohio Governor Richard Celeste launched the Thomas Edison Program around the same time as Governor Thornburgh was unveiling the BFTP activities. The Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology (OCAST) and the Kansas Technology Enterprise Corporation (KTEC) were created in 1987, with Richard Bendis (one of the authors of this paper) serving as the first Chairman of KTEC. Under his leadership many of the original KTEC programmes were modelled on BFTP programmes. By 1988, 45 states were reporting more than 250 technology-based ED initiatives (Carnegie Commission, 1992).

The Carnegie Commission on Science, Technology, and Government began to investigate specifically technology-based ED entities in 1992. The Commission brought together many of the pioneers of the movement, including Bendis and Governors Celeste and Thornburgh, who would go on to serve as Commission Co-Chairmen. The Commission convened to make sense of recent trends and to formulate recommendations for best practice programmes. It confirmed that public–private partnerships were the most effective means of addressing US competitiveness.  Leveraging resources, including federal and state funding and private resources, and creating synergies or common purpose among parties, were further recommendations to be addressed through the partnerships. Governors Thornburgh and Celeste and Bendis continued to collaborate on this work as founding board members at the State Science & Technology Institute (SSTI) when it was established in 1996, with the two Governors serving as co-chairs. SSTI is a member-based organization for technology-based ED entities dedicated to improving government–industry programmes that encourage economic growth through the application of science and technology.

The continued development of technology-based ED concepts and best practices led to the reinvention and new formation of entities in the 1990s and 2000s. The Massachusetts Technology Collaborative was formally adopted in 1994. The New York State Office of Science,Technology, and Academic Research was formed in 2000. The Texas Regional Centers for Innovation and Commercialization were created in 2005 to manage funds from the newly established Texas Emerging Technology Fund.