• Use talent from engineering and business colleges to help manufacturers overcome financial and knowledge barriers.
• Create extension student internships making graduate students available to companies in various capacities.
• Hold industry-specific roundtable discussions on IT issues.
• Provide engineering assistance.
• Educate manufacturing managers about the value of innovation and technology as a strategic resource.
• Directly address the problem of cost, the top barrier to technology adoption.
It's clear that significant research and innovation is spearheaded by federal and university-based institutions. But business history books also are filled with breakthroughs resulting from private R&D efforts. The Southern Industrial R&D Initiative was created to help boost the South's share of the latter kind of research activity. A number of potential actions are being discussed:
• Establishment of programs to help entrepreneurs create their own R&D facilities - Doing so can yield long-term benefits at a cost that can be significantly lower than recruitment. Universities are prime sources of this kind of help and surveys suggest that the vast majority of executives would partner with universities if public funds provided incentives.
• Attraction of private R&D facilities, especially those from overseas
• Promotion of the region's attractiveness as a location for R&D facilities among economic developers as well as R&D executives
• The provision of initial funding to create state associations in targeted industries - An example of this kind of effort is the Mississippi Polymer Cluster, launched to promote collaboration among the state's polymer businesses, organizations, and initiatives.
• Seeding the creation of regional technology councils to help build support for science and technology issues, including the increase of R&D programs - For example, Virginia has 10 multicounty regional technology councils covering most of the state.
These are just some of the initiatives in place or taking shape to ensure that the Southern states are healthy participants in the "innovation economy."
Southern Nanotechnology Initiatives
- Alabama Center for Nanostructured Materials, Tuskegee University
- Center for Nanoscale Materials and Biointegration, University of Alabama at Birmingham
- Marcus Nanotechnology Center, Georgia Tech
- Joint research ventures involving Georgia Tech, Emory, and Clark Atlanta universities
- Institute for Micromanufacturing, Louisiana Tech University
- Center for Advanced Microstructures and Devices, Louisiana State University
- Advanced Materials Research Institute, University of New Orleans
- Approximately 30 nanotechnology research, development, and education organizations at North Carolina's universities
- NanoCenter, University of South Carolina
- Joint Institute for Advanced Materials, University of Tennessee-Knoxville and Oak Ridge National Laboratory
- Center for Nanophase Materials Science
- Condensed Matter Sciences
- High-Temperature Materials Laboratory
- Center for Self-Assembled Nanostructures and Devices, Virginia Tech
- Institute for Nanoscale and Quantum Science, University of Virginia
- Nanotechnology-specific research centers at Rice University and the University of Texas in Austin, Arlington, and Dallas
- WVNano Initiative, West Virginia University