By Denise Perreault
PBN Staff Writer
PROVIDENCE â€“ Now there is a way to measure the progress of the knowledge economy, Rhode Islandâ€™s developing hub of research and technology, thanks to a new report released by the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce Wednesday.
The study, â€śBenchmarking the Rhode Island Knowledge Economy,â€ť looks at 23 indicators in four categories that were â€ścarefully chosenâ€ť to best reflect and assess strengths and weakness of the nascent knowledge economy, according to Laurie White, president of the Chamber. â€śThis is a first step in the data-collection process,â€ť she said.
The report, produced by the Chamber and the R.I. Science & Technology Advisory Council, showed that the knowledge economy is doing well several areas including: patents issued, venture capital investments, academic and nonprofit research and development performance.
Weaknesses include the net migration of 22- to 39-year-olds, state appropriations for higher education, and industry research and development.
Whiteâ€™s comments came during the annual community forum on the knowledge economy, attended by about 200 people and held in a lecture hall of the newly opened Brown University Warren Alpert School of Medicine on Richmond Street in the Knowledge District, a renovated 1928 factory.
The event each year provides an overview of the knowledge-driven economy based in Providence and this yearâ€™s event drew by far the largest crowd in recent years, made up of entrepreneurs, representatives of business innovation support groups, city and state economic development officials and higher-education leaders.
Among the highlights of the last year, White said, was the awarding of $110,000 in grants to seven projects, funded with the help of the City of Providence and the Rhode Island Foundation. â€śClose to $500,000â€ť total has been invested in the knowledge-driven economy, White said, since Chamber-driven efforts to establish the Knowledge District began about five years ago.
This yearâ€™s community forum also was a showcase for 21 local entrepreneurs - most with businesses based in the Knowledge District - who explained to the audience what they do, how they came to establish their enterprises in Providence and their plans for the future. Most of the 21 had received funding from STAC or the Innovation Providence Implementation Council, the Chamber-created body that oversees funding for the knowledge economy.
The benchmarking report was conducted by Camoin Associates and Innovation Policy Works; the executive summary is available at www.providencechamber.com.