IAN Momentum Continues

Interest in the Council’s Innovation Access Network – or IAN – continues to grow with five new Seeker companies ready to be introduced as part of a formal announcement in conjunction with an IAN Signing Ceremony at the Naval Undersea Warfare Center today in Newport, RI. This marks an important regional expansion of the work being led by the Mass. High Tech Council to promote more effective utilization of our New England innovative technology and research assets.

IAN sponsorship is on the rise with the University of Massachusetts leading the list of University Sponsors looking to leverage IAN as a way to share their incubator technologies with the Seeker Community. IAN is proud to announce the next major enhancement to the IAN portal. With American Airlines anchoring the new list of Sponsors/Resources available to subscribers, IAN is creating a one-stop center to assist with all of your business needs: legal, financial, and more. IAN is also in discussions with technology clusters in Canada, France, Israel, Japan, and the UK to make it a truly global network.

Please reach out to IAN’s VP of Business Development Rick Mahoney directly at rick@innovationaccess.org or 781-890-6482 x15 to discuss IAN membership opportunities.

Council Applauds State Officials for Plan Design Passage

The Council applauds Governor Deval Patrick, Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo, Senate President Therese Murray, House Ways and Means Chairman Brian Dempsey, Senate Ways and Means Chairman Stephen Brewer, and their House and Senate colleagues, as well as municipal and labor officials, for passing groundbreaking legislation to provide cities and towns with more power to enact health insurance plan design. Council Vice President Jim Rooney played an active role on a coalition of business and civic leadership groups convened by The Boston Foundation (TBF) with leadership from the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation (MTF) that played an instrumental role in calling for this reform which promises to save cities and towns currently grappling with budget challenges an estimated $100 million per year.

The new law allows municipalities to make changes to co-pays and deductibles using the state’s Group Insurance Commission as a benchmark while requiring mitigation for retirees, low-wage workers, and high users, and negotiations with unions for 30 days over the terms of new plans. Recent studies by TBF and MTF have shown that municipal employees currently receive disproportionately generous benefits compared with the private sector and state employees and that municipal budgets are unduly strapped due to runaway health care costs at the expense of critical investments in education. During the last decade, $700 million of $1 billion in new state funding for K-12 schools was diverted to health insurance.

The Council has aggressively advocated on this issue in recent years since the quality of life of our cities and towns is a key factor in the location decisions of technology companies and their workforce. The Council was repeatedly highlighted in State House News accounts of this measure as it made its way through the budget process. Click here for recent Coalition statements and here for news coverage.

State Officials Invest in Mass Math and Science Initiative (MMSI)

The Council also enjoyed a legislative win by helping to achieve notable state support for the Massachusetts Math and Science Initiative (MMSI) in the 2012 state budget. Despite significant budget cuts, the Governor and legislative leaders highlighted above provided $400K in state funding to a program from which MMSI will be able to make a compelling case to be funded. MMSI is the leading state provider of advanced placement math, science, and English teacher training in at least 40 school districts. It also was recently recognized as one of six state programs making a significant impact in strengthening the state’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) pipeline “@ scale,” a “seal of approval” designed to encourage further investments in this program (the Council participates in a STEM business leadership advisory council, and called on state leaders to make such a designation).

Council members demand a talented workforce of STEM professionals, and as the Commonwealth seeks to identify STEM programs that work, MMSI dramatically stands out as a proven investment. MMSI has provided training to more than 1,200 high school and middle school teachers in Massachusetts over the past three years and has more than doubled enrollments in Advanced Placement courses in 45 districts, from fewer than 4,000 to nearly 9,000 – about 6,500 students – today. Along with increased enrollment, MMSI schools have seen a 96% increase in qualifying scores on math, science, and English AP exams. For more information, visit MMSI’s site.

