BOISE – Governor Butch Otter is standing behind an initiative he hopes will provide a place for high-tech business ideas to flourish in the state. It's called IGEM for Idaho Global Entrepreneurial Mission and is modeled after some successful entrepreneurial programs in Utah and Colorado.
The program calls for $5 million to be set aside for placing interest on the campuses of Idaho's universities that can help both existing and start up businesses grow. That is something Governor Otter says will bring jobs to Idaho.
If the Governor's IGEM initiative passes through the legislature, some of that money will be directed to Boise State University's College of Engineering.
“I think what we would look to do is really focus that in a key area where we can have economic impact and economic development but also support our own students and the research that is happening at Boise State,” said Amy Moll who is the Interim Dean of the College of Engineering at Boise State University.
With the help of the Idaho Technology Council, the IGEM initiative was born. It would increase research at universities, turn that research into businesses and help start-up businesses launch and grow.
Governor Otter included the details of IGEM in his annual State of the State address Monday.
"That will require genuine commitment, some targeted investment, and perhaps most importantly, a significant cultural change in how our universities approach research and working with industry,” said Governor Otter.
“We have lots of ideas but the problem is we don’t always have the resources.” BSU professor Darryl Butt. He also the Associate Director of the Center for Advanced Energy Studies or CAES which is supposed to get some of those IGEM funds. CAES is a research and education partnership between many of Idaho’s universities and colleges. Butt said Governor Otter already gives CAES money which pays off through competitive grants.
“It's not the kind of thing you can expect to get a return on your investment in terms of jobs in a year or two, it's something that is probably going to take several years,” said Butt. Still, he believes in the initiative.
“I feel like I am doing something that matters,” he said.
“I am excited that Idaho is willing to invest in this area and I think it's our responsibility for the money that comes to Boise state to make sure we use it wisely,” said Moll.
IGEM is still just a proposed initiative; it must pass through the legislature. In his State of the State speech, Governor Otter asked for support.