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Commerce’s Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship Invests in the Jobs and Industries of the Future

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Guest blog by Matt Erskine, Acting Assistant Secretary for Economic Development

To mark the one-year anniversary of the White House Startup America Initiative, in January President Obama sent Congress a proposal to expand tax relief and unlock capital for startups and small businesses that are creating jobs.

When he launched the initiative a year ago, the president sought to promote the success of entrepreneurs across the country. The private sector responded with the Startup America Partnership, launching new entrepreneurial networks all across the country. AOL co-founder and member of the President’s Jobs Council, Steve Case, and the Kauffman Foundation joined to form the Startup America Partnership, which is a nonprofit alliance of entrepreneurs, major corporations and service providers that has mobilized more than $1 billion in business resources to serve as many as 100,000 startups over the next three years.

This year, the administration unveiled several new agency actions to accelerate the growth of young, job-creating companies, at the same time that new entrepreneur-led regional coalitions are launching throughout the nation.

One of those efforts will fuel regional innovation. In the coming months, the Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA), along with several Federal partners, will launch the third round of the i6 Challenge, a multiagency competition which funds regional collaborations to bring innovative, ground-breaking ideas from the lab to the marketplace, creating new startups and jobs across the country. Commerce is also launching a new initiative to connect entrepreneurs with the resources made available through the Startup America Partnership and its partners.This week, I attended the grand opening of the Global Center for Medical Innovation (GCMI), the Southeast’s first comprehensive medical device innovation center and an effort funded by the i6 Challenge. Located in the Atlanta innovation hub—in close proximity to Georgia Tech and Hartsfield International Airport—GCMI has already generated a significant return on investment and leveraged millions in private-sector investment. Federal funds are helping to build and equip a prototyping design and development facility that will accelerate the commercialization of next-generation medical devices. GCMI will help new product teams shorten time to market, enhance their product development, and achieve significant cost savings—both through its prototyping design and development facility and through GCMI’s initiative to create new approaches for identifying, developing, and moving technology into the marketplace. These efforts will create new jobs and economic activity.

An innovative public-private partnership, GCMI is a partnership of four of Georgia’s leading research and health care organizations: the Georgia Institute of Technology, Saint Joseph’s Translational Research Institute (SJTRI), Piedmont Healthcare, and the Georgia Research Alliance. GCMI brings together core members of the medical device community, including universities, research centers, clinicians, established device and drug companies, investors, and early-stage companies, with the goal of accelerating the commercialization of innovative medical technology. Looking to increase their global competitiveness, GCMI is developing a medical device partnership with the National University of Ireland in Galway through Georgia Tech, which has relationships and a facility there.  

Innovation centers like GCMI are vital to America’s economic future. GCMI will help the Atlanta Region—and the entire southeastern United States—accelerate the development and commercialization of next-generation technology. The i6 Challenge will continue to reward innovative ideas and promote the commercialization of federally-funded research to accelerate and maximize the economic benefit of our nation’s investment in research and development, foster high-growth entrepreneurship, and support the development of innovation ecosystems.

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Electricity on Grid via Solar PV

I have researched, via the Internet, the vast number of scientists throughoutthe world who have and are developing much better ways of using the power from the sun to supply electrical power. My 50 years of education (MS Electrical Engineering, USU, 1986) and experience (US Aerospace Companies) is in electricity.

What the US needs to do is utilize the best ideas in producing Solar Power Plants in this country and for export to other countries. We should not try to "capture" the market, but to contribute to the market. Because the technology is rapidly advancing, we have to build/convert factories that can do two things: 1) Start turning out structures that can immediately be "put-in-the-sun" and be tied to the US Power Grid. 2) Design the factories to be "robust" enough to adapt to and utilize the latest and best Photo Voltaic. If we do this we can immediately create new jobs for Americans. The sustaining employment will come from building new factories, producing product, and "tending" the new Solar PV "farms".

I have several innovative ideas for the structures that support and place the Solar PV "into-the-sun"---particularly the new non-silicon (and even flexible, thin silicon) sheets (ribbons).