U.S. Deputy Commerce Secretary Andrews Delivers Remarks to Startup Global in Pittsburgh


Wednesday, August 12, 2015
Good morning. Thank you, Dave, for the kind introduction. I also want to thank our partners from the Pittsburgh Startup Global Steering Committee: The Carnegie Mellon University Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship; The University of Pittsburgh Innovation Institute; Idea Foundry; Innovation Works; Pittsburgh Technology Council; and Thrill Mill.
Our goal for today is simple: we want to help prepare you and your companies for global success.
Today, thanks to advances in technology, it is easier than ever before to access the global marketplace. The digital economy is booming, creating new opportunities we couldn’t have imagined even a decade ago. Selling your products abroad for the first time can be daunting. But e-commerce platforms are taking many of the unknowns out of international business – allowing sellers to better reach and identify new customers, manage logistics, and ensure payment.
Furthermore, many entrepreneurs are changing the usual export process and moving beyond the traditional approach of building a domestic market base before expanding globally. For example, eBay, who is an active strategic partner of the Commerce Department, estimates that 97 percent of their sellers are doing business internationally. And their research shows that their online sellers export on a more sustained basis than traditional exporters.
Yet, despite all of this, too many new companies fail to take advantage of the amazing opportunities that lie beyond our borders. And too often, e-commerce exporters find themselves in a reactive position when facing international sales issues, unaware of export assistance resources and best practices.
At the Department of Commerce, we want to change this.
While the government can’t create new companies, it has an important role to play as a catalyst – by developing ecosystems for start-ups and entrepreneurs to thrive and become the successful businesses of tomorrow. We believe that the federal government has the responsibility and resources to make sure that innovators have what they need to turn a great idea into a successful business and take advantage of global opportunities.
The Department of Commerce is truly America’s Innovation Agency. No other federal department is so singularly equipped to help businesses at every point of their lifecycle, from concept to commercialization to exporting abroad for the first time.
Many of our Department’s core responsibilities help create the essential infrastructure of opportunity for entrepreneurs, by: Issuing patents that protect intellectual property; Making investments in local economic development; Collecting and disseminating data to inform smarter decision making; Expanding access to broadband; and protecting a free and open internet.
We are constantly evolving to operate at the speed of business, and providing resources at each step of the business lifecycle.
Startup Global is one of the many ways we help innovators like you to be successful.
Whenever Secretary Penny Pritzker and I visit incubators and accelerators across the country, we often hear that they’d like to provide more international trade information to their member companies. In response to this challenge, Secretary Penny Pritzker announced the creation of Startup Global earlier this year.
Startup Global aims to make our resources more accessible to early-stage companies with high potential to succeed internationally. It is part of a new customer-driven strategy called NEI/NEXT that builds on the President’s National Export Initiative and provides U.S. exporters with more sector-specific information and data.
Our mission is to form deeper partnerships with business incubators in select cities nationwide to support international trade ecosystems across the country. Pittsburgh is our third pilot program and the only one using a steering committee model. We are here to help more startup firms think global – and know where to go for help – from the earliest stages of their company’s growth.
A critical on-the-ground resource you will hear about today is our U.S. Commercial Service and U.S Export Assistance Center network in 105 cities across the country. Their job is to connect U.S. businesses with global market opportunities, as well as overseas buyers and distributors. If you don’t already know them, I urge you to meet our local director, Lyn Doverspike, and her team. They are all international trade experts and can connect you with our global network in more than 75 countries worldwide.
Through Startup Global – and using resources like our commercial team here in Pittsburgh – we are bringing our international expertise to you.
In addition to Startup Global, I want to briefly mention another way we are ensuring that U.S. businesses can capitalize on global opportunities: through this Administration’s trade agenda. For innovators like you, the benefits of selling your products abroad are too large to ignore. Today, 96 percent of the world’s consumers and 80 percent of global purchasing power live outside our borders.
Furthermore, we know from the hundreds of trade events we facilitate each year that global customers see American products and services as the gold standard of innovation, value, and integrity. That’s why we support reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank, which provides companies with the financing they need to go toe-to-toe with foreign rivals. And that’s why our entire Administration is focused on signing new trade agreements that will expand export opportunities for your companies.
We are currently negotiating agreements that could create a free trade zone across the Asia Pacific region and Europe that covers nearly two-thirds of the world’s GDP. If and when these new agreements are finalized, many of the resources you will hear about today can help you capitalize on the new opportunities created.
Put simply: our job is to put the global marketplace at your fingertips.
Through our trade agenda and initiatives like Startup Global, we are your partners in accessing new markets. And like you, we are focused on testing our ideas and services, and adapting to your needs.
Today’s event is an experiment, and we are thrilled you are a part of it.
This is the first time the Department of Commerce is collaborating on this type of initiative, bringing together technical experts in a customized program made just for Pittsburgh. Later today, you will hear from both our Commerce team and business leaders from local companies. You will learn about many significant, yet overlooked, aspects of venturing into global markets – from protecting your intellectual property to identifying reliable local partners.
My hope is that this dialogue will continue beyond today, and that this is the beginning of meaningful, new partnerships between business, incubators, their members, and our international trade experts.
As creators and makers, your perspective is critical to shaping Startup Global as we expand this initiative across the nation. Please engage, provide feedback, and ask questions. And after today, stay in touch with our experts, particularly at our Pittsburgh U.S. Export Assistance Center. Your recommendations are invaluable as we continue to improve our products and services to meet your needs.
Ultimately, the Department of Commerce is a customer services organization at heart, and you are our customers. We are all in to support you, our nation’s startups and entrepreneurs – because we want innovation to remain one of America’s greatest and most valued assets.

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