Pa. Lags Behind Peers in Funding its ‘Innovation Economy,’ Brookings Report Says

Pennsylvania has the infrastructure and resources to fuel a vibrant innovation economy, but the state’s lack of investment is holding it back at a crucial time.

That’s the main message of a new report out Tuesday from the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program, which analyzed Pennsylvania’s current state of innovation funding and highlighted 20 state initiatives across the country to put that funding, or lack thereof, in context.

Pennsylvania’s innovation economy has gone flat at the wrong time,” the report’s introduction states.

Commissioned by the Pittsburgh-based Hillman Foundation, the report looked at the entirety of Pennsylvania and found, unsurprisingly, both Pittsburgh and Philadelphia were well above the rest of the state when it comes to the main metrics used to assess innovation, like research and development activity, patent applications and venture capital funding.

The main question posed to the Philadelphia area, the report’s authors said, is whether or not the region can continue the growth its seen in its innovation world on its own, or does it need the state to increase its support from a policy perspective?

… “We’re an under-funded model, but we still remain a model,” said RoseAnn Rosenthal, CEO of BFTP’s Southeastern Pennsylvania arm. For her, the main question for the organization isn’t whether it remains a model or not.

“It’s about, are you creating the opportunities for people to have jobs, and grow companies that produce wealth for the commonwealth?” she said. “And are those companies addressing issues that are important to the commonwealth?”

She agrees with Brookings’ takeaways, including that, among other initiatives, the state needs to invest in creating an evidence-backed, innovation strategy and invest in existing infrastructure like BFTP to fuel economic growth. If it doesn’t, she said, the state’s progress will only continue to flatline.

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