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Big Ideas I

October 5, 2010

In the mid-1980s, 14 semiconductor companies and the federal government formed an alliance to help make the industry more competitive. At the time, there was a real fear that other countries, most notably Japan, were poised to leap past the U.S. in semiconductor R&D and manufacturing. 

Twenty years later, most observers regard Sematech as a remarkable success. Rather than trailing Japan, the U.S. is generally believed to be the leader in semiconductor technology. 

Enter Richard Gephardt, a 30-year member of the House and two-time presidential candidate from Missouri. Gephardt, now associated with the Council for American Medical Innovation, was in town yesterday to advance the concept of a Sematech-like alliance for the bio-pharmaceutical industry. 

The concept is brilliant. It would create high paying jobs, improve health care and reduce health care costs. 

New York, with its concentration of research universities and bio-pharm companies, would be a huge beneficiary. 

Alas, while the benefits are obvious, a source of funding is not. Gephardt’s hope is that with the winding down of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a portion of the hundreds of billions of dollars now being spent by the military could be driven to a new public-private bio-pharm initiative. 

Gephardt warns that other nations, including Great Britain, have similar ideas and have begun the initial planning.  He expressed frustration, though, in getting either the media or politicians to focus on what could be a great opportunity for the U.S.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Mark Keister permalink
    October 5, 2010 11:08 AM

    Ol’ Gep must be smokin some a that medical grade . . . the military will not give up any dollars to anyone – we have a military industrial complex par excellence – why worry about the future? we are enslaved.

  2. Mark permalink
    October 5, 2010 1:00 PM


    Did Dick Gephardt mention on whose behalf he was lobbying? The name of the lobbying firm he represents? His up front compensation for such lobbying? The bonus he stands to receive if New York and the feds come through with the dinero for the project?

    Here’s a couple of tales from The Dallas Morning News, no liberal rag it, about perhaps the Most Dangerous Governor in America, Ricky Perry, and his views toward public-private partnerships. Let me be clear: I do not want Mr. Perry and his pals, or their tactics, in the Empire State.

    Perry’s tech fund aided firms with ties to his donors
    The Dallas Morning News
    12:43 PM CDT on Sunday, October 3, 2010

    When Gov. Rick Perry announces that a company will get money from the
    Texas Emerging Technology Fund, he often describes it as an important
    investment in the state’s future.

    Behind the scenes, some of the governor’s biggest political supporters
    have been making investments of their own – in Perry and in companies
    getting money from the tech fund.

    An investigation by The Dallas Morning News found that more than $16
    million from the Emerging Technology Fund has been awarded to companies
    with investors or officers who are large campaign donors to Perry.

    The governor denied that politics influence his decisions on tech fund

    The fund gives taxpayers’ dollars to promising high-tech startups. It is
    a key part of Perry’s economic development program, which he has touted
    in his re-election campaign against Democrat Bill White.

    The governor’s office administers the tech fund, and the governor must
    approve each award – a system that most other states with tech funds
    avoid to guard against political influence.

    The News found that tech fund money has been awarded to companies with
    which at least eight significant Perry donors are affiliated. Among them:

    $2.75 million to Terrabon Inc., a Houston company. Its backers have
    included Phil Adams, a college friend of Perry’s who has given his
    campaign at least $314,000.

    $1.75 million to Gradalis Inc., a Carrollton firm. Among its investors
    has been Dr. James R. Leininger, who has contributed more than $264,000
    to Perry’s campaigns.

    $1.5 million to ThromboVision Inc., a Houston company. One of its
    investors was Charles W. Tate, who has donated more than $424,000 to

    $4.5 million to Convergen Lifesciences Inc. of Austin. The company was
    founded by David G. Nance, a former Perry appointee who has given the
    governor $80,000.

    $2 million to Seno Medical Instruments Inc. of San Antonio. Its
    investors have included Southwest Business Corp. and its subsidiaries,
    whose chairman, Charles Amato, gave Perry more than $32,000.

    $975,000 to Carbon Nanotechnologies Inc. of Houston. At the time of the
    award, one investor was William A. McMinn, who has contributed $152,000
    to Perry.

    In an interview with The News, Perry said he usually does not know if
    his campaign supporters have financial interests in the companies that
    get tech fund money. “From time to time, I may know someone who has an
    interest in a project. That is a pretty rare occurrence,” he said.

    However, Perry spokeswoman Katherine Cesinger said in an e-mail that
    applicants for technology funding must provide full financial disclosure
    to the governor’s staff, including the names of investors.

    Gov. Rick Perry refuses to release documents from
    Texas Emerging Technology Fund
    By Ryan McNeill
    DMN Investigates
    The Dallas Morning News
    5:41 PM Mon, Oct 04, 2010

    IRVING – Gov. Rick Perry said today that he wouldn’t release documents
    revealing investors in recipients of Texas Emerging Technology Fund

    The governor’s campaign has criticized an investigation by The Dallas
    Morning News that showed more than $16 million in taxpayer money went
    to companies with officers or investors who are major Perry donors.

    Campaign spokesman Mark Miner said the story “dwelled on less than 5
    percent of the $334 million” awarded to Texas companies and higher
    education institutions.

    But The News was unable to review the investors of all tech fund
    recipients because most are private companies. Reporters discovered
    investors by reviewing thousands of pages of documents from other
    sources, such as court filings and personal financial disclosures.

    The governor’s office is told of investors in the tech fund applicants,
    a staffer has said. But Perry’s office has refused to release those
    documents – a stance he reiterated on Tuesday.

    “The issue is there are private sector monies and private sector
    projects and things that are not to be made public because they’re
    proprietary information,” Perry said. “Or there’s private information
    that a private sector company is not going to make public because they
    want to protect that information.”


    In closing, if Dick Gephardt’s in town looking for state bucks for such a public-private partnership, I want Dick to pony up all of the aforementioned information that I requested, the names of his S Corps, the names of his offshore banks, and just how much scratch he – and his lobbying firm – stand to score from such a kill.

    It remains as true as ever before.

    Follow. The. Money.

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