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Startup America

Startup America: Commitments

The Obama Administration is taking concrete actions to improve the environment for high-growth entrepreneurship, in five key areas:

  1. Unlocking Access to Capital
  2. Connecting Mentors
  3. Reducing Barriers
  4. Accelerating Innovation
  5. Unleashing Market Opportunities

For a quick overview of Administration actions, see our Progress Report.

Expanding Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs

President Signs Bipartisan JOBS Act to Unlock More Startup Capital
On April 5, 2012, President Obama signed the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act, a bipartisan bill that allows startups to raise capital from investors more efficiently, accelerating growth and hiring. The JOBS Act includes all three of the capital formation priorities that the President first raised in his September 2011 address to Congress, and outlined in more detail in his Startup America Legislative Agenda in January 2012: allowing small-dollar investments through “crowdfunding,” expanding “mini-public offerings,” and creating an “IPO on-ramp” consistent with investor protections. Learn more.

SBA Launches Two $1 Billion Initiatives for Impact Investing and Early-Stage Seed Financing
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) will commit up to $2 billion (matching private sector investments) to promising high-growth companies in the next five years. These SBA guaranteed bonds will use the existing authority and privately managed fund structures of the Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) program to provide long-term capital to high-growth firms, all with no new cost to taxpayers.

  • $1 Billion Impact Investment Funds:  SBA will commit $1 billion to funds that target areas of national priority, including underserved markets and emerging sectors such as clean energy and education. The program requires that SBICs invest at least fifty percent of thei total capital on "impact investments," which are defined as being in low to moderate income areas, being in the energy or education sectors, or as being directed towards women, minority, or veteran owned businesses. SBA will provide up to a 2:1 match to the private capital raised by these funds. Learn more.

    Status: SBA has licensed two Impact Investment Funds and given a green light letter to a third, together managing over $200 million in assets.

  • $1 Billion Early-Stage Innovation Funds: Early-stage companies face difficult challenges accessing capital, particularly those without the necessary assets or cash flow for traditional bank funding.  For high-growth companies, the gap is particularly acute in the so called “Valley of Death” for financing rounds between $1-4 million. Over the past 4 years only 6% of all venture capital has been deployed in that stage, with 70% of the financings going to only three states – California, Massachusetts and New York. The Early-Stage Innovation Funds will target this gap, providing a 1:1 match to private capital raised by early stage seed funds. Learn more.

    Status: SBA has licensed five Early Stage Funds with over $264 million in assets under management.



Administration Proposes Permanent Elimination of the Capital Gains Tax on Certain Small Business Stock

The Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization and Job Creation Act of 2010 provides a 100-percent exclusion from tax for capital gains realized on the sale of certain small business stock held for more than five years.  The amount of gain eligible for the exclusion is limited to the greater of $10 million or ten times the taxpayer’s basis in the stock. The Administration’s budget proposals would make this provision permanent, increasing private sector investment in small businesses. Learn more.

Status: Awaiting Congressional action.


Treasury Department Simplifies Rules for Tax Credits for Private Investment in Lower-Income Communities

The Treasury Department has published a set of proposed regulatory reforms to the existing New Markets Tax Credit.  These reforms will make it easier for community development entities to attract private-sector funds for investment in startups and small businesses operating in lower-income communities. The reforms would relax the reinvestment requirements for community development entities investing in certain operating businesses. Learn more.

Status: The proposed rules have been published.

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Connecting Mentors and Entrepreneurs

SBA, Department of Energy, and ARPA-E Launch Mentorship Program for Clean Energy Startups

The SBA, in partnership with the Department of Energy (DOE) and Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), launched the Entrepreneurial Mentor Corps program in February 2011. This program funds four competitively selected clean energy business accelerators -- Clean Energy Trust, CleanTECH San Diego, Cleantech Open, and the Nevada Institute for Renewable Energy Commercialization -- which together match experienced mentors to 100 clean energy companies around the country.  These mentors accelerate a startup company’s success by providing targeted advice on revenue growth, employee growth, avoiding pitfalls, and obtaining financing. Learn more.

Status: Launched and ongoing.


