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Blog Entries from 2014

Secretary Pritzker Joins PAGE Member Steve Case on Cincinnati Leg of “Rise of the Rest” Road Tour

Secretary Pritzker Joins PAGE Member Steve Case on Cincinnati Leg of “Rise of the Rest” Road Tour

Today U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker visited Cincinnati, Ohio for the “Rise of the Rest” Road Tour to celebrate America’s entrepreneurial spirit and bring attention to emerging startup economies in communities across the United States. The four-city tour, taking place this week in Detroit, Pittsburg, Cincinnati and Nashville is hosted by Chairman and CEO of Revolution and Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship (PAGE) member Steve Case. PAGE is a first-of-its-kind collaboration between eleven of America’s most inspiring and prominent entrepreneurs who are using their experience and expertise to help spur business creation in the United States and around the world.

Entrepreneurship is a key driver of economic growth and job creation. Startups account for 20 percent of new jobs created in the United States and are responsible for adding net new employment to the economy. Secretary Pritzker’s visit to Ohio today is part of the Commerce Department’s ongoing efforts to support and highlight America’s thriving entrepreneurial spirit, celebrate our startup culture, and inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs.

Secretary Pritzker began the day in Cincinnati by delivering remarks about the importance of entrepreneurship at a breakfast event with Cincinnati business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs. In her remarks, she discussed the Administration’s efforts to engage with business leaders and local leaders to foster an economic environment that encourages innovation and entrepreneurship, which spur job growth and competitiveness and promote economic development.

Secretary Pritzker then hopped on the bus and headed to Dotloop, a web-based company focused on creating a platform that would simplify real estate transactions. She then toured Cintrifuse a start-up incubator in downtown Cincinnati where she met with a number of entrepreneurs looking to turn their ideas and inventions into new products and technologies. After her Cintrifuse visit, Secretary Pritzker and Steve Case visited Roadtrippers, a web and mobile app for planning road trips. All of the sites Secretary Pritzker visited today demonstrate the power and potential of great American business ideas.

Later in the day Secretary Pritzker and Steve Case sat down for a fireside chat with Rich Boehne CEO of E.W. Scripps Company at the Brandery, a seed startup accelerator. Speaking before an audience of Cincinnati entrepreneurs, they offered practical advice for young companies from their own experiences building businesses and shared more about what the Administration is trying to accomplish by supporting entrepreneurship through the PAGE initiative. ​

As the Nation Ages, Seven States Become Younger, Census Bureau Reports

As the Nation Ages, Seven States Become Younger, Census Bureau Reports

The median age declined in seven states between 2012 and 2013, including five in the Great Plains, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates released today. In contrast, the median age for the U.S. as a whole ticked up from 37.5 years to 37.6 years. These estimates examine population changes among groups by age, sex, race and Hispanic origin nationally, as well as all states and counties, between April 1, 2010, and July 1, 2013.

"We're seeing the demographic impact of two booms," Census Bureau Director John Thompson said. "The population in the Great Plains energy boom states is becoming younger and more male as workers move in seeking employment in the oil and gas industry, while the U.S. as a whole continues to age as the youngest of the baby boom generation enters their 50s."

The largest decline in the nation was in North Dakota, with a decline of 0.6 years between 2012 and 2013. The median age in four other Great Plains states — Montana, Wyoming,South Dakota and Oklahoma — also dropped. Alaska and Hawaii also saw a decline in median age. (See Table 1.) In addition, the median age fell in 403 of the nation's 3,143 counties, many of which were in the Great Plains. Williams, N.D., the center of the Bakken shale energy boom, led the nation with a decline of 1.6 years. Next to Alaska, North Dakota had a heavier concentration of males (51.1 percent of the total population) than any other state.

The nation as a whole grew older as the oldest baby boomers became seniors. The nation's 65-and-older population surged to 44.7 million in 2013, up 3.6 percent from 2012. By comparison, the population younger than 65 grew by only 0.3 percent.

These statistics released today also include population estimates for Puerto Rico and its municipios by age and sex.

Our nation is a study in contrasts when it comes to local age structure. There was a more than 42-year difference in the median ages of the county with the highest median age — Sumter, Fla., at 65.5 — and the county with the youngest median age — Madison, Idaho, at 23.1.

