Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano embraced all of the recommendations of her technology council yesterday at the annual Governor’s Tech Forum, and urged passage of three new bills in the Senate that would boost capital investment in the state’s high-tech industry.
She also touted a constitutional amendment on the November ballot that would enable state universities to take equity in companies stemming from their discoveries. The move would place Arizona’s universities on par with most major research universities nationwide and would generate additional revenue for the institutions.
“The production of knowledge is key to our future success,” Napolitano said to nearly 500 business and high-tech leaders at the Hyatt Regency Phoenix. “We are no longer a little Western frontier.”
Napolitano applauded the work of the Governor’s Council on Innovation and Technology (GCIT), which worked throughout 2003 to generate a plan to strengthen the state’s knowledge-based economy. The Council’s recommendations led to the introduction of three bills that would help to attract and grow high-tech companies, including those in the biosciences:
- SB1328 creates an Arizona Investment Fund to generate private capital to grow technology sectors. The fund, providing investment incentive in the form of tax credits, is expected to raise up to $50 million, which in turn should attract more than $250 million of new capital for Arizona businesses.
- SB1315 Establishes the Small Business Opportunity Program to expand early-stage investment in small businesses. The program would provide a tax credit to encourage investment in promising early-stage small businesses and “angel” funds that support them. The credit would equal 30 percent of the investment, increasing to 35 percent for bioscience companies and those in rural areas.
- SB1370 enhances the state’s research and development tax credit to encourage local companies to invest in research at the state’s universities. This would raise the tax credit range to 20-30 percent from 11-20 percent for the portion of research conducted at an Arizona university.
“At the heart of my 2004 legislative agenda is passing these three bills,” Napolitano said. “What it really comes down to is creating high-quality jobs for the people of Arizona.”
The governor announced that the campaign to promote the so-called “tech-transfer” amendment will be chaired by Sharon Harper, president and CEO of the Plaza Companies and a prominent Valley business leader.
Napolitano celebrated the successes of 2003: the GCIT plan; the passage of legislation to place the tech-transfer amendment on the November ballot; and successful legislation to provide $440 million for construction of university research facilities. She said that Arizona was the only state in a down budget year to make such a significant investment in its research infrastructure.
GCIT released comprehensive recommendations in December addressing technology business infrastructure, technology commercialization, and capital formation. The capital recommendations mirror those of Arizona’s Bioscience Roadmap, the state’s long-term plan to advance its biosciences infrastructure. Napolitano announced yesterday that GCIT will continue in a revamped format to implement its recommendations. She said she plans to meet quarterly with GCIT chair Ed Zito.
For more information:
“Support for tech sector can position state for greatness,” Business Journal, 02/13/2004
“Governor seeks tech funding,” Arizona Republic, 02/10/2004
“Napolitano seeking changes in economy,” Arizona Republic, 02/11/2004