Department of Veterans Affairs Launches New Incubators to Help Vets Start High-Growth Businesses

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has established the first integrated business accelerator focused solely on helping our Veterans launch and sustain their own businesses. Based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Veteran Entrepreneurial Transfer (VETransfer) is a non-profit business incubator providing physical office space and shared services to help Veteran-owned businesses get off the ground. Learn more.

Status: Launched.


National Science Foundation Launches a National Center for Engineering Pathways to Innovation (Epicenter)

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded a $10 million grant over five years to launch a national center for teaching innovation and entrepreneurship at the nearly 350 engineering schools throughout the U.S. The center is managed by the Stanford Technology Ventures Program (STVP) at Stanford University’s School of Engineering, in partnership with the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance (NCIIA). Epicenter offers entrepreneurship and innovation programs for engineering faculty and students; partners with leaders in academia and government to build a national entrepreneurship agenda in engineering; conducts research on higher education models; hosts online classes and resources; and forms communities around entrepreneurship in engineering education It serves as an education, research and outreach hub, inspiring the nation’s undergraduate engineering students to develop innovative products and services for lasting economic and societal impact.

In November 2013, Epicenter’s University Innovation Fellows launched an online platform for students across the country to share information about entrepreneurship programs at their schools and help spark an entrepreneurial movement among university students. The platform also contains content from a recent report by the Department of Commerce called “The Innovative and Entrepreneurial University.” Epicenter also co-hosted the 2013 UNCF HBCU Innovation Summit, which brought together more than 50 leaders and faculty from 17 historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) across the country to share ideas on the connections between STEM education, entrepreneurship, and innovation. Learn more.

Status:  Launched and ongoing.


Department of Energy Funds Clean Energy Business Competitions for Students Nationwide

To support and empower the next generation of American clean energy entrepreneurs, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced $2 million in funding for the National Clean Energy Business Plan Competition.  This nationwide initiative has created a network of regional student-focused clean energy business creation competitions whose winners compete for a National Grand Prize. DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) has attracted 600 teams across the country to compete for millions of dollars in prizes, resulting in 55 startups that have attracted more than $22 million in follow-on funding to DOE's initial $2 million investment. Follow-on opportunities for the startups have included everything from angel investment, venture capital funding, government grants, crowdfunding, and acquisition. Learn more.

Status: Launched and ongoing.


Department of Energy Launches Collegiate Wind Competition

To help the nation’s future scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs continue to advance the wind industry, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) launched the Collegiate Wind Competition. The competition aims to cultivate wind-specific interests and skills among the next generation of industry leaders and features 10 teams of multi-disciplinary university students who will design and construct lightweight, portable wind turbines intended to power small electronic devices. The three inaugural competition elements include turbine design, construction, and wind tunnel testing; presentation of a business plan to develop and market the turbine; and demonstration of knowledge of current market issues affecting the wind industry. Learn more.

Status: Launched.


Administration Commits to Advance Entrepreneurship Education

The Departments of Education and Labor are advancing a youth entrepreneurship agenda that infuses entrepreneurship education into a range of existing programs involving K-12 education, career and technical education, community colleges, universities, and low-income youth. As part of this effort, the Department of Education is launching a new National Education Startup Challenge, inviting middle school, high school, and college students to develop an innovative solution to an education problem and prepare a business plan for a new company or non-profit organization to deliver that solution. Learn more.

Status: Ongoing.

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Reducing Barriers and Making Government Work for Entrepreneurs

Department of Homeland Security Announces New Initiatives for Immigrant Entrepreneurs

As a part of commonsense immigration reform, the President supports Congressional action to attract the best minds to America by providing visas to foreign entrepreneurs looking to start businesses here and helping the most promising foreign graduate students in science and math stay in this country after graduation, rather than take their skills to other countries. At the same time, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has outlined a series of policy, operational, and outreach efforts to realize the potential of current immigration laws to attract the best and brightest from around the world to grow the U.S. economy and create American jobs.

