Reports highlight region’s position as tech standout

Two reports by the Brookings Institution, a national public-policy group, illustrate the rising prominence of Boulder County and Colorado as centers of technology and innovation.

The first of the Brookings studies, “Patenting Prosperity: Invention and Economic Performance in the United States and its Metropolitan Areas,” ranked Boulder County No. 33 in the nation in the number of patents filed per year from 2007 to 2011, and No. 5 in terms of patents filed per capita.

Separately, the Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings touted Colorado’s strength in the aerospace sector, including companies that reap large contracts from the U.S. military, NASA and civilian customers. Aerospace ranks as a leading industry in Boulder County, with companies such as Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., DigitalGlobe Inc., Sierra Nevada Corp. and others.

The Brookings aerospace report concluded that Colorado could emerge as the dominant state for the industry if it can capitalize on private companies, research institutions and military assets, Boulder County Business Report staff writer Michael Davidson noted in a recent report.

While these studies highlight the increasing prominence that Boulder County and Colorado enjoy on the national tech scene, they do not ensure that this progress will continue.

Sound public policy is essential to preserve and grow our technology base.

Competition from other parts of the country is increasing, even as federal budgetary woes call into question a major source of funding for innovation.

As the federal budget suffers, we’re encouraged by a more-positive outlook for state finances. Critical will be increased funding for institutions of higher education.

State and local officials should not take for granted the innovation and job creation that grabs headlines nationally.

It could all go away.

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