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Blog Category: Innovation

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.

Deputy Secretary Blank Speaks on the Role of Innovation in the U.S. Economy

Deputy Secretary Blank speaks on innovation at National Press Club

Guest blog post by Deputy Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank 

This afternoon, I had the honor of addressing an annual conference on innovation, sponsored by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to promoting a greater understanding of how the economy works. Today’s event, entitled “Innovation Policy and the Economy,” provided an opportunity to discuss one of the most important contributors to America’s long-term competitiveness: innovation. 

America’s entrepreneurs, businesses, and workers are the primary source of new ideas that drive innovation. Patents, trademarks, and copyrights–the main protections in our intellectual property (IP) system–are critical tools that help commercialize game-changing ideas. By creating a better environment for our private sector to capitalize on those ideas, IP protections help foster the innovation and creativity that lead to a stronger economy and the creation of more, good-paying jobs. 

A Cross-Country Tour of American Ingenuity

USPTO Director Kappos engages with an audience member at an American Invents Act roadshow

Guest blog post by David Kappos, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)

As I flew into the Windy City today, I couldn’t help but marvel once again at the ideas and innovations that continue to shape our lives in a myriad of ways we take for granted—from the thousands of components and systems in the airplane that brought me here to chips in my smartphone—patented and trademarked technologies that seek protection from the United States Patent and Trademark Office are constantly shaping the way we conduct our daily lives.

So in order to best communicate historic changes to our nation’s patent system, I hit the road. And ever since kicking off our America Invents Act (AIA) roadshows in Alexandria, Virginia on February 17, Deputy Director Terry Rea and I have been privileged to meet with some of the inventors and entrepreneurs behind our nation’s greatness—remarkable men and women in exciting hotbeds of innovation as diverse as Sunnyvale, California; Salt Lake City; Dallas; Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Boston; and Chicago, with a final hearing to be held in San Diego on Friday.

The goal of these roadshows and hearings has been twofold: first, to explain the thinking behind the proposed rules for various provisions under the AIA—including new systems to challenge and evaluate patents, like supplemental examination, inter partes review, and post grant review. And second, to conduct a spirited and productive dialogue with our user community, whose input is vital to our mission of building a 21st century patent system. These efforts not only help advance President Obama’s strategy for unleashing American innovation, but it also supports Secretary Bryson’s commitment to leveraging intellectual property to boost American manufacturing, American exports and American jobs.

Advancing Economic Development Strategies: the First White House Community Partnership Summit, Atlanta, GA

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Guest blog post by Deputy Assistant Secretary for Economic Development and Chief Operating Officer for Economic Development Administration Matt Erskine

Hundreds of small business owners, community leaders, and state and local elected officials in Atlanta, Georgia, convened during the first in a series of White House Community Partnership Summits today for the opportunity to meet face to face with senior Obama administration officials and discuss key local issues.

I had the pleasure of representing the Commerce Department and engage participants about steps the administration is taking to promote economic and job growth in Georgia and across America. I especially enjoyed the open space dialogues where participants set the agenda and identify action steps with officials.

Why Investing in R&D Matters

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What do the electric light bulb, the internal combustion engine and the transistor have in common? They are all examples of how innovative ideas can bring rapid change and growth to our economy. Innovation has long been recognized as an important driver of economic growth.  New ideas can spark wave upon wave of new goods and services that literally transform the economy, making it more robust and vibrant.

What exactly is innovation? A precise explanation can be elusive, but common to every definition is the idea of realizing commercial value by creating something that did not previously exist. And, while economists agree that innovation is important for economic growth, actually measuring it is quite a challenge. Innovation is what’s known as an intangible asset. It’s hard to quantify. Understanding the role of intangible assets–and thus the role of innovative activity in general–is critical to understanding the modern economy.

Commerce Secretary John Bryson Visits Manufacturing Facility in Columbus, Ohio

Secretary Bryson learning about the newest line of Entrotech lacrosse handles

Today, three days after attending the president’s State of the Union address, Commerce Secretary and former CEO John Bryson traveled to Columbus, Ohio, where he toured Entrotech, a manufacturing facility, and met with local business leaders. The Secretary also toured EWI before giving brief remarks about the Department of Commerce’s focus on supporting American manufacturers so they are able to build their products in America and sell them everywhere around the globe.

Following his remarks, the Secretary participated in a White House Business Council Roundtable discussion with business leaders. The final stop was at the Battelle Memorial Institute in Columbus, directly adjacent to Ohio States campus, where the Secretary saw old innovations, such as one of the first Xerox copiers, to the latest technologies in development.

