“Connecticut used to lead the world when it came to innovation — we had more patents, more groundbreaking discoveries than anywhere else in the world. Somewhere along the way the world caught up. This is about to change,” announced Governor Dannel Malloy proudly on Thursday, June 20th, as he signed the Next Generation Connecticut bill into law in Hartford.
Image from today.uconn.edu
The bill, SB 840, allocates more than 1.5 billion dollars to the University of Connecticut over the next ten years with the objective of improving and growing the University’s programs in bioscience, engineering, technology, digital media, and other in-demand “fields that we are working so hard to expand here in Connecticut,” according to the Governor.
This will be achieved by hiring new faculty, constructing additional facilities, and renovating and expanding existing spaces. Some of the particulars of the bill include a 30% overall boost in the enrollment rate at UConn’s Storrs and Stamford locations, a 70% increase in the School of Engineering enrollment, and the construction of new tech-oriented laboratories, workshops, classrooms, and other high-tech incubation infrastructure across the state’s seven campuses.
Next Generation Connecticut follows closely the goals and rhetoric of the earlier UConn 2000 and 21st Century UConn programs, both of which were put into law by former Republican Governor John Rowland, which aimed to improve the academic centers and programs for the state’s flagship university both at its main and satellite campuses.
The bill includes a provision to create a committee to formulate a specific plan to implement these funds, whose final recommendations are set to be approved by the University’s Board of Trustees no later than July 1st of 2014.
“Make no mistake, we are making Connecticut competitive again,” the Governor added. Connecticut, as a historical technology and innovation hub, is a formidable legacy to maintain for any modern governor.
It was the Connecticut inventor, David Bushnell, who put the world’s first submarine in the hands of Ezra Lee, the Connecticutian who would become the world’s first submarine pilot in 1776. Connecticut’s fecund soil birthed the cotton gin, the can opener, the vacuum cleaner, color TV, the hamburger, the artificial heart, and ESPN.
Understandably, Governor Malloy wants to keep this legacy alive and ensure that the next generation of innovation and cutting-edge invention comes from well-educated, well-equipped, and motivated scientists, engineers, and designers from the Constitution State.
Next Generation Connecticut is a crucial step in making this a reality in the state, a position that has been echoed by over 100 local businesses and trade groups in a report released a few months back while SB 840 was still in the legislature.
“From the big Fortune 500 companies to small and savvy startups, their public support of Next Generation Connecticut is an affirmation that its economic development mission falls right in line with what they want and need for success,” explained UConn President Susan Herbst upon the presentation of the lengthy endorsement document.
The full text of the legislation can be accessed online, as well.