Intellectual Property Key to Protecting Pharma and Biotech Innovation

Intellectual Property Key to Protecting Pharma and Biotech Innovation

Did you know the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office plays an important role in getting biotechnology and pharmaceutical products to market? Biotech and pharma are major areas of patenting for the USPTO. In fact, since 2009, the USPTO granted more than 31,000 patents in the “Molecular Biology and Microbiology” classification, and about 30,000 in the “Drug, Bio-Affecting and Body Treating Compositions” classification. There has also been a significant increase in recent years in patents granted for medical devices. In 2012, the USPTO granted more than 16,000 patents in that category, a 157 percent increase in five years. 

On Wednesday June 25, Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the USPTO Michelle K. Lee spoke at the BIO International Convention in San Diego, California on the importance of patents in the pharmaceutical and biotech industries. Read Deputy Director Lee’s speech. 

“When you do find that one-in-a-hundred success—that drug that truly works—it’s critical that you have the patent protection necessary to get that drug to market and recoup your investment on the 99 attempts that didn’t succeed,” said Lee. 

The importance of intellectual property in innovation is exemplified through the pioneers and patent holders who were recently inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame, a program managed by the USPTO in partnership with the non-profit Invent Now. 

One of these inductees, Dr. Richard DiMarchi,has received international recognition for the discovery of peptide-based polypharmacy directed at the treatment of diabetes and obesity. He received a patent for Insulin LisPro, better known by its trademarked name, Humalog®, which is currently used daily by more than a million patients with Type 2 diabetes. Dr. DiMarchi continues to engage in research, and recently said that one of his unachieved goals is to focus on a disease like Alzheimer’s, reduce it to a molecular target, and then design a drug that will work in human clinical studies. 

Strong intellectual property is key to protecting innovation in the biotech and pharmaceutical industries, and the USPTO continues to work on the White House executive actions to issue the highest quality patents possible, add transparency to our patent system, and level the playing field for all players. 

Secretary Pritzker Discusses the Importance of a Globally Competitive Workforce at the 2014 CGI America Annual Meeting

Secretary Pritzker Discusses the Importance of a Globally Competitive Workforce at the 2014 CGI America Annual Meeting

At the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) America 2014 Annual Meeting today in Denver, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker spoke about the Commerce Department’s efforts to catalyze job-driven training initiatives and the Obama Administration’s focus on fostering a 21stcentury workforce. Following remarks by former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Secretary Pritzker spoke on a panel moderated by Chelsea Clinton, Clinton Foundation Vice Chair, titled “Charting a New Course: Education and Employing America’s Future Leaders.”

Workforce training is a personal issue for Secretary Pritzker, and she has heard from many CEOs that finding the right workers to fill available jobs is one of their top concerns. That is why Secretary Pritzker has made workforce training a top priority for the Department of Commerce for the very first time.

As Secretary Pritzker noted during the panel, training initiatives must be industry-driven in order to succeed in creating the 21st century workforce that businesses need. The Commerce Department leads a number of initiatives that have already seen progress towards equipping the American workforce with the skills for available jobs. For example, the Department recently launched a membership call for the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship (NACIE), an advisory council that will assists the Department in finding new approaches to industry-led skills training. Secretary Pritzker also recently joined President Obama and Vice President Biden to announce a combined $600 million in Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) and apprenticeship grants, which will enable a number of communities to train workers for careers in cutting edge industries, such as advanced manufacturing, IT, and healthcare.

Commerce in the Community: Rising Tide Capital works to improve traditionally disadvantaged communities by empowering local entrepreneurs to start and grow their businesses.

Alex Forrester, Co-Founder and Cheif Operations Officer of Rising Tide Capital

Ed. Note: This post is part of the Commerce in the Community series highlighting the work of community leaders and organizations that are strengthening the middle class and providing ladders of opportunity for all Americans.

Below is an interview with Alex Forrester, Co-Founder and Chief Operations Officer of Rising Tide Capital, a nonprofit organization that provides high-quality business education and consulting to low- and moderate-income entrepreneurs in Northern NJ. Rising Tide Capital has achieved national recognition for its approach to economic empowerment of low-income individuals and communities through entrepreneurship. In 2009, Rising Tide Capital was selected as a CNN Hero and recognized by President Barack Obama in a White House speech on innovative non-profit organizations.

Q1: Tell us about Rising Tide Capital. What is your mission and main focus?

Rising Tide Capital is a nonprofit organization committed to the economic empowerment of low-income families and communities through entrepreneurship. By providing high-quality business education and consulting services and by partnering with local microfinance agencies, our goal is to help create jobs and economic opportunity in the neighborhoods that need them most by investing in the success of the talented men and women who live there.