The Commerce Department’s SelectUSA program is helping ensure that more domestic and foreign firms are investing here in the U.S. We want to build on the momentum that we see in bringing jobs back. That’s exactly what companies like Entrotech are poised to do. They are generating innovative ideas on product design and development that can change entire industries, making them more globally competitive.

Acting Deputy Secretary Rebecca Blank Visits Tech Town in Dayton, Ohio

Acting Deputy Secretary Blank Inspects an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle

Two days after President Obama laid out plans in his State of the Union address to support innovation and bolster U.S. manufacturing, Acting U.S. Deputy Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank visited Tech Town, a premier commercial technology campus, in Dayton. There, she toured UA Vision and Persistent Surveillance, startup companies that are commercializing federally-supported research, and delivered remarks about the importance of investing in innovation and a skilled labor force to create jobs in a 21st century economy.

While in Dayton, Blank also participated in a roundtable with local business leaders to discuss how Department of Commerce resources can help them become more innovative and competitive. In addition, she toured the Wright-Patterson Air Force Research Laboratory, a major area job magnet which conducts critical research and development work, among other services.

The Commerce Department is also working hand-in-hand with local companies to continue innovating and exploring. Through the Ohio Manufacturing Extension Partnership, Commerce has worked with more than 300 companies in southwest Ohio. Commerce’s Economic Development Administration even teamed up with the state to help build Tech Town. 

Acting Deputy Secretary Blank Tours CES Promoting American Innovation and Competitiveness

Acting Deputy Secretary Blank and Dean Kamen Listen on a Panel

On Thursday, Acting Deputy Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank visited the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, where she delivered opening remarks and participated in a panel discussion. The panel, titled “Getting Us Back on Track: How Technology and Innovation Can Save America” focused on the integral role innovation and technology play to the U.S. economy.

Blank said, “Innovation is crucial to the economy.  And while private citizens and private businesses are the primary source of new ideas—from concept to commercialization—the government plays a key role in this effort. The returns in new jobs and new technologies have traditionally far exceeded the money invested on the front end by the federal government.”

Referencing the recently released COMPETES report, Blank stated, “Only with a laser-sharp focus on education, innovation and infrastructure, will we build the basis for a 21st century economy that allows American businesses to flourish in an increasingly competitive global market. And only when American businesses flourish will we see the sort of job growth and income growth that assures economic opportunity to middle class Americans.”

Also while at the show, Blank toured the International Trade Agency’s International Buyer Program’s International Commerce Center and met domestic and foreign commercial service officers who assist American businesses in exporting. Afterwards, she presented an Export Achievement Award to Meridrew Enterprises. Meridrew Enterprises is a small, woman-owned company that is an industry leader in high performance screen cleaning technology. Their products have been used on the windows of the Space Shuttle and International Space Station.

Obama Administration Applauds Opening of Innovation Hub in Gainesville, Florida

View of incubation hub lobby from balcony

Guest blog post by U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development John R. Fernandez

U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, Gainesville Mayor Craig Lowe, and University of Florida President J. Bernard Machen, all gathered for the opening of the Florida Innovation Hub on January 11, 2012. I was proud to address the large crowd that was here to support the unveiling of a new tech business incubator that will help entrepreneurs, innovators, and start-up companies commercialize their research and bring it into the marketplace.

As Florida seeks to diversify beyond tourism and agriculture, and transition to a more innovation-based economy, the $8.2 million grant that the Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) invested in the University of Florida in Gainesville to build this facility will promote a more diverse economy in the state. It will lead to the creation of new higher-skill, living-wage jobs that are vital to the prosperity of this region. This incubator is expected to create 300 jobs and generate $30 million in private investment.

2011: A Great Year for American Inventors and Innovation

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Guest blog post by David Kappos, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO

As December draws to a close , it’s difficult to imagine a more historic year for the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) than 2011. The dedication and hard work of our talented public servants has enabled the Agency to make significant strides in the quality, efficiency, and certainty of patents and trademarks granted to technological enterprises. And our collaboration with the small business community has allowed us to level the competitive playing field by offering new tools and resources for independent inventors to acquire intellectual property rights with more ease. As this year comes to an end, I want to take a moment to recount what our extended USPTO family has helped accomplish for American inventors and American innovation, through the lens of a few numbers and key dates that were important this year.