Obama’s Startup America to Promote Innovation and Entrepreneurs

Jan 31st, 2011 | By | Category: Business and Finance

Continuing its pro-business push, the Obama administration announced Monday that it will launch an initiative called Startup America. The initiative aims to boost American competitiveness by promoting innovation and increasing investment in start-ups and small businesses.

B80 SteveCase1 Obamas Startup America to Promote Innovation and Entrepreneurs

Steve Case. Courtesy of Robert Scoble

The initiative will be spearheaded by a privately-funded board called the Startup America Partnership. The board is led by AOL founder Steve Case, recently a driving force in the growth of Groupon competitor LivingSocial; and Carl Schramm of the Kaufman Foundation, a group that encourages entrepreneurship. Joining the effort are Intel, Hewlett Packard, IBM and other high tech industry leaders.

Startup America will encourage developments in advanced manufacturing, information technology, green technology, medicine, and other areas. As part of the program, major tech companies are expanding their ongoing innovation and venture activities, including HP’s Startup Central, Intel’s Invest in America Alliance and IBM’s Global Entrepreneur initiative.

Under the Startup America initiative, the Small Business Administration will make $2 billion in matching funds available over the next five years to private funds that invest in high-growth startups. The SBA and the Department of Energy will also promote mentorship for cleantech startups, while the Veterans Administration will launch training programs for veterans who want to start new businesses.

The Startup America initiative is tied to the President’s new budget, which will propose making permanent the elimination of capital gains taxes on key investments in small businesses. Obama’s new budget will also propose expanding the New Markets Tax Credit to encourage private sector investment in startups and small businesses operating in lower-income communities.

By working through the private sector and executive agencies like the SBA, the Startup America initiative bypasses the need for direct Congressional approval of the President’s policies. In this Obama borrows from a Clinton administration strategy used to promote Clinton’s Welfare to Work Partnership, explained John Podesta, an advisor to both administrations.

Monday’s announcement is the latest in a series of moves the Obama administration has made to improve its relationship with the business community. It comes a week after Obama appointed General Electric Chairman and CEO Jeffrey R. Immelt as “jobs czar” to head a new President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, with a mission to reduce unemployment and strengthen the economy.

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