The PA innovation economy is not “flat” in the “suburbs”. Here’s where it grows – and why

A recent report by Brooking says Pennsylvania’s innovation economy has stagnated, especially outside of centers like Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

The report blames a few factors, such as declining state government investment in start-up companies and lower R&D spending than the average for Pennsylvania-based companies, and goes on to say that to improve the performance of its industry innovation, Pennsylvania should adopt economic development strategies. competing states.

But in Chester County, we’ve found that being innovative in our action and policies, and not simply replicating what’s happening elsewhere, is key to supporting technological and entrepreneurial growth from our busiest suburbs to our lowest enclaves. more rural.

We do this by partnering with business, economic development, and government leaders in our community to create resources that are both impactful and sustainable. For example:

  • Last year Chester County awarded $100,000 to the Chester County Economic Development Council (CCEDC) and his Ideas x Innovation Network (i2n), a public-private partnership founded in 2012 to support locally launched technology companies. i2n has grown to help over 100 businesses a year access funding, workspace, mentorship and key contacts. The county grant builds on the state’s investment in the Keystone Innovation Zone tax credit program, which i2n administers for the region. The grant is 100% matched by private sector contributions.
  • That same year saw the creation of CompanyChescoa $4 million fund in partnership with the Chester County Pension Commission and supported by the state Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania to provide seed funding to technology and life science companies operating in the county.
  • In 2019, with public and private support, the CCEDC implemented the Entrepreneur Roundtablea peer group where startup founders and new entrepreneurs come together to address critical business needs, such as access to seed funding and professional development resources.
  • When formulating the innovation strategy, we rely on the input and expertise of local technology industry leaders such as Evolve Guy Fardone from IP and iPipeline’s Tim Wallace, who also serve as mentors to the next generation of technology innovators. Their businesses, and many more like them in Chester County, started as startups and became anchors for the region, employing hundreds of well-paying jobs. Their expansion is attracting new waves of tech talent, and their successes (like iPipeline’s $1.6 billion acquisition last month) are bringing southeastern Pennsylvania to the attention of investors around the world.
  • We know that more people need the opportunity to lead our tech economy and share in its rewards, regardless of gender, race or economic background. That’s why we’re focused on educating, expanding and diversifying our future tech workforce through youth programs that have helped more than 4,500 students explore STEM careers year-round. last.

Thanks in part to this strategy of long-term planning, coordination between the private sector and multiple levels of government, and creative problem-solving based on local challenges and resources, Chester County excels in several indicators of success in the ‘innovation. They include the number of invention patents per capita, the number of technology and life science companies, and the levels of allocation of KIZ and R&D tax credits.

There is still work to be done, here and across the state. And we agree with the Brookings Report’s call for an updated statewide innovation strategy, as well as the deployment of more private and public resources to improve Pennsylvania’s competitive advantage.

But before we turn to our out-of-state neighbors for policies that may or may not work for our local communities, or reflexively recreate the strategies of the past 20 years, let’s try to leverage our local strengths, enhance existing collaborations and advance new ideas to support the innovation economy.


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