As Connecticut considered ways to jump start its economy at a Thursday jobs summit, a Yale administrator said the University remains a vital source of New Haven’s economic growth.
Over 650 workers from both the private and public sectors attended Gov. Dannel Malloy’s Economic Summit to discuss reviving the Connecticut economy. The day-long event, which took place at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford, featured panels and workshops that emphasized commercializing scientific research, re-examining business regulations and supporting small businesses. Experts and participants — including Yale Vice President for New Haven and State Affairs Bruce Alexander — also discussed Yale’s contributions to the Connecticut economy.
“In today’s knowledge economy, economic development starts with a great research university,” said Alexander, who served as a panelist.
Panelist Susan Herbst, president of the University of Connecticut, agreed that there is great potential for economic growth in tech transfer, which is the commercialization of university research. Yale is also committed to increasing the value of its research, according to the Yale Office of Comparative Research, which extends and expands the University’s interaction with the private sector.
Alexander said Yale currently supports its scientists by helping them locate venture capitalists and entrepreneurial managers. He added that Yale, unlike most other nonprofit academic institutions, has taken on a significant civic role in New Haven. The University’s goals in New Haven include economic development, real estate development and promoting neighborhood partnerships.
One way the University pursues these objectives is by supporting students in starting their own businesses over the summer, said Alexander, with the hope that the students and their companies will remain in New Haven after graduation. So far, the program has led to 45 companies which have raised $37 million in outside capital and created 150 jobs, a third of which have remained in New Haven, he added.
Alexander pointed not only to the financial returns of community investment programs but also to the social returns. The state is trying to “create a small-scale Silicon Valley,“ Alexander said — when downtown areas become more prosperous, the resulting restaurants, shops and clubs keep young people, “intellectual capital,” in New Haven.
As for New Haven’s work fostering new businesses, Malloy used the summit as an opportunity to announce that Connecticut would be working with the Startup America Parnership, a company that guides entrepreneurs by providing assistance for their business enterprises.
Scott Case, CEO of the Startup America Partnership, spoke at the summit, explaining that it is time for Connecticut to turn to young companies for job growth and leadership. Startups, he added, are the state’s “silver bullets.”
The Economic Summit was the culmination of Malloy’s Job Tour, in which Malloy and Catherine Smith, commissioner of the DECD, toured the state speaking to businesses about how to create more jobs at a time when the state’s unemployment rate is 9.1 percent. On Oct. 26, the Connecticut Legislature will hold a “jobs special session” focused on the creation and retention of jobs.