Vermont Science and Technology Plan

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Vermont Science and Technology Plan
2019 st plan.jpg
Project Information
Has title Vermont Science and Technology Plan
Has owner Ed Egan
Has start date
Has deadline date
Has project status Active
Has project output Tool, Data, Content
Copyright © 2019 All Rights Reserved.


On Friday, April 8th 2022, two UVM administrators presented a draft of the 2022 Vermont Science and Technology Plan on behalf of the Vermont Technology Council, which is currently chaired by David Bradbury, founder of VCET.

Useful links:

On Thursday, April 14th, I returned to the public comment form to find it closed.

Census Data

Census data would be relevant to the report in a number of places. This section provides two examples.

Example 1: Quantifying the Vermont Technology Sector

VTST Plan figure-1.png

The report states (p1):

The numbers tell an interesting story. The number of technology firms operating in Vermont grew
dramatically from 2,367 in 2010 to 3,772 in 2020, an increase of almost 40% (see Figure 1)...

...Although the
size of these industries remains small in comparison to larger states, the growth in these sectors is
indicative of Vermont’s growing position as a digital technology hub. In addition, the number of science
and technology-related occupations in such areas as software engineers and computer and data scientists,
jumped by 3% to 12% over this 10-year period

The source of the data for these claims and Figure 1 is "JobsEQ": The figure shows an annual average growth rate of 5% (compounding to 60% over ten years), which is strong, particularly for a state like Vermont, but not impossible. The scaling of the axis makes it look more dramatic.

The Business Dynamics Statistics data from the U.S. Census is the standard data source for entry and exit and is available at the state-NAICS2 level from 1978 to 2019 (an update is due). There are numerous well-documented issues with using BDS, including that it measures establishments, not firms, and that the Census restricts access to sparse data. See the American Community Survey (ACS) Data page for related information.

BDS VT Technology 1978to2019.PNG


  • Retrieve data from using E:\projects\census\
  • Variable list:
  • Load and process using E:\projects\census\Load_BDS.sql
  • High-tech is defined at a coarse-grain as NAICS 31-33 (Manufacturing), 42 (Professional Services), and 51 (Information) (see the NSF high-tech NAICS codes).
  • Export to excel (E:\projects\Vermont\VTCAnalysisGraphs.xlsx) and create the graph.

The findings are:

  • The BDS data shows a marked decline in technology sector firms and employment beginning around 2001, as was expected for Vermont.
  • Vermont technology sector employment reached a record low in 2010 and is yet to make a meaningful recovery.
  • The JobsEQ data has unknown providence and sampling criteria. It shows the number of technology firms at around the same level as the Census data in 2010 but then JobsEQ data shows dramatic growth while the Census data shows a material contraction. The most likely explanation is that the JobsEQ data is not correctly recording establishment exits.
  • The Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies (VCET) was founded in 2005, before the major collapse of Vermont's technology sector between 2006 and 2010.

Example 2: Quantifying the Vermont Manufacturing Sector

The report later states (p4):

Advanced Manufacturing. Vermont has been a leader in advanced manufacturing dating back to the Industrial Revolution when the town of 
Springfield was known nationally as “Precision Valley” because of the cluster of precision manufacturing firms in the area. 
Supported in part by the efforts of the Vermont Manufacturing Extension Center (VMEC), the Advanced Manufacturing Collaborative, and the 
Vermont Technical College (VTC), Vermont is home to a new advanced manufacturing training center... These investments, made possible by 
Senator Leahy, anchor the state’s ability to train technicians to support the growth of the advanced manufacturing sector in Vermont.
BDS VT Manufacturing 1978to2019.PNG

Restricting the data to just NAICS 31-33 shows that manufacturing in Vermont:

  • Reached an apex around 1998-2000 in terms of both jobs and establishments.
  • Is now at its lowest level on record for employment and near a 40 year for the number of establishments.
  • Declined around five years after the creation of the VMEC.

Grant Data

Grant data would be useful in several places in the report. For example, the report states (p5):

There are a number of networks supporting the bioscience industry in Vermont. For instance, the 
UVM Center for Biomedical Innovation serves as a space to incubate new biosciences technologies,
while the work of the Vermont Biomedical Research Network (VBRN) connects the bioscience 
research community to industry.

It later states (p6):

...Vermont has one of the highest Small
Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) funding rates
per GDP in the country (see Figure 2). Our flagship research university, UVM, has recently cracked
the top 100 public universities for research, while the Vermont Established Program to Stimulate
Competitive Research (EPSCoR) and VBRN continue to facilitate network ties between research
facilities across the state. 

I had Federal Grant Data from the NIH to hand from another project and updated it to 2021. It shows that:

  • UVM and non-UVM NIH grants combined were at record low levels in 2017 and were at their second-lowest level on record in 2021.
  • UVM averaged around 150 NIH grants per year until about 2010. From 2011 to the present, it has averaged closer to 100 grants per year.
  • The total value of NIH grants to UVM also fell in 2011 but has increased somewhat in the last 5 years.
  • Non-UVM NIH grants experienced a boom from 2006 to 2016 but are now back to near-zero levels.

Ranking Vermont's VC

I pulled data from the US Startup City Ranking project, which also provides state rankings, and draws data from VCDB20 to make some graphs showing Vermont's VC over time. Vermont's VC is so small that it is dwarfed by year-to-year national variation, which is one or two orders of magnitude larger. So, as much as we might want Vermont to be something, it is currently very much a rounding error. Its state rank has mostly oscillated between 35 and 40. Its current contemporary states include Alabama, Louisianna, Montana, and Idaho, none of which can be considered successful for their entrepreneurship. Its five-year moving average rank suggests that Vermont's most recent peak was 10 years ago.