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Blog Entries from 2014

USPTO Deputy Director Michelle Lee Discusses Entrepreneurship and Job Creation at the Virginia Innovation Partnership Virginia Ventures Forum

Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Michelle K. Lee addressed the Virginia Ventures Forum, a meeting of the statewide Virginia Innovation Partnersh

Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Michelle K. Lee today addressed the Virginia Ventures Forum, a meeting of the statewide Virginia Innovation Partnership (VIP) at the USPTO.  One of only seven multi-institution initiatives to win federal funding from the U.S. Department of Commerce's i6 Challenge in 2012, VIP is bringing together universities, community colleges, corporations, investment capital, and other resources to drive promising research discoveries forward and accelerate innovation and economic growth throughout the Commonwealth.

Some of VIP’s funded projects for 2013-14 included “Development of a novel chimeric vaccine for tick-transmitted disease” at Virginia Commonwealth University, “Laser Modification of Metallic Surfaces for Industrial Applications” at the University of Virginia, and “Next Generation Diagnostics” at George Washington University.  All Virginia colleges and universities were invited to apply for proof-of-concept funding.  Projects selected by VIP’s review and advisory boards were granted access to VIP’s expansive mentoring network and matching funds from VIP partners.  It is the Partnership’s hope that the VIP will serve as a model for adoption by other states as well.

“By working together,” Lee said at today’s event, “government, universities, and private enterprise can spur innovations that make our world a better place, while fueling entrepreneurship and job creation in Virginia and beyond.”

Also speaking at the Forum were Tom Skalak, Vice President for Research at the University of Virginia; Matt Erskine, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Economic Development at the Department of Commerce; and Aneesh Chopra, senior advisor to The Advisory Board Company and the nation’s first Chief Technology Officer from 2009-12.

Celebrating the 20th Anniversary of AmeriCorps and Our Country’s Commitment to Public Service

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Celebrating the 20th Anniversary of AmeriCorps and Our Country’s Commitment to Public Service

Guest blog post by Joshua Dickson, Director, Department of Commerce’s Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships 

Our country is built on a deeply-held commitment to service and community. From our women and men in uniform to our educators to those who administer important government programs, each day millions of Americans give of themselves to ensure the safety, hope and livelihood of their neighbor.  Without a doubt, one of the great things about the United States is the way in which the success of each of us is tied to the success of all of us. 

The AmeriCorps national service program, which celebrates its 20th Anniversary today, is a fantastic representation of this. AmeriCorps engages more than 75,000 Americans in intensive service each year at nonprofits, schools, public agencies, and community and faith-based groups across the country. Since the program’s founding in 1994, more than 900,000 AmeriCorps members have contributed more than 1.2 billion hours in service across America while tackling pressing problems and mobilizing millions of volunteers for the organizations they serve. 

I had the honor to serve with AmeriCorps and it was a transformational experience. As a kindergarten teacher on the South Side of Chicago with Teach For America, I saw firsthand the inequities faced by too many Americans living in low-income communities around the country. My students, 100% of whom were on free or reduced-price lunch, entered school with tremendous eagerness and aptitude. At the same time, they faced the daunting reality that, in Chicago, they have just a 60% chance of graduating from high school. And I saw the way in which the obstacles brought on by poverty can play a role. Whether it was the inability to afford appropriate school supplies, the lack of access to high-quality pre-school or tutoring services, or having to skip meals once the school day commenced, my students faced a litany of challenges simply based on the circumstances they were born into. 

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Welcomes Chinese Delegation

Deputy Director Michelle K. Lee discussed a number of key intellectual property (IP) issues at the Intellectual Property Rights Working Group meeting of the Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT)

On September 11, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Deputy Director Michelle K. Lee discussed a number of key intellectual property (IP) issues at the Intellectual Property Rights Working Group meeting of the Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT), co-chaired by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.

Deputy Director Lee welcomed Assistant Minister of the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, TONG Daochi and his delegation of Chinese IP officials this week for the opening of the JCCT meeting. The meeting included a tour of USPTO headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia, and commemorated 35 years of USPTO and U.S. Commerce Department training and assistance on IP matters with China.

