When President Barack Obama took office, one of his first challenges was the United States economy and its veritable freefall. To an effort to slow that downward spiral, he signed into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), a program designed to fund—and you would have heard this term 10,000 times by now—“shovel ready” projects that could help bolster the US economy.
For many—myopically disposed or not—the tech startup scene seemed to hold hold any number of said projects with the potential to positively effect both job creation and wealth creation. Unfortunately, government efforts didn’t seem to focus much on that aspect of the economy. Until now. Yesterday, Obama introduced the Startup America Partnership.
“America’s story has been forged in large part by entrepreneurs who have against great odds created innovative products and services that have changed the world – and created millions of jobs,” said America Online co-founder Steve Case, who chairs the effort. “Our nation once again looks to these creative risk-takers to unleash the next wave of American innovation, and I am pleased that President Obama has made supporting and celebrating entrepreneurs a major priority of his economic strategy. I am honored to chair the Startup America Partnership, and look forward to working with the White House to champion the creation of new start-ups, and help accelerate the growth of speed-ups.”
The Partnership will bring together top entrepreneurs, start-up firm funders, CEOs, university presidents, foundations, and other leaders to help entrepreneurial companies start or grow. Partners (including corporations, foundations, startup funders, CEOs, and others) will contribute funds to existing proven models or develop new programs and efforts to help entrepreneurs.
That effort will be focused on three specific areas:
- Acceleration and Scale: Replicate successful community-based entrepreneurship accelerator programs; encourage increase in experienced mentors to support startups and encourage partnerships with large companies to serve as customers or funders of current firms.
- Education: Identify resources to help expand high-impact entrepreneurship education throughout the country.
- Commercialization: Increase the number of colleges and universities committed to commercialization outcomes, through efforts that include clearing the path to market for primary research, supporting the extension of successful accelerator programs, and spurring regional ecosystem development, faculty engagement, and streamlined technology licensing.
There are even some local ties to the program.
The capital arm of that little tech company in Hillsboro, Intel Capital, has pledged $200 million in investment. And that social network with the Prineville outpost and the recent contribution to OSU Open Source Labs, Facebook, will host upwards of 15 “Startup Days” around the nation.
And one of those Facebook Startup Days will be in Portland. I mean, that hasn’t been confirmed or anything. I’m just saying it would be stupid not to host one in Portland. I mean, seriously. Right?
So now for the big question: how the heck does a startup engage with this program?
Well, that’s not exactly how things are planned to happen. You see, the Startup America thing is going to be program that helps other organizations and programs help entrepreneurs and startups. So it’s a bit more indirect. You don’t engage with the Partnership. You engage with organizations who are engaged with the Partnership.
So consider this a call to action for local organizations who are interested in helping startups. They can get engaged by contacting the Startup America Partnership. So, at the moment, this may be a case of “hurry up and wait” for startups looking to experience the effects of this program.
But it’s definitely a leap in the right direction.
For more details on all of the programs receiving funding to help startups, read the Startup America Fact Sheet on whitehouse.gov. You can stay tuned to the progress by visiting Startup America Partnership, following @startupamerica on Twitter, or liking Startup America Partnership on Facebook.