Adding to the mix: Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry has endorsed a relaxation of the federal governments stem cell research policy, which could be reversed by an order from the president. And many of those supporting Prop 71 in Silicon Valley have also been big Democratic party supporters. All this politicking raises the measures profile, says spokesman Roger Salazar. "It just underscores the importance of getting a revenue stream for this research," he says. "This takes it out of the political arena," by making sure researchers have the funds to do the work they need.So its not surprising that venture capitalists up and down the valley, many of them funders and founders of some of the better-known biotech firms, have ponied up. USA Today has reported that the initiative has raised almost $2 million from the valley. All told, the effort has $5.3 million to spend to assure passage. "Its going to have tremendous impact on the biotech sector, Salazar said. eWEEK.com Technology and Politics columnist Chris Nolan spent years chronicling the excesses of the dot-com era with incisive analysis leavened with a dash of humor. Before that, she covered politics and technology in D.C. You can read her musings on politics and technology every day in her Politics from Left to Right Weblog. Check out eWEEK.coms Government Center at http://government.eweek.com for the latest news and analysis of technologys impact on government practices and regulations, as well as coverage of the government IT sector.
But high-minded research isnt all thats at work here. Prop 71 is a jobs bill for the state. Proponents say it will return $700 million to the state in the first five years, and Silicon Valley is in good shape to be one of the focal points of that spending. Near three universities, the San Francisco Bay area has a good shot at being the research institutes home base. Biotech is an increasing part of Silicon Valleys economy. San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom recognized as much when he included a tax break for biotech firms in his recent city budget, hoping to encourage firms funded in Silicon Valley to locate in the city.