April 11, 2011
QUESTIONS FOR CONNECTICUT INNOVATIONS, INC. (CII) BOARD CHAIRPERSON NOMINEE
By: John Rappa, Chief Analyst
CHAIRPERSON OF CII'S BOARD OF DIRECTORS (CGS § 32-35)
1. CII is a quasi-public agency that helps entrepreneurs research, develop, and market new technologies through equity investments and technical assistance.
2. CII's board of directors consists of 15 members appointed by the governor and legislative leaders.
3. The chairperson is appointed by the governor, with the approval of both houses of the legislature, and serves a four-year term.
4. Six of the eight members appointed by the governor must be knowledgeable and skillful in developing innovative technology, including academic research, technology transfer and application, and enterprise development.
1. You're in a unique position: the governor has nominated you to head the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) and to chair the state's three quasi-public development agencies—CII, the Connecticut Development Authority, and the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority. What is the benefit of having the DECD commissioner chair the boards of all three agencies? Do you think you can do a good job running DECD and chairing these boards?
2. Nominating you to chair CII and the other two quasi-public agencies suggests that they are related to each other and DECD. Given the interrelationships, would it make sense to merge them into a single, multipurpose development agency, as the Commission on Enhancing Agency Outcomes proposes?
CII AS A QUASI-PUBLIC VENTURE CAPITAL AGENCY
1. As a quasi-public agency, CII receives no General Fund money to pay for salaries, rent, supplies, and other operating costs. Instead, it allocates some of the money it earns on its investments to pay for these costs. How does this fact affect CII's investment decisions? For example, does it cause CII to favor relatively safe investments offering good rates of return over shorter time periods over riskier investments offering higher rates of return over longer time periods?
2. As a quasi-public agency, CII enjoys more autonomy and latitude than a regular state agency. Why does CII need that autonomy and latitude? How different would CII's performance be if it were a department reporting directly to the governor?
3. How does CII encourage its employees to be innovative?
1. What is CII's goal?
2. In what ways does CII influence the state's economic development?
3. What's the difference between CII and private venture capital firms? Does CII compete with these firms? How does the rate of return on CII's investments compare with that of private venture capital firms?
1. Is Connecticut a place that fosters and supports innovation? If it is, how does CII market that fact to the world? Is the marketing effective? Does it attract entrepreneurs, inventors, venture capitalists, and others to Connecticut?
2. The law requires CII and the other economic development agencies to give priority to “high performance work organizations.” How does CII determine if an organization seeking investments is a high performing one?
3. A recent study by the Connecticut Technology Council suggests that innovation is more likely to happen when entrepreneurs, scientists, venture capitalists, and others constantly share ideas and collaborate on solving problems. How does CII nurture and sustain such interaction?
4. How much money does CII invest in university-based research and development that could be used to make products and deliver services? How long does it take such research to make its way to the market? What's CII's rate of return on such investments? How long does it take to realize the return?
5. How much has CII invested in business incubators? How do you measure the success of these facilities? How does the return on these investments compare with the return on investments in new and emerging businesses?
VENTURE CAPITAL TRENDS
1. Last January, Dow Jones reported that venture investments in the nation increased 11% in 2010 over those 2009 and that investments dollars going to the IT and health care sectors dropped while those going to business technologies, consumer solutions, and energy increased. What accounts for these trends? How do they affect Connecticut? Do we have the types of deals venture capitalists are looking for?
2. Does CII invest in projects that are receiving investment capital from private sources? Are private venture capitalists more likely to invest in a project receiving CII investment dollars?
3. How does CII decide which business sectors to invest in? Does it base these decisions on the extent to which an investment can leverage private investment? Or, does it base them on the potential long-term economic benefit to the state? Are these decisions consistent with DECD's five-year strategic economic development plan?