The Washington Innovation Coalition consists of Technology Alliance, Washington Biotechnology & Biomedical Association and Washington Technology Industry Association. Together we support policies and investments that will make Washington the ideal location for cutting-edge tech companies to start, grow, and succeed.
Washington State Innovation Agenda
The Innovation Agenda encompasses three key areas: education, research capacity, and entrepreneurial climate.
Strengthen science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) preparation for all students.
Our state has the highest concentration of STEM jobs in the nation, yet the proficiency of Washington students in these fields is low. Tens of thousands of these well-paying jobs go unfilled or to individuals from outside the state, due to a lack of qualified local applicants. We must create more opportunities for Washington students to pursue educations and careers in these fields.
ACTION: Fully implement the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in Mathematics and English Language Arts and adopt the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Provide educators the training and tools necessary to align curriculum and instruction to these standards.
ACTION: Make STEM education a core part of our state definition of “basic education.”
ACTION: Create more opportunities for middle and high school students to pursue engineering and computer science education, working with districts to boost related class offerings and extra-curricular activities.
Cultivate high-quality K-12 teachers and educational leaders in STEM subjects.
The key to a quality education is quality teachers. As a state, we must provide them professional training to further their careers and learn new skills (particularly in STEM fields like Computer Science), and the structure to define educational successes.
ACTION: Create professional learning opportunities and incentives for teachers to receive training in computer science and other high-demand STEM fields.
ACTION: Provide efficient, alternative pathways to STEM teaching and administrative leadership for non-traditional candidates, such as industry professionals.
ACTION: Fully implement the four-tier teacher and principal evaluation system.
Ensure all students arrive in kindergarten ready to learn.
A quality pre-K education boosts student performance and long-term opportunity, and is critical to reducing the achievement gap between children from differing economic backgrounds. Unfortunately, roughly 58% of Washington children who qualify for these programs are not served by them, a staggering and unacceptable number.
In 2010, state legislators committed to expanding the state’s Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP) to become a statuatory requirement by the 2018-2019, but have not been making adequate progress toward that goal.
ACTION: Follow through on the state’s commitment to expand ECEAP. To meet the legislature’s state goals regarding pre-K capacity in the state, we must dedicate the funds to boost ECEAP capacity by at least 3000 slots per year.
Augment baccalaureate and graduate program capacity in high-impact fields.
The brightest STEM high school students don’t always have a place in our higher education system, due to constraints on capacity in high-impact and high-demand fields. This leads to decreased opportunities for students, as well as continued labor shortages among tech-based industries, perpetuating the conditions that have made Washington the national leader in importing workers with bachelor degrees or higher.
ACTION: Ramp up engineering and computer science degree production at our public four-year institutions by 10 percent per year over 10 years, prioritizing funding for expanded capacity in high-demand programs, providing targeted financial aid to students, and pursuing strategies to improve articulation, student retention, and time to graduation.
Ensure all high school graduates are prepared for college-level work or on-the-job training in STEM fields, and have the foundation to be lifelong learners.
Too often, students graduate from Washington schools unprepared to do college level work in STEM fields, or to take on apprenticeship programs. This discourages otherwise promising candidates from entering the fields, and necessitates remediation classes and other catch-up requirements among those who do.
ACTION: Reduce remediation rates among high school graduates, creating targets to define state success and identifying best practices from districts.
ACTION: Require 11th grade students to take a test-run through the college entrance exam in mathematics, to gauge their level of preparation and identify those needing extra help in preparing for college-level work.
Increase student access to post-secondary learning opportunities.
To properly address workforce needs, we must look beyond our K-12 and higher education system. In particular, we must find ways to offer post-secondary education in high demand fields to those individuals who are already in our workforce, or those who are underemployed.
Action: Boost state commitment to the Opportunity Scholarship Program, a public-private partnership that will enable more Washington students to obtain degrees in high-demand, high-impact fields.
Action: Streamline the regulatory pathway for implementing innovative higher education delivery models, such as blended and distance learning opportunities, and for enabling quality institutions from outside of Washington to establish satellite campuses in the state.
RESEARCH CAPACITY & ENTREPRENEURIAL CLIMATE
Make Washington the preferred destination for highly-educated, technical talent to build careers and companies.
Washington is known as an ideal place for the world’s smartest people to thrive, with a vibrant STEM ecosystem that has cultivated some of the world’s leading companies. However, other states and cities are aggressively staking a claim in the tech-based sector. The state must remain competitive.
ACTION: Develop a pilot initiative targeting H1B visa reform, enabling foreign students who earn high-demand, high-impact degrees at our colleges and universities to remain in the country conditional upon working in their degree field.
Cultivate an environment that will promote the continued growth of our research-based industries and institutions.
Washington is home to some of the world’s most innovative companies and research institutions. There are headwinds to staying that way, however. We are one of only ten states not offering R&D tax credits, for example. Where other states vigorously support the creation of new life sciences research, projects like Washington’s Life Sciences Discovery Fund is continually in danger of being cut by legislature. We must not allow current budgetary problems to derail our long-term economic success.
ACTION: Make permanent the state business and occupation tax credit for qualifying research and development activities, and the state sales and use tax deferral/waiver for high tech R&D and biotechnology manufacturing.
ACTION: Make available matching funds for highly leveraged federal R&D initiatives that will make Washington more competitive in attracting federal dollars to the state.
ACTION: Craft a strategy to leverage Washington’s talent and innovation assets to nurture local life sciences companies and to recruit multinational life sciences firms to establish research centers in our state, and create the position of life sciences advisor within the Governor’s Office to oversee this effort.
Enable more companies to successfully commercialize new technologies in Washington.
Some of the most cutting-edge technology and life science discoveries are born in Washington State. We must do all we can to support their commercialization locally, so we can play host to tomorrow’s billion dollar companies.
ACTION: Restore and sustain the state funding commitment to the Life Sciences Discovery Fund through 2018, to support commercialization of promising life sciences research.
ACTION: Provide technical assistance to Washington companies seeking federal innovation grants to increase our “win rate” for Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) funding.
ACTION: Maintain support for the Clean Energy Partnership to improve coordination and increase Washington’s competitiveness as a center of clean energy innovation.