School of Public Policy Associate Professor Jennifer Clark discussed the reinvention of regional economies as high tech engines for growth at the 16th SSTI Annual Conference held in Atlanta October 29-30.
Clark recalled that when she first arrived at Georgia Tech in 2005, “my students were very focused on university economic development issues like tech transfer, entrepreneurship, commercialization models, venture capital, etc. There was very little talk about jobs. Now, students are constantly asking me about outsourcing, manufacturing, and job creation.”
“In some sense, university economic development is moving very quickly from the theoretical to the tactical. Increasingly people and the politicians holding the purse strings want to see the jobs, not just the knowledge creation. This, of course, is quite understandable. However, in some sense this shift moves the goal posts in the game of university economic development, and the implications are not trivial. Simply put, universities are in the business of creating knowledge spillovers in the first place. Serving as the R&D infrastructure provider and incumbent worker training provider for industry is an expanded role and an expanded mission. These are new tasks."
“Similarly, helping to shape the narrative of the high-tech region is consistent with what universities do anyway, casting themselves as global actors on an international stage producing world-class research."
“However, attracting FDI, ‘becoming part of the package’ for specific firms rather than a general regional asset, is new set of activities. The consistently expanding role of universities as the institutional incubators of new firms again adds a role that is otherwise not embedded within the educational mission.”
Georgia Tech was a major sponsor for the conference. Clark was one among a distinguished roster of speakers from Tech that included Steve Cross, Executive Vice President of Research, Stephen Fleming and Jan Youtie of Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute (EI2), Rich DeMillo of the Center for 21st Century Universities (C21U), and Marlit Hayslett of GTRI Office of Policy Analysis and Research.