The study recommends funding an Equitech Growth Fund and the establishment of an innovation-focused commission
RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. — Researchers at RTI International, a nonprofit research institute, and Keen Point Consulting, have completed an Innovation Competitiveness Study for the Maryland Technology Development Corporation (TEDCO) and Maryland Legislature. The study outlines critical steps needed to cultivate a thriving, inclusive and growing innovation economy, including funding an Equitech Growth Fund and establishing a commission to design a strategic plan to increase both the overall growth rate and the participation of people of color in the high-tech sector.
“The economic data shows that Maryland has a diverse talent base, and residents of all races and ethnicities have responded to high-growth industry and workforce opportunities. For example, Black Marylanders are approaching population parity in computer science and math occupations, representing 27% of the state’s employed tech workforce today,” said Jennifer Ozawa, a senior economist at RTI who led the study. “Continuing to focus on the growth of other high-tech industry sectors and career pathways, where representation of people of color is lower, can change the trajectory of employment growth rates.”
To move to a higher growth trajectory, that study recommends a proactive approach, including developing a comprehensive strategy to stimulate stronger high-tech industry and innovation-led growth, investing to execute that growth, engaging industry and diverse communities and acting quickly to remain competitive with other states in attracting and retaining industry and talent.
“Maryland is known for its long-term investment in its startup ecosystem and work to increase minority business ownership,” said Anthony Gillespie, president, Keen Point Consulting and study co-author. “However, only seven percent of employer firms in the state are Black-owned. Our study recommends more attention and investment in startups and existing minority-owned businesses to support their growth and expansion.”
The study found that Maryland’s overall economic growth rate is slowing, with real gross domestic product growth at 1.0% per year from 2011-2021, indicating a potential negative effect on job opportunities, livelihoods and the state’s overall fiscal health. It notes that the high-tech sector is Maryland’s engine of growth, but the state needs high-tech employment growth of 3% to 4% per year to make it a true innovation leader. The researchers also cited previous studies that highlighted the underrepresentation of people of color and women in high-tech companies and startups in the state.
“The findings of this report confirm what TEDCO has always believed to be true—that Maryland has the potential to be a nationwide leader in technology innovation and growth,” explains Troy LeMaile-Stovall, TEDCO CEO. “It is time for us to reach our full potential by embracing diversity and supporting our underrepresented populations; this starts with the creation of an Equitech Growth Fund and a new commission focused on supporting and growing a thriving, diverse technology sector.”