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What Md.'s economy needs [Commentary]

Maryland's economic success relies on its staggering concentration of scientific talent, superb education, highly competitive businesses and enlightened government. When they all mesh, the state's economy outpaces the competition.

This has earned Maryland a designation by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as the No. 1 entrepreneurial state and a No. 2 ranking by the National Science Foundation for the economic impact of its concentrated research activities.

But to remain competitive, we must build continually on these assets. A new joint legislative agenda, introduced by Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller and House Speaker Michael E. Busch, promises to do this, spurring innovation, creating high-tech jobs and expanding the state's knowledge economy.

The Maryland E-nnovation Initiative offers a state match to private funds raised in support of endowed chairs. This would give Maryland universities up to $100 million to recruit top research talent.

The University of Maryland is about to open its state-of-the-art Physical Sciences Complex. The state invested $120 million to build it. At its center is the Joint Quantum Institute. University scientists and engineers -- including a Nobel Prize winner and a National Medal of Science recipient -- work with colleagues from the National Institute of Science and Technology and an aerospace corporation.

The E-nnovation Initiative will enable us to recruit and retain more star researchers to join this team and pursue the Holy Grail of quantum computing.

The proposed Regional Institution Strategic Enterprise (RISE) Zone program offers financial incentives for economic development and neighborhood revitalization around "anchor" institutions. To attract the world's best talent, it is not enough to have great facilities and endowed chairs. People want to live in vibrant, attractive and convenient communities.

The University of Maryland is working with local and county officials to redevelop College Park into a top-ranked college town with expanded public safety, a public charter school and mixed-use development along Route 1. The designation of RISE Zones in College Park would accelerate these efforts and our upward trajectory as a top-ranked research and innovation university.

This agenda encourages partnerships. As we have discovered in our MPower collaboration with the University of Maryland, Baltimore, strategic partnerships work. By combining our complementary strengths, we have doubled the number of start-up companies spun off from university research in 2013, increased technology licensing by 50 percent and doubled our joint research proposals.

I applaud the proposed legislative agenda for its well-aimed support and incentives. It will help Maryland out-educate, out-innovate and out-compete our global competitors.

Wallace D. Loh is president of the University of Maryland. He may be reached at president@umd.edu and on twitter: @presidentloh.

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