By Pete Julius

What is technology transfer? Sounds pretty interesting, doesn’t it? Well, it is.  The simple explanation of technology transfer is the ability to take an innovative idea and turn it into reality.  This can also be termed as the rate of commercialization.  OK, now that you know what it is, what does it mean for your community – -everything.  In order for your community to stay competitive, it is vital that your area compare favorably to other communities.

Research and development is one of the most important elements used by corporations to build a competitive advantage.  More importantly, it is the ability to convert those R&D expenditures into a product or service that can be commercialized.  Companies that fail to devote resources to improving their products and/or services could be very problematic.  Polaroid is a good example when they failed to allocate R&D resources to digital technology.  The same can be said for communities trying to attract and retain businesses.

Communities that fail to devote efforts to the development and implementation of new technologies face the strong possibilities of losing new business announcements to rival communities, not to mention the possibility of losing existing businesses.  So do you know where your community ranks?

The Milken Institute recently compiled a study in 2001 that ranked states according to their ability to transfer innovative thoughts into reality.  The study used the following criterion to determine the rankings: research and development expenditures, percentage of advanced degrees, number of patents, venture capital investments, new business start-ups and the number of IPOs.  The higher the ranking, the more equipped a state is capable of transferring an idea into reality.