In her remarks, Deputy Director Lee said, “We maintain close and effective office-to-office relationships with our counterpart agencies in China and have a strong history of collaboration. Our relationship rests on a firm foundation and we look forward to expanding our engagement and exchanging ideas in the future.”

The Chinese delegation visited the Global Intellectual Property Academy, a facility which serves as the U.S. government’s preeminent facility for enabling exchange of thoughts and ideas concerning intellectual property. Then they participated in the JCCT meeting, which covered patent, trademark, copyright, and trade secret issues that are at the forefront of the U.S.-China relationship.

Updated “Whale Alert” iPad, iPhone app invites public to contribute to protection of West Coast whales

Updated “Whale Alert” iPad, iPhone app invites public to contribute to protection of West Coast whales

Mariners and the public on the U.S. West Coast can now use an iPad™ and iPhone™ to help decrease the risk of injury or death to whales from ship strikes. 

Whale Alert, a free mobile application originally developed in 2012 to help protect endangered right whales on the East Coast, has been updated with new features to provide mariners in the Pacific with the most current information available about whale movements and conservation initiatives. The app uses GPS, Automatic Identification System, Internet and NOAA nautical charts to provide mariners with a single source of information about whale locations and conservation measures that are active in their immediate vicinity.
 
Slow-moving whales are highly vulnerable to ship strikes, since many of their feeding and migration areas overlap with shipping lanes. In 2007, four blue whales were killed by confirmed or likely ship strike in and around the Santa Barbara Channel. NOAA Fisheries declared this an Unusual Mortality Event. In 2010, five whales (two blue, one humpback and two fin whales) were killed by confirmed or likely ship strikes in the San Francisco area and elsewhere along the north-central California coast.
 
Whale Alert has been developed by a collaboration of government agencies, academic institutions, non-profit conservation groups and private sector industries, led by NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries. Collaborating organizations include Bioacoustics Research Program at Cornell University, Cape Cod National Seashore, Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping at the University of New Hampshire, Conserve I.O., Excelerate Energy, EOM Offshore, International Fund for Animal Welfare, Massachusetts Port Authority, NOAA Fisheries, National Park Service, Point Blue Conservation Science, U.S. Coast Guard and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, as well as shipping industry representatives.
 
Whale Alert can be downloaded free of charge from Apple’s App Store.

You Don’t Have to Start a Business to Think Like an Entrepreneur

You Don’t Have to Start a Business to Think Like an Entrepreneur

Guest blog post by Jay Williams, Assistant Secretary for Economic Development

One of my favorite things about my time as Mayor of Youngstown was having the opportunity to go out and speak to students in local schools. I found myself inspired and energized by their enthusiasm and idealism. It’s so easy to get cynical in this world, but young people tend to be optimistic about the future, and it’s nice to be reminded that there are infinite possibilities for all of us – even those of us who have been out in the world for a while. 

I have had the opportunity to speak to many different audiences in my previous role as the executive director of the auto recovery office and recently as Assistant Secretary. But last week, I got to get back to what I love when Montgomery College invited me to address its Business and Economics majors. 

I was humbled by the turnout – in a room that had more than 75 seats, there was standing room only. Most of the students in attendance were minorities or immigrants, and it was very meaningful to me to be able to address such a group as an official of the Obama Administration.

After a brief overview of my background and what EDA does, I turned the floor over to the students. I wanted to know more about them. I had been told by the faculty that many in the audience hoped to be entrepreneurs and start their own businesses someday. As I listened to their business ideas, I thought about our work with EDA. These students are on a continuum, much like the communities we help. Some just have an inkling that they want to be their own bosses while others wanted to know how they could make money of a fully fleshed out idea. Some need help with planning while others need help securing capital.

NOAA Ship & National Aquarium Co-Host Star-Spangled Events & Tours

NOAA Ship & National Aquarium Co-Host Star-Spangled Events & Tours

On Sept. 10, NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer, America’s Ship for Ocean Exploration, joined a parade of tall ships, Navy vessels, and other boats entering Baltimore Harbor as part of the Star-Spangled Spectacular, a week-long festival celebrating the 200th anniversary of the national anthem. 

