Governor Gary Locke’s Remarks
Technology Alliance Technology Institute
September 10, 2003
Good morning. Itís great to be here for this important discussion. What a beautiful setting!
I want to begin by thanking the Technology Alliance and its board and staff for organizing this event. Thanks to Ed Fritzky and Rick Klausner for chairing it. And thanks to all of you for taking time out of your busy schedules to enrich this dialogue.
We all agree with the premise of this conference: Excellence in education, research, and entrepreneurship are key to ensuring our stateís international competitiveness. Only by staying competitive will we be able to make sure our children find the satisfying well-paid jobs that enable them to live, work, and raise a family in our state.
The global economy is fiercely competitive. Our competitors are other states and regions around the United States; and other countries and regions around the world. These competitors are also energetically striving to be the place that creates, attracts, and nurtures the very best. The best scientists. The most innovative managers and entrepreneurs. The most highly educated workforce. The most knowledgeable sources of capital to fuel the Innovation Economy.
We must do all we can to make sure that Washington is one of those places. This requires tough and far-sighted choices. In the past weíve had a tendency to take our success for granted. Times have changed. But Iím encouraged that we are up to this challenge.
In this yearís legislative session, we were able to enact many of the measures recommended by the Washington Competitiveness Council. Many more recommendations were enacted by Administrative Order.
We passed a comprehensive transportation program. We put forth a highly competitive package to compete for Boeing 7E7 final assembly. And we balanced our budget in a very difficult environment without property, sales or business tax increases. Our Priorities of Government approach to the budget has become a model for other states.
But we still have much more work to do. Weíve worked very hard to nurture and attract todayís highly successful industries and companies. But we must also lay the foundations for the Weyerhaeusers, the Boeings, and the Microsofts of tomorrow. Weíll do that by focusing on education, research, and entrepreneurship. Just the topics youíve been discussing over the course of this conference.
The Washington Competitiveness Council recommended that we identify emerging fields where Washington has the potential to be a world leader. We must cultivate growth in these areas through public-private partnerships. Iíve been listening to our stateís research and industry leaders the past several years. Iíve learned that there are many promising opportunities in information technology. Specifically, in using information technology to transform the life sciences, biotechnology, and ultimately the practice of medicine. Last summer I convened a group of leaders in these fields to explore our regionís potential and what needed to be done.
Accordingly I sought and obtained $250,000 from the legislature to develop a specific strategy for this industry of the future. At my request, the Technology Alliance has been leading a rapid, focused process over the summer to develop this strategy. I commend our Legislature for providing this financial support, especially Helen Sommers.
Weíre fortunate that the Technology Alliance has taken this challenge on. Shan Mullin and Lura Powell have done an outstanding job of chairing the steering committee that is guiding the effort. Our state also owes a debt of gratitude to Chuck Hirsch for nurturing this from the beginning, to McKinsey & Company and the Washington Technology Center for research support, and to many others here today who are serving on that committee.
I have challenged the steering committee to define a program. A program that fosters the finest scientific research in and between our world-class research institutions to help our state lead the world in scientific discovery. A program that focuses our unique assets on the most promising market and research opportunities. A program that leverages state investments with private and federal dollars. A collaborative program among the stateís research institutions, companies and health care community in research, development, and commercialization. And a program that will provide economic and health care benefits across the state.
But it all begins with research. Research is driving the biotech revolution. Most of that research is currently being paid for by NIH and other federal agencies. It is typically performed in our universities and independent research institutions. These agencies chase the best science without regard to state borders. States have learned that research capacity investments in universities and non-profit research institutes can help attract and leverage federal funding.
Weíve done well in leveraging federal dollars. But we can do even better. Other cities and states with less research capacity than Washington are aggressively seeking and securing federal funding.
Weíve already convinced the State Investment Board to establish policies to target more state pension funds for Washington technology firms.
Itís time for our state to think more strategically and act more boldly. Thatís what Iíve asked the steering committee to help us do.
Iím looking forward this morning to hearing about the outline for such a program as developed by the Washington Advisory Group. This proposed approach reflects input from many of you, and from other leaders around the state. And Iím looking forward to the discussion afterwards as we continue to shape this initiative. We need your best thoughts!