We believe in the value of the work we do at Rising Tide Capital because it leverages an immense amount of entrepreneurial activity that is already going on in low-income neighborhoods and tries to invest in those efforts in ways that can confront the extremely challenging context of working poverty in modern America. Due to unemployment, underemployment, and low-wage work, many urban communities have large numbers of poor and working-poor families. These families struggle with financial self-sufficiency and often have difficulty covering basic expenses like rent and electricity. The emotional and psychological stress of financial insecurity—and the anxiety and depression that so often develops—is at the root of what keeps poor communities poor.

Response to NOAA's data RFI - "let's get started." And we are!

National Weather Service Data Visualization

Did you know that NOAA gathers 20 terabytes of data every day - twice the data of the entire printed collection of the United States Library of Congress? This environmental intelligence comes from a wide variety of sources including: Doppler radar systems, weather satellites, buoy networks and stations, computer models, tide gauges, real-time weather stations, as well as ships and aircraft. This network provides valuable and critical data that are instrumental in protecting lives and property across the country. But only a small percentage is easily accessible to the public and, as demand increases for this data and information, NOAA recognized it needed to find ways to effectively and efficiently distribute this data to decision makers and industries.

With that in mind, this past February NOAA announced a new effort to unleash the power of its data to foster innovation, create new industries and job opportunities. NOAA issued a Request for Information, or an RFI, to engage private industry to help make NOAA's data available in a rapid, scalable manner to the public. Through this process, American companies were asked to provide possible solutions for NOAA to be able to turn this untapped information into usable products or services.

So what does this mean to the economy? According to a 2013 McKinsey Global Institute Report, open data could add more than $3 trillion in total value annually to the education, transportation, consumer products, electricity, oil and gas, healthcare, and consumer finance sectors worldwide. If more of this data could be efficiently released, organizations will be able to develop new and innovative products and services to help us better understand our planet and keep communities resilient from extreme events.

NOAA received more than 70 responses to the RFI that closed on March 31st.  Responses came from industry and academia and ranged from single organizations to broad, integrated teams. NOAA has reviewed the responses and is continuing to engage with industry to elicit feedback for the best way to make this data accessible and useful.

Overall, respondents to the RFI provided a clear message - get started. And we heard this again at the Open Data Roundtable last week at the White House. So NOAA is talking to other agencies and formulating a plan for implementing a new, innovative model of public-private partnership around open government data, all in support of the Obama administration’s efforts to make data more accessible. NOAA intends to incrementally implement this partnership by enabling the government and industry to work together by testing the best methods for not just making data available, but creating an ecosystem around the data that will make a meaningful and lasting impact on the economy.

Secretary Pritzker Swears in New Commercial Service Officers

Secretary Pritzker Swears in New Commercial Service Officers

U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker today swore in 24 new Foreign Commercial Service Officers and one Intellectual Property Attachè at the Commerce Department. . The ceremony marked an exciting beginning to these officers’ careers in overseas and domestic markets where they will work to strengthen the American economy by supporting U.S. businesses in the global marketplace.

The administration is committed to increasing U.S. exports, which support millions of jobs.  U.S. exports have set records for four consecutive years, reaching $2.3 trillion in 2013. These exports now support 11.3 million jobs in the United States. The recent launch of the NEI/NEXT campaign by Secretary Pritzker has built on the momentum of the recent growth to encourage American companies to take their business to overseas markets.

Expanding trade and investment is a central part of the Department’s ‘Open for Business Agenda’ and having an overseas presence is one critical way to support U.S. businesses seeking to grow in foreign markets.

During a recent trip to Burma, Secretary Pritzker announced the Department of Commerce will expand its overseas resources to help U.S. businesses navigate additional global markets and sell their goods and services to customers all over the world. The Department’s International Trade Administration will add a total of 68 new positions and open offices in five new countries, including its first in Burma. The expansion is largely focused on fast-growing markets in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.  The Department of Commerce will soon add new offices in Africa and Asia in order to facilitate exports in these critical markets.

The new officers bring a wealth of knowledge and experience from their prior private or public sector service. Of the more than 3,800 candidates, these 25 men and women were chosen because of their constant resourcefulness, tenacity, and of course, diplomacy.

These new Commercial Service Officers play a vital role in the enhancement of American businesses. They support U.S. businesses in overcoming trade barriers, finding global business opportunities and partners, and attracting investment to U.S. shores. These officers will be the boots on the ground, leading the charge to open new markets and helping companies compete in the global marketplace.