  • Clarifying Entrepreneurs’ Eligibility for the EB-2 National Interest Waiver Program. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has released new materials that clarify the standard for entrepreneurs of “exceptional ability” and those who qualify for a national interest waiver (NIW), which streamlines the application process for an EB-2 green card and allows entrepreneurs to self-petition. USCIS will couple these public materials with internal training on the unique characteristics of startup companies. Learn more.
  • Clarifying Entrepreneurs’ Eligibility for H-1B Visas. Companies obtaining H-1B visas for high-skilled employees must demonstrate an employer-employee relationship. USCIS has updated its public materials to provide clarity on the H-1B eligibility of entrepreneurs with an ownership stake in their own companies, including sole employees, who may be able to establish the necessary employer-employee relationship. Learn more.
  • Strengthening the EB-5 Investor Visa Program. The EB-5 program allows immigrant investors to put their own capital to work creating jobs and opportunities for U.S. workers. USCIS is strengthening the program by (1) transitioning EB-5 work into a new Immigrant Investor Program Office (IPO) located in Washington, D.C., (2) increasing staff levels to enhance the economic, business, and legal expertise within the program and reduce processing times, (3) implementing more efficient avenues for communicating with applicants and petitioners, (4) providing regional center applicants with an interview before a USCIS panel of experts to timely resolve outstanding issues, and and (5) coordinating with other federal departments and agencies to maintain the integrity of the program and ensure jobs and opportunities for U.S. workers are created as a result of investments through the EB-5 program.
  • Engaging Entrepreneurs to Streamline the Visa Process.  U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) completed an “Entrepreneurs in Residence” (EIR) initiative to fully realize the job-creating potential of current immigration law, beginning with policies and practices related to immigrant entrepreneurs. Informed by summits with industry leaders to gather high-level strategic input, the agency brought in a tactical team comprised of entrepreneurs and experts, worked with USCIS personnel, and implemented effective solutions at the policy, training, and officer level. The team also launched Entrepreneur Pathways, an online resource center that gives immigrant entrepreneurs an intuitive way to navigate opportunities to start and grow a business in the United States. Learn more.
  • Embracing More of the World’s Best and Brightest Science and Technology Graduates. The Department of Homeland Security has published an expanded list of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) degree programs that immediately qualify eligible graduates on student visas for an Optional Practical Training (OPT) extension—an important step forward in expanding the nation's pool of talented high-skilled graduates and potential entrepreneurs in science and technology fields. By expanding the list of STEM degrees to include such fields as Neuroscience, Medical Informatics, Pharmaceutics and Drug Design, Mathematics and Computer Science, more highly skilled foreign graduates will have an extra 17 months to remain in the U.S. to pursue work training in their field of study, beyond the initial 12 months available to all graduates. Learn more from 2011 and 2012.
  • Redoubling Efforts to Attract Entrepreneurs and Innovators. DHS announced several measures they will implement to streamline existing pathways for immigrant entrepreneurs, retain more foreign-born science and technology graduates from U.S. universities, facilitate immigration by top researchers, and help U.S. startups and other companies compete for global talent. Learn more

President Obama Signs Bipartisan Bill to Turn Job Seekers into Job Creators

Some laid-off workers have the skills, experience, and entrepreneurial ambition to launch a successful business, but they are locked into an inflexible system. If they stop looking for traditional work full-time, they will lose their unemployment benefits. Self-Employment Assistance, or SEA, allows an entrepreneur with a viable business plan to receive unemployment benefits, as long as they are working full-time to get a new company off the ground. The President first proposed to expand SEA in September 2011, and this was one of several work-based reforms passed into law in February 2012 as part of the first major overhaul of the unemployment insurance system in decades. This bipartisan law will extend SEA to the long-term unemployed, connect entrepreneurs with mentorship and business development resources through the Small Business Administration and local partners, and give states the tools to get new SEA programs off the ground. Learn more.


