Spokane’s SIRTI to be replaced

This State House bill 2ESB 5764 – 2011-12 was passed and signed by the Governor. This bill abolishes the original Spokane Intercollegiate Research Technology Institute (SIRTI).

Under the bill, SIRTI will be replaced with a new state agency called “Innovate Washington”, which by law, will be required to work with public and private universities, industry and government to grow “the innovation-based economic sectors of the state and responding to the technology transfer needs of existing businesses in the state”.

Innovate Washington seems to have some leeway with regards to state’s top-down, centralized planning “industry cluster” model, although its goals are aligned with a “sector-focused economy”. With regards to education, “Priority shall be given to applicants that have an established education and training program serving the targeted industry and that have in their home district or region an industry cluster with the same targeted industry at its core.” What this means is that educational programs are primarily intended to be aligned with the local region’s, state-selected industry clusters.

The list of clusters selected by the state for Spokane varies from month to month, year to year, and so on. See Washington State’s Innovation Ecosystem, What Does This Mean for Spokane, Why Washington’s Top Down Industrial Clustering Policy Will Fail, Washington State Reinforces the Health Services Cluster, and Yet Another Set of Centrally Planned Clusters for Spokane. For practical purposes, your business needs to align with the State supported clusters.

The eastern office will be the current SIRTI office on the WSU-Spokane campus, and the western office will be at UW-Seattle. Each campus will have a designated representative on the Board, which will have 15 members, 8 of which should come from industry and the rest are WSU/UW or political appointees.  This seems to address my previous comments that the Board structure of SIRTI was disconnected from their contemporary mission.

Regarding Spokane, specifically, we still need to create an innovation culture which is lacking here.

That’s all I have time to write now.

Past items on SIRTI

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