Creating More Options to Improve Privacy and Security Online

Creating more options to improve privacy and security online

Guest blog post by Jeremy Grant, Senior Executive Advisor for Identity Management, National Institute of Standards and Technology

It’s well established that diversity of thought and backgrounds strengthens organizations of all kinds and that diversity is a key component of a strong economy. At the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC) National Program Office (NPO), we believe diversity is also the key to establishing a vibrant marketplace of options to replace outdated passwords with reliably secure, privacy-enhancing and convenient ways to prove who you are online.

The Identity Ecosystem Steering Group (IDESG) was launched under the auspices of the NPO but is a privately led group laying the groundwork for that marketplace through policy and standards development. The group held its ninth plenary meeting this week at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg, Md. The meeting brought together a broad coalition of individuals and representatives from industry, privacy and civil liberties advocacy groups, consumer advocates, government agencies, and more, focused on giving people choices when they conduct secure transactions online.

Instead of giving up lots of personal information every time you go online, you could choose who gets what information about you by allowing a trusted third-party to verify your online identity and then assert specific attributes on your behalf—only as needed for a transaction.

At the IDESG meeting, we heard from pilot participant ID.me, which is collaborating with vendors such as Under Armour to provide discounts to military families and first responders. ID.me is in the process of receiving higher level certification for its solution so that users can access government services and medical records.

Listening to Our Data Customers at the Open Data Roundtable

Joel Gurin, Senior Advisor at The GovLab (left) and Acting Deputy Secretary Bruce Andrews

Guest Blog Post by Acting Deputy Secretary Bruce Andrews

It is not hyperbole to call the Department of Commerce,“America’s Data Agency.” Other departments may house major statistical agencies. But none can rival the reach, depth, and breadth of the Commerce Department’s data programs. Our data collection literally reaches from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun.

As a key pillar of our “Open for Business” agenda, bureaus and leaders across the Department of Commerce are determined to maximize the return on our data investments for businesses, government, taxpayers, and communities.

As Ginni Rometty of IBM has said, “Information will be to the 21st century what steam, electricity and fossil fuels were to prior centuries.” The entire team at our Department agrees.

For the first time, Secretary Pritzker has made data a top priority for Commerce – part of the heart and soul for our strategy to strengthen our economy and deliver the tools and information needed to bolster our businesses.

The Secretary knows, as we all do, that gatherings like today’s Open Data Roundtable are essential to building bridges with the private sector, gaining input and feedback, improving our data infrastructure, and developing a system that will outlast any single Administration.

Our goal is to unleash even more government data to help business leaders make the best possible decisions, while creating fertile ground for more startups. The best way to do that is to listen to suggestions from those already using our data – and to get the private sector’s guidance on where the federal government can unlock the greatest value in our data sets.

NOAA Harnesses Digital Technology to Empower Commercial Innovation in Nautical Charts

NOAA harnesses digital technology to empower commercial innovation in nautical charts

The nautical chart – that simple and so very complex map that enables safe navigation over millions of miles of coastal waters – is undergoing a revolution. For two hundred years, NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey has gathered ocean measurements and created the Nation’s nautical charts – on paper. NOAA pioneered digital charts in the 1990s, and demand has grown steadily since then. This year, NOAA decided to shift the focus of chart production to digital products, while still supporting an important (but declining) demand for paper. Using digital technology, cartographers can now use more data at a higher spatial resolution and richer attribution than was possible on paper nautical charts, giving the maritime industry greater navigational intelligence to manage risks.

Last year, Coast Survey beta tested MyNOAACharts, an app for Android tablets that allowed users to download NOAA nautical charts. Users could find their positions on updated charts; they could zoom in on any location, or zoom out for the big picture to plan a day of sailing. Hundreds of users commented during the beta test, providing essential insights, and Coast Survey listened. One key project insight was that Coast Survey’s distribution formats for nautical charts are not well suited to mobile apps. Coast Survey also recognized that there is an innovative and growing commercial market for mobile navigation apps.

With input from the user community in mind, Coast Survey decided to cancel further development of the app and instead refocused efforts on improving the distribution system for charts and other navigation data. This summer, for instance, Coast Survey will make it easier for app developers to use NOAA charts in their products by breaking charts into much smaller “tiles,” which are used widely in mobile apps, web maps, and commercial chart plotters. This will empower the next generation of app developers, chart redistributors and software entrepreneurs to create new navigation products, and speed updated chart information to U.S. boaters.