Making Student Loan Burdens More Manageable for Young Entrepreneurs

President Obama has made it easier for Americans to manage student loan debt, including the implementation of the Pay As You Earn repayment plan that allows borrowers to cap their monthly federal loan payments at 10% of their income, with any remaining debt balance forgiven after 20 years. Currently, only some borrowers are eligible for this plan, but the President has proposed expanding eligibility for Pay As You Earn to all borrowers. Entrepreneurs with student loans can already take advantage of various income-driven repayment plans offered by the U.S. Department of Education that allow borrowers to fully repay their student debt on a sliding scale that adjusts monthly payments based on factors such as changing income and growing families. To spread awareness of this program, the U.S. Small Business Administration has launched a website walking young entrepreneurs through the process of reducing their monthly student loan payments. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Education has committed to developing new guidance for borrowers to facilitate young entrepreneurs’ use of this program, and initiated new outreach to federal student loan borrowers, including emails targeted to specific borrowers who may be likely to benefit from an income-driven repayment plan or who may not be aware of their choices for repayment. Borrowers interested in learning more can go to StudentAid.gov to use the online Repayment Estimator to determine if they could lower their monthly student loan payments through an income-driven repayment plan. Learn more about what the President is doing to make college more affordable for American students and families.

Status: Ongoing.


SBA Launches One-Stop Website for Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Funding Opportunities

Through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, the federal government provides $2.5 billion in annual seed-stage funding for small businesses meeting national research needs. The U.S. Small Business Administration has reinvented the SBIR.gov website with new features allowing these innovative companies to navigate opportunities across eleven federal agencies. Entrepreneurs can now benefit from search across all open solicitation topics, search of past awards, transparent reporting of agencies’ annual performance, a unified calendar of events across all agencies, and guided walk-throughs for various constituents. Learn more.

Status: Launched.


U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) Plans to Increase Applicant Control Over Examination Timing and Enable Fast-Track Examination Reaching Final Disposition Within 12 Months

The USPTO is pursuing an Enhanced Examination Timing Control Initiative (Three-Track Examination) to give innovators more control over the timing of application processing and support a more efficient market for innovation. Under this initiative, applicants would be able to request prioritized examination for a fee (Track I), obtain processing under the current procedure (Track II), or request a delay in processing and fees of up to 30 months (Track III). Entrepreneurs who are seeking capital or accelerated market penetration may benefit from the prioritized examination offered by the Track I option. In contrast, entrepreneurs wishing to test the market before committing further resources may prefer the extended timeframe associated with Track III. Three-Track will help all entrepreneurs by creating shorter overall examination queues.  Learn more.

Status: "Track I" launched.

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Accelerating Innovation from Lab to Market

President Obama Directs Federal Agencies to Speed Up Research Breakthroughs

Breakthroughs in science and engineering create foundations for new industries, new companies, and new jobs. A new Presidential Memorandum directs all federal agencies with research facilities to accelerate the transfer of innovations from the laboratory to the commercial marketplace, making more efficient use of the over $130 billion a year that the federal government invests in research and development. This directive streamlines private-public research partnerships, accelerates small business research and development grants by 50%, and provides more flexibility for regional innovation clusters. Learn more.

Status: Launched.


National Science Foundation Launches Innovation Corps

Fostering a national innovation ecosystem that couples scientific discovery with technology development and societal needs, the National Science Foundation (NSF) has established the NSF Innovation Corps (I-Corps) program to connect NSF-funded scientific research with the technological, entrepreneurial and business communities.  Technology developers, business leaders, venture capitalists, and others from private industry will act as I-Corps mentors, enhancing the ability of primary researchers to transform their scientific and engineering results into successful, fundable technologies. A public-private partnership involving NSF and the Deshpande Foundation and the Kauffman Foundation helped to launch NSF’s I-Corps. Over 233 teams have been supported, and NSF has established a National Innovation Network (NIN) consisting of 5 I-Corps Nodes that are designed to provide learning environments for I-Corps teams, and support regional needs for innovation education, infrastructure and research. The Nodes work cooperatively to build, utilize and sustain a national innovation ecosystem that further enhances the development of technologies, products and processes that benefit society. More recently, NSF has also awarded 11 I-Corps Sites, which help those institutions with existing entrepreneurial activities to spawn additional teams.  Learn more.

Status: Launched.


National Science Foundation Announces “Accelerating Innovation Research” Awards

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has established the Accelerating Innovation Research (AIR) Program, which enables research discoveries to be translated onto a path toward commercial reality while engaging faculty and students in entrepreneurial and market-oriented thinking and leveraging the prior investments NSF has made. There are two options under the AIR program. One option is Technology Translation (TT), which provides academic researchers and their students the opportunity to develop proof of concept and/or prototype to further their innovations towards the marketplace. The other option is Research Alliance (RA), which provides NSF-funded centers and other multi-institutional collaborations the opportunity to create academic-based innovation ecosystems. These ecosystems offer a cost-effective, timely, and risk-reduced approach for potential investors and other stakeholders to participate in research and development with academic partners, leading to new products/services with high commercial impact. Learn more.