Okeanos Explorer will be moored next to the National Aquarium through Sept. 16. During that time, the Aquarium and the ship will co-host a range of events, including public tours. 

Star-Spangled Spectacular events also include living history demonstrations, a family fun zone, live musical performances, and food vendors. Public events culminate on Sept. 13, when two concerts will take place, as well as a fireworks display over Fort McHenry and the Baltimore harbor. For more information about NOAA and National Aquarium-hosted events go to http://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/about/what-we-do/oer-updates/2014/baltimore-090914.html

The Okeanos Explorer is the only federal vessel assigned to systematically explore the ocean for the purpose of discovery and the advancement of knowledge. She methodically maps the deep seafloor and conducts several major expeditions each year using a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) to investigate seafloor habitats. ROV expeditions are live-streamed to the oceanexplorer.noaa.gov website, where anyone can follow along as a virtual explorer. Through telepresence technology, scientists on shore are able to participate remotely in real time, helping aid in discovery and identification of species, geological features, and other deep-sea phenomena. Okeanos Explorer is in port between Legs II and III of her current expedition, Our Deepwater Backyard: Exploring the Atlantic Canyons and Seamounts. The expedition, taking place Sept. 16-Oct. 7, will explore the diverse deep-sea environments just off the Northeast coast—in other words, within a couple of hundred miles of one of the most densely populated areas of the U.S.  This area is home to deep-sea corals, chemosynthetic communities, and unique geological features. Much of the area is unknown and has never been seen by humans. 

 



President’s Export Council to Participate in Administration’s First-Ever Fact-Finding Mission

President’s Export Council to Participate in Administration’s First-Ever Fact-Finding Mission

Guest blog post by Stefan M. Selig, Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade

Yesterday, Secretary Pritzker and I announced that we will lead a high-level delegation on an economic fact-finding trip to Poland and Turkey later this month. I am excited to participate in the first PEC fact-finding mission for the Obama administration. 

That delegation — members of the President’s Export Council (PEC) — is the principal advisory committee on international trade to the president. It includes both public officials and private sector leaders. 

The private sector leadership that will participate during the trip represent many of the most successful and important companies doing business globally today. That includes the PEC vice chair, Ursula Burns, Chairman and CEO of Xerox Corporation. 

CEOs and senior executives from Lockheed Martin, Marriott International, Archer Daniels Midland, Boeing, Dow Chemical, eBay, IBM, and Pfizer, among others, will also participate in the fact-finding mission. 

With Poland as the sixth largest economy in the EU, and Turkey tripling its GDP per capita since 2002, the trade and investment opportunities are plenty and promising, particularly as they relate to economic growth for American businesses. 

After exploring potential opportunities in these countries, the PEC will report its findings to President Obama later this year. This trip is also an occasion for both the administration and American businesses to expand its presence in the field of commercial diplomacy. Working together as partners, we are deepening U.S. economic ties and continue to strengthen our presence on the global stage. 

In fact, one of the reasons I am excited to lead ITA at this moment in time, is because I believe we have a significant role in shaping international economic priorities.  

We can drive commercial diplomacy to new heights. 

From our Doing Business in Africa campaign, which helps facilitate business deals that result in trade-based development for the continent and jobs for the United States, to our Look South Initiative, which is designed to increase trade and investment with our neighbors to the south, or trade missions that promote clean, renewable energy throughout the world, the linkages between our trade and our diplomatic priorities is clearer than ever. 

For more information about the PEC, its members, or history, visit http://trade.gov/pec. Stay tuned for our report to the president. 

The Survey of Business Owners and Self-Employed Persons Is Key to Explaining America’s Economy

The Survey of Business Owners and Self-Employed Persons Is Key to Explaining America’s Economy

Cross blog post by John Thompson, Director, U.S. Census Bureau

Did you know that there are 27.1 million non-farm businesses in America? The U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Business Owners and Self-Employed Persons provides the only comprehensive source of statistics about business ownership in the U.S. The Census Bureau conducts the SBO every five years. This is the first time the SBO is being conducted primarily online.

