Back in January, President Obama announced the launch of Startup America, a national campaign to help “knock down barriers in the path of men and women in every corner of this country hoping to take a chance, follow a dream, and start a business.”
The initiative focuses on five areas (listed below) and included the launch of the Startup America Partnership, an independent alliance of entrepreneurs, corporations, universities, foundations and other leaders working to fuel innovative, high-growth startups.
Eight months in, how is Startup America faring? The Administration recently released a progress report. Here’s a closer look at some highlights for each of the five areas of focus.
1. Unlocking Access to Capital
- The SBA has committed up to $2 billion over the next five years to match private sector investment in promising high-growth companies. Specifically, the SBA is committing $1 billion to Impact Investment Funds targeting priority areas, including underserved markets and emerging sectors such as clean energy and education. The SBA just licensed its first Impact Investment Fund in Michigan. An additional $1 billion in Early Stage Innovation Funds is set to launch in 2012.
- To encourage additional investment in small business, the Administration has proposed permanent elimination of the capital gains tax on certain small business stock. This is part of the President’s Fiscal 2012 budget proposal, awaiting Congress’s action.
- The Treasury Department has also proposed reforms that would make it easier to invest in early stage startups in low-income communities.
2. Connecting Mentors
- The SBA, Department of Energy (DOE) and Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) launched the Entrepreneurial Mentor Corps program, which funds four clean energy business accelerators that match mentors with clean energy companies around the country.
- The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) launched two business accelerators focused on helping vets start businesses—one serving Wisconsin and another serving Virginia and Pennsylvania.
3. Reducing Barriers
- Immigrant entrepreneurs can be an important source of innovative business startups, and skilled immigrants are a resource for high-tech, high-growth companies. The Department of Homeland Security has proposed changes that would make it easier for both immigrant entrepreneurs and highly skilled immigrant employees to obtain visas.
- To help reduce barriers to funding innovative ideas, the SBA has revamped the SBIR.gov website so it’s simpler for small businesses to find funding opportunities across 11 federal agencies.
4. Accelerating Innovation
- The National Science Foundation has established the NSF Innovation Corps, a public-private partnership that connects NSF-funded scientific research with the technological, entrepreneurial and business communities.
- The Department of Commerce, together with 16 federal agencies, has created the $33 million Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge, in which high-growth clusters from 20 rural and urban regions across the nation will compete for federal funds to help their regions’ entrepreneurial economies grow.
5. Unleashing Market Opportunities
The Administration believes health-care reform; the Recovery Act’s $80 billion investment in clean energy research, development and deployment; and the Race to the Top initiative and $650M Investing in Innovation (i3) Program will create new opportunities for small businesses in health-care information technology, clean energy, and educational technologies and services.
There are many more aspects to Startup America. You can visit the Startup America site to find out about specific initiatives and how well they’re progressing. What do you think of these initiatives? Will they have any effect on your business?