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Remarks by U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Don Graves at the MBDA InVision Tour: Tech Transfer & Small Business Innovation Research


Thank you, Edith, for the kind introduction.

Thank you to the Minority Business Development Agency, or MBDA, for organizing the InVision Tour, and thank you to our event partners at the Federal Laboratory and the Small Business Administration.

It is my absolute honor and privilege to serve as Deputy Secretary of Commerce and to be part of the Biden-Harris Administration, which is not only committed to building back better, but to doing so in a more equitable way. That includes bringing back and strengthening our small businesses.

Small businesses are the engines of our economy. They are the heart and soul of our communities and employ nearly half of the private sector workforce. 

The Department of Commerce and MBDA play a pivotal role in promoting growth, competitiveness, and providing technical support for minority-owned businesses.

And as part of the MBDA Inclusive Innovation Initiative, the InVision Tour is here to serve you. We encourage you to work with us to get familiar with the R&D funding and other resources the Federal Government provides that you can leverage to start and grow your businesses.

Whether you currently have an idea or invention that you want to explore, or you need access to R&D labs, human capital, facility space, patent attorneys, and more, MBDA is here to help you access resources like Technology Transfer and Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) funding.

Today you will be hearing from experts who will share with you how these programs work, all the ways in which you can take advantage of them, and how public R&D access can lead to building wealth for your company, community, and our country.

This is particularly important because research shows that on average African American-owned firms receive about 0.5% of SBIR awards, while Hispanic-owned firms average 2%, and Asian American-owned firms average 5.3%.

Since the rate of minority patent ownership equals or exceeds nonminority ownership in 14 out of 19 industry sectors, we believe lack of awareness is the main reason for such a low share of the awards going to minority enterprises.

And we have been receiving feedback from InVision Tour participants who agree there was a lack of knowledge of these programs within the minority business community.

That is why we are here to help you to learn, adapt, and use innovative technologies, which are essential for sustainability in today’s markets.

At the Department of Commerce our mission is to create the conditions for economic growth and opportunity. And getting our economy back means bringing our small businesses back.

Our families, workers, and communities depend on them to survive, recover, and grow.

With that, I’ll turn it over to our moderator. Thank you and enjoy today’s discussions.