Anderson’s Herald Op-Ed Lauds DeLeo, Calls for Pro-BioPharma Growth

On July 15, Council President Chris Anderson wrote an op-ed in the Boston Herald that recognized House Speaker DeLeo’s leadership on policy changes that would make our world-class biopharmaceutical cluster more competitive. In particular, Anderson called on Beacon Hill leaders to match DeLeo’s support for removing the so-called “gift-ban” that puts onerous and redundant restraints on the relationships between doctors and life sciences employers. Anderson noted that this “Massachusetts-only law has created unnecessary red tape for biopharma companies, interrupted the flow of clinical information from manufacturers to doctors, and hurt the state’s convention business.” The House voted to repeal the “gift-ban” but the reform bill was rejected by the state Senate.

Anderson also pointed to the legislature’s lack of action that retains Massachusetts as “the only state that prohibits drug manufacturers from offering coupons or running discount programs, even though they would save consumers – especially those with rare diseases taking expensive therapeutics – significant money in co-pays and deductibles.” Once again, the House showed leadership by voting to strike the coupon ban, but the measure was stopped in the Senate.

The Council is working with its biopharma members and other allies to support these priorities and other initiatives that make Massachusetts more competitive for life science employers. Click here for Anderson’s piece in the Boston Herald.

Tech Health Meetings August 2&10; Feasibility Study Begins September 2011

Earlier this year, the Council introduced Tech Health, a new member-benefit program designed to utilize our considerable buying power as a group to jointly purchase lower cost health insurance aligned with better health management programs, such as WhiteGlove Health, who has agreed to sponsor a majority of the cost of a feasibility study. The Council plans to launch the study in September, and open Tech Health in 2012.

Council members and others interested in learning more about this program are encouraged to attend a meeting and webinar on either August 2, from 8:00-10:00 a.m., or August 10 from 8:00-10:00 a.m. at the Council’s office in Waltham. Contact Jane Stoy at jane@mhtc.org to attend.

Council Opposes Right to Repair Bill

Council Vice President Jim Rooney recently testified against a well-publicized bill that would enable independent automotive repair shops to gain access to the source codes of diagnostic tools used to repair vehicles. These source codes are not currently available to any repairers, including franchisees of the automotive makers, and raise profound intellectual property concerns. No state has passed such a measure, and Congress recently refused to act upon it. A majority of independent repairers in Massachusetts and their trade association actually oppose the bill, with several testifying that, in fact, independent repairers already have full access to all of the diagnostic tools they need once they make modest investments in equipment costs and training. Click here for a copy of Jim Rooney’s testimony, here for a State House News article about the hearing, and here for a copy of Chris Anderson’s opinion editorial in the Boston Business Journal.

Council Hosts Japanese Consul; New Boston to Japan Air Service Announced

On June 21, the Council held a meeting with members of the Japanese Consulate, the Japanese Business Association of New England, and the Japanese Resource Exchange (JREX) to discuss how Japanese technology seekers and innovators benefit from the Council’s Innovation Access Network. Following this meeting, a roundtable dinner was hosted by Japanese Consul General Takeshi Hikihara at his Chestnut Hill residence with 15 Council members. The discussion with Consul General Hikihara focused on the importance of U.S. and Japanese relations and business activities, a timely topic following MassPort’s recent announcement of non-stop service between Boston and Tokyo on Japan Airlines resulting from a culmination of efforts by the Council and other leading state organizations.

Council Co-Sponsors Roundtable with U.S. Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra

Several Council members attended a June 20 roundtable with U.S. CTO Aneesh Chopra at Akamai in Cambridge focusing on Immigration and the Future of America’s Innovation Economy. As U.S. CTO, Chopra works to advance the President’s technology agenda by fostering new ideas and encouraging government-wide coordination to help the country meet its goals from job creation, to reducing health care costs, and to protecting the homeland. The Council co-sponsored the roundtable at the invitation of the White House upon connecting with Chopra in Washington at meetings on HB-1 visas, patent reform, cybersecurity, cloud computing, etc.

Invitations

As part of its strategic partnership with the North Shore Technology Council, the Council is pleased to invite members to attend a presentation by Dr. John Warner of the Warner Babcock Institute for Green Chemistry on “Green Chemistry: New Principles in the Design of Everything – Massachusetts Opportunities.” The event will be held on Wednesday, July 27, 7:00-9:00 a.m. at the Peabody Marriott; cost is $25 for Council members. For more info, visit North Shore Tech Council’s site and/or contact jane@mhtc.org.