Interview with Frank Samuel, proponent of “Great Lakes 21st Century Fund” (Part 1/2)

by Zach Robins

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The Brookings Institution recently published a white paper titled, “Turning up the Heat: How Venture Capital Can Help Fuel the Economic Transformation of the Great Lakes Region.” In it, Author Frank Samuel, former Science and Technology Advisor to the Governor of Ohio, tackles a problem that has plagued the Great Lakes region for decades – how to transform a former manufacturing mecca into a 21st-century knowledge-based economy.  Samuel identifies the following negative trends ailing the Great Lakes region*:

·       out-migration of young, educated workers;

·       failure to replace manufacturing job losses with new growth industries;

·       metropolitan areas that are unable to attract people and businesses

Additionally, Samuel highlights a sad disparity: despite the fact the region contributes 40% of Venture Capital dollars nationwide, produces 31.4% of US patents on annual basis, and receives 35% of NIH grants, only 13.8% of US Venture Capital is invested in the Great Lakes region.  This disproportion is insufficient for a region seeking to re-invent itself; absent significant investments, it will be difficult to compete in changing times.

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