Legislators warn advocates of high technology

January 18, 1991|By David Conn | David Conn,Annapolis Bureau of The Sun

ANNAPOLIS -- Maryland's high-technology boosters plied state lawmakers yesterday with crab cakes and chocolate mousse, and then pleaded their case for increased funding.

But they received a stern warning in reply: Start showing some results or the state might pull the plug on future funding.

"We think that the Legislature has made good progress on [funding hi-tech] issues in recent sessions," said Robert Keller, president of the Greater Baltimore Committee, whose High Technology Forum co-sponsored the luncheon with the Montgomery County High Tech Council.

"But we dare not -- dare not -- rest on our laurels," Mr. Keller said. He and Walter Plosilla, president of the Montgomery group, asked the lawmakers to retain in the governor's budget a reported $7 million for three communications and biotechnology projects proposed around the state.

Delegate Howard P. "Pete" Rawlings, D-Baltimore, chairman of an appropriations subcommittee responsible for funding high-technology concerns, stressed the importance to Maryland's economy of the emerging industries.

But Mr. Rawlings also issued a warning about ignoring the need to commercialize technology in a state whose forte is primarily basic and applied research.

"We are strong in the beginning area -- research -- and we are very weak in transfer and commercialization," Mr. Rawlings said.

He suggested that it might be time for "accountability" on behalf of the institutions that receive state funding.

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