If you own a business, such as a salon or a landscaping company, you may be one of the one million Americans selected to participate in the Survey of Business Owners. Even if you do not have employees other than yourself, we want to hear from you. By participating online now, you can help provide consistent, comparable, and comprehensive statistics on U.S. business performance. For example, the 2007 SBO showed us that 5.9 percent of responding firms reported income from e-commerce – an important insight into how the Internet is shaping our economy.

Right now we are in the process of asking respondents to fill out the Survey of Business Owners, which is part of, and benchmarked to, the 2012 Economic Census. We begin the Survey of Business Owners after the data collection phase of the Economic Census is complete. It provides information every five years on business characteristics (e.g., if a business is home-based, or how much start-up capital it received) and owner characteristics (such as gender, race and ethnicity, and veteran status) for businesses of all sizes across America.

Businesses of all sizes are crucial to the U.S. economy and having quality statistics on businesses is critical. Some of the ways that government leaders and others use SBO statistics include:

  • Business owners are able to analyze their operations in comparison to similar firms, compute their market share, and assess their growth prospects.
  • Entrepreneurs can make informed decisions about what types of products and services to sell, and where to sell them. They can also use SBO data in business plans and loan applications.
  • The Small Business Administration can assess business assistance needs and allocate available resources.
  • Local government commissions are able to establish and evaluate contract procurement practices.
  • Federal, state, and local government agencies have a framework for planning, directing, and assessing programs that promote veteran-, women-, and minority-owned businesses.
  • Researchers can analyze long-term economic and demographic shifts, and differences in ownership and performance among geographic areas.

“Built to Last” – Secretary Pritzker Talks to Investors about the Build America Investment Initiative

 Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker discussed the Administration’s efforts to “Build America” at the Infrastructure Investment Summit hosted by the U.S. Departments of Treasury and Transportation.

Today, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker discussed the Administration’s efforts to “Build America” at the Infrastructure Investment Summit hosted by the U.S. Departments of Treasury and Transportation.  The Summit brought together senior Administration officials and more than 100 leaders from industry, finance, philanthropy, and local and state governments to highlight the urgent need to invest in our country’s infrastructure, build public-private partnerships, and develop strategies for increasing investment in sectors like transportation, water, telecommunications, and energy.

During her address, Secretary Pritzker described the central role the Department of Commerce is playing in expanding infrastructure investments and facilitating connections between government, investors, and local leaders.

The Secretary outlined several of the ways the Department is taking the lead. First is through SelectUSA, the first-ever government-wide program designed to attract and retain investment in the United States, which works to connect current and potential investors with local communities interested in attracting infrastructure investment.

Second is the work of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), which has strengthened our digital infrastructure though more than $4 billion in grants since 2009 to increase broadband access to underserved communities in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

1776 Roundtable: Businesses Growing Out of Data

Under Secretary Mark Doms Addresses Entrepreneurs at 1776

Guest blog post by Mark Doms, Under Secretary for Economic Affairs

This morning, I visited start-up hub 1776, to discuss the Department of Commerce’s efforts to make government data more accessible and informative – to build businesses, grow the economy and help governments and individuals make more informed decisions.

One of my roles as the Under Secretary for Economic Affairs is to connect with our data users, (our customers), to discuss our strategic initiatives in the data space, and gather feedback from interested businesses, government officials, and the public.

At 1776, we met with key stakeholders from innovative start-ups like ID.me, Haystack, Narrative Science, Brigade, Ride Scout (just purchased by Daimler), and firms like Yelp, which has graduated from the start-up phase to employ thousands with offices around the world.

All are users of federal, state and local data, and all are making a contribution to our economy, through employment and the deployment of new technologies that spur innovation and improve peoples’ lives. It was a great conversation, and we gathered some excellent ideas to explore, such as the possibility of using private sector developed APIs for public sector data dissemination.

As a convener and facilitator of world class talent, 1776 sets the model for start-up hubs across the country. Thanks to our hosts and participants for a great event!