High-Tech Heats up Texas
Learn more about the projects, programs, and incentives that make technology thrive, in exclusive conversations with Mark Ellison, Manager, Emerging Technology Fund, Office of the Governor.
Susan Avery (Southern Tech Sites 2008)
Q. What technology sectors are booming?
A. Our most active sector, the life sciences, includes medical devices as the largest area, drug discovery, therapeutics, and agricultural biotechnology. In the two and one-half years of the Emerging Technology Fund's existence, we've completed 90 deals with a little under 50 percent in the life sciences. The rest is a mix of renewable energy and energy efficiency-related projects that include nanotechnology and advanced manufacturing in the defense industry.
Q. How's the "energy level" in Texas?
A. Texas has a long history in energy business. People aren't aware of our diversification in sources and technology related to conservation or energy transmission. We are seeing alternative energy projects in solar, energy storage technology, and biofuels. Governor Rick Perry and the state's leadership wants to participate in the ethanol business without disrupting the food or feed industries, so we are focusing on sustainable products that humans or animals won't eat, such as algae. Also, we are number one in wind capacity in the country and adding to that every day.
Q. How about future issues?
A. Next year, the Emerging Technology Fund will embark on a major initiative in cancer research, the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas, which over the next 10 years will invest $3 billion in detection, therapeutics, nutrition, and cancer-related cures. Numerous companies will be able to evolve in conjunction with our universities to find a cure for cancer, while building an economic and technology infrastructure to benefit our communities. The initiative has passed the legislature and has to go through appropriations. The method of financing is going to be bond sales. We are in the housekeeping/building stage now.
Research and development tax credits will also be explored in the 2009 legislative session for utility-rate reforms for energy intensive manufacturers. In cities such as Austin, with energy intensive industry such as semiconductor manufacturing, we want to work with energy companies and regulators to create more competitive utility rates.
We are proud that technology development is diversifying beyond the major metropolitan areas, so we have the capacity for companies to grow in multiple locations. With universities as key partners in technology commercialization, Governor Perry believes that taxpayers deserve a return on investment, so we are working to market, manufacture, and deliver those technologies.