Status: Ongoing.


National Institutes of Health Launch the NIH Centers for Accelerated Innovations

The NIH Centers for Accelerated Innovations facilitate and accelerate the translation of  breakthrough innovations  into commercially viable products.  Each Center is a consortium of academic, government, non-profit, and private sector organizations that will provide funding for feasibility studies; regulatory, legal, and business development expertise; access to capital; and entrepreneurial training and mentorship. The Centers offer one-stop shopping to efficiently and effectively develop early stage technologies to attract private sector investment and ultimate commercialization. The program will benefit the public by allowing earlier access to new biomedical products that improve human health and stimulating economic growth through the creation of new companies and jobs. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute has committed $31.5 million to three Centers over seven years, and awardees will leverage existing federal government resources, including those offered by NIH and by other federal program partners including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. The inaugural Centers are the Boston Biomedical Innovation Center, Cleveland Clinic Innovation Accelerator, and the UC BRAID Center for Accelerated Innovation. Learn more.

Status: Launched.


Department of Energy Funds Innovation Ecosystems

DOE’s Innovation Ecosystems Initiative funded 5 “innovation ecosystems” that accelerate the movement of cutting-edge energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies from university laboratories into the market. Located in five distinct geographic regions across the United States, the university- and nonprofit-led Innovation Ecosystems unite the strengths of experts in universities, business, finance, government, research institutes, and economic development organizations. These consortia provide clean energy technology innovators and entrepreneurs with services in intellectual property protection and business mentoring, as well as opportunities to compete for venture capital and other financial investment partnerships. The five ecosystems are University of Central Florida, University of Utah, Clean Energy Trust, Fraunhofer, and University of California - San Diego. Over the course of the program, the Initiative has supported more than 150 startups across the country and attracted over $100 million in follow-on funding, leveraging $5.25 million in EERE funding. Learn more.

Status: Completed.


Department of Energy Supports Startup Incubators Pursuing “Grand Challenges”

The Department of Energy’s new National Incubator Initiative for Clean Energy (NIICE) supports incubators across the country to help unleash the creative potential of America's entrepreneurs.Through these incubators, small businesses and entrepreneurs can receive important services to help successfully develop and commercialize clean energy technologies, including mentorship, business development, capital access, and manufacturing support. Led by the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), NIICE will fund 3-5 incubators and a national coordinating organization, with up to $3 million in DOE funding.  This complements related efforts to support startups that are pursuing 21st Century Grand Challenges. The SunShot Grand Challenge, to make solar energy cost competitive with coal by the end of the decade, includes the SunShot Incubator Program that has helped over 50 small businesses bring cutting-edge solar solutions to the marketplace by solving critical technological challenges. The EV Everywhere Grand Challenge, to make electric vehicles as affordable as today's gasoline-powered vehicles within the next 10 years, includes the Vehicle Technologies Incubator to support small business and universities in pursuing innovative, off-roadmap research and development, including electric vehicle batteries, advanced power electronics, advanced combustion engines, materials technology, fuels and lubricant technology, and other areas.

Status: Ongoing.


Department of Energy Launches “America's Next Top Energy Innovator” Challenge

Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced a new program called “America’s Next Top Energy Innovator” to reduce the cost and paperwork for startup companies to license the Department of Energy’s 15,000 unlicensed patents, and start bringing more of these new energy technologies to the U.S. marketplace.  Entrepreneurs can apply for any of these patents by submitting a business plan for how they propose to use them.  A portfolio of up to three patents will cost an upfront fee of just $1,000, yielding a total savings of between $10,000 and $50,000. Learn more, or browse new technologies.

Status: Ongoing.


National Institutes of Health Speeds up Licensing Agreements for Biomedical Startups

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Technology Transfer has developed new agreements for start-up companies obtain licenses for early-stage biomedical inventions developed by intramural researchers at NIH or FDA. Companies that are less than 5 years old and have fewer than 50 employees will be eligible to use the new, short-term exclusive Start-Up Evaluation License Agreement and the new Start-Up Commercial License Agreement. These agreements allow a start-up company to take ideas sitting on the shelf, and attract additional investments to develop these NIH and FDA inventions into life-saving products. Learn more.

Status: Ongoing.


Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) Launches i6 Challenges for Regional Innovation

EDA’s i6 Challenge is designed to encourage innovative, ground-breaking ideas that accelerate technology commercialization, new venture formation, and job creation across the United States. Communities are rewarded for utilizing Proof of Concept Centers that accelerate technology-led economic development, with support from regional partnerships that draw upon a wide range public, corporate, university, non-profit, and philanthropic stakeholders. Learn more.

Status: Launched.


Sixteen Federal Agencies Launch “Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge” to Spur High-Growth Clusters

The Department of Commerce, in coordination with sixteen federal agencies, has created the $33 million Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge, spurring growth in 20 regions around the country. High-growth clusters from rural and urban regions across the nation will compete for federal funds to promote robust economic ecosystems and the development of a skilled workforce, both of which are critical to long-term regional success. These awards will leverage additional private capital from sources including foundations, financial institutions, corporations and other private-sector partners. Learn more.

Status: Ongoing.


Inventing a New Patent System

The America Invents Actwas passed with President Obama’s strong leadership after nearly a decade of effort to reform the Nation’s outdated patent laws. It will help companies and inventors avoid costly delays and unnecessary litigation, and let them focus instead on innovation and job creation.  Many key industries in which the United States leads, such as biotechnology, medical devices, telecommunications, the Internet, and advanced manufacturing, depend on a strong and healthy intellectual property system. The law will give the USPTO the resources to significantly reduce patent application waiting times, building on the great strides the patent office has already made, including reducing its backlog by 75,000 during this Administration even as the number of filings per year has increased. Learn more.

Status: Ongoing.


USPTO Launches Small Business Innovation Research Pilot Program

The United States Patent and Trademark Office, in collaboration with the National Science Foundation, is piloting a program to provide Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) awardees with comprehensive intellectual property support through the agency’s small business programs and resources. Learn more.

Status: Ongoing.

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Unleashing Market Opportunities

Startup America Policy Challenge

In the spirit of open and participatory government, the White House is using online platforms to ask entrepreneurs and the broader public how to accelerate entrepreneurial innovation in three priority industries: healthcare, clean energy, and education. Students and other solvers then compete to translate the best ideas into "Policy Business Plans," which will be shared with the Depts. of Health and Human Services, Energy, and Education. Learn more.

Status: Launched.


Shrinking Electricity Bills with Open Energy Data

Green Button is the common-sense idea that electricity customers should be able to download their own detailed household or commercial electricity usage data from their utility website. Entrepreneurs can then build tools to help consumers conserve energy and save money. Learn more.

Status: Launched


Unlocking the Power of Open Education Data

The Education Data Initiative will harness the power of open data and unleash the creativity and entrepreneurial spirit of educators and innovators all over the country.  The Department of Education is allowing students to easily download and share their Federal Student Aid data, and is opening up other data resources to foster new tools for students, parents, and teachers. Learn more.

Status: Launched


Empowering Consumers with Open Health Data

Blue Button provides a secure way for patients to download their health information and share it with health care providers, caregivers, and others they trust. Over 80 million Americans who have health insurance or benefits from the Veterans Administration, Medicare, the Department of Defense, and certain private-sector companies now have access to Blue Button, which promises to fuel innovative new products and services to help Americans manage their health. Learn more.

Status: Launched


In response to the President’s call to action to promote high-growth entrepreneurship across the country, leaders in the private sector are making commitments to educate the next generation of entrepreneurs, connect more entrepreneurs with high-quality mentors, foster more collaborations between startups and large companies, and accelerate research breakthroughs from the lab to the marketplace.

  1. Growing Entrepreneurial Ecosystems for the Long Run
  2. Inspiring the Next Generation of Entrepreneurs
  3. Connecting Mentors and Entrepreneurs
  4. Connecting Corporations and Entrepreneurs
  5. Accelerating Innovation

Growing Entrepreneurial Ecosystems for the Long Run

America’s Top Entrepreneurs Form Alliance to Grow Startup Communities

Launched at the White House in January 2011, the Startup America Partnership is an independent alliance of top entrepreneurs, investors, corporations, universities, foundations, and other leaders, joining together to grow the entrepreneurial ecosystems that support innovative, high-growth U.S. startups.  The Startup America Partnership mobilized more than $1 billion in private-sector commitments to provide products, services, mentorship and funding to scale and grow U.S. startups, and is now operating around the world as UP Global, which recently committed to support and train 500,000 entrepreneurs in 1,000 cities over the next three years.


Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship to Strengthen Startups At Home and Abroad

The Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship is a group of successful American entrepreneurs who have committed to sharing their time, energy, ideas, and  experience to help develop the next generation of entrepreneurs at home and abroad.  The group is chaired by Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, and the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) are also partners in this effort.  Members will participate in outreach and mentorship activities to grow strong startup communities, and energize their own personal and professional networks to challenge and inspire budding entrepreneurs within the U.S. and across the globe.

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Inspiring the Next Generation of Entrepreneurs

NFTE Expands Entrepreneurship Education for Underserved Youth

The Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE), a nonprofit that provides a first-class entrepreneurship education for at-risk high school students from low-income communities, continues to expand programs supporting young entrepreneurs. Most recently, the Citi Foundation announced a $1.5 million commitment to NFTE that will double the organization’s BizCamp program, allow three times the number of young people to participate in the Startup Summer business accelerator program, and bring resources to thousands of young people through a game and rewards based youth entrepreneurship community.  MasterCard has helped NFTE transform its program into a blended digital learning experience that reflects the lean startup movement. As a Microsoft YouthSpark partner, NFTE has inspired over 10,000 students to become innovators through the World Series of Innovation, and continues to develop its first tech entrepreneurship program. Ernst & Young honors NFTE youth entrepreneurs at regional EY Entrepreneur Of The Year Award galas across the country, bringing important attention to the next generation of young entrepreneurs, and has both helped NFTE expand its in-school program and provided vital college scholarships to NFTE top alumni. Learn more.


Blackstone Foundation Expands Scale-up of LaunchPad Entrepreneurship Centers to More Universities

Continuing to fulfill its $50 million five-year commitment to foster entrepreneurship, the Blackstone Foundation has expanded its campus entrepreneurship program, Blackstone LaunchPad, to five regions beyond the program’s successful pilot in Michigan, where over one hundred ventures have since been formed, creating or supporting hundreds of local jobs. Over the past five years, Blackstone LaunchPad has expanded to California, Montana, Ohio, Florida, and Pennsylvania, encompassing approximately 350,000 students at twelve campuses nationwide.  Going forward, these these regional networks will be linked together to connect students with venture coaches and other young entrepreneurs across the country. In addition, the Blackstone Foundation has awarded $2.6 million through the annual Blackstone Organizational Grants Request-for-Proposals process to twenty organizations supporting entrepreneurship nationwide and globally, and piloted the Blackstone Entrepreneurs Network at North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park, which jumpstarts entrepreneurial communities by increasing connectivity between innovators and master entrepreneurs. Learn more.


Junior Achievement Announces Entrepreneurial Reinvention

Junior Achievement, the nation’s largest youth entrepreneurship program, will launch its re-imagined flagship JA Company Program in 2014.  The experience will be more relevant and authentic and is designed to ignite that entrepreneurial spirit in high school students across America.


Over 100 Community College Presidents Commit to Entrepreneurial Transformation

The National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship (NACCE) launched the Presidents for Entrepreneurship Forum, through which community college presidents make specific commitments to advance entrepreneurship and the impact these colleges have on the economic well-being of their communities.  Over 100 community college presidents signed on at launch, with the goal of expanding to around half of all community colleges in the U.S. Learn more.


Young Entrepreneur Council Announces New “Gen Y Fund”

In response to the President’s call to action to promote high-growth entrepreneurship across the country, the Young Entrepreneur Council’s private-sector Gen Y Fund has committed to investing $10 million in as many as 100 Millennial-generation startups, including a promise to pay down any of these young entrepreneurs’ remaining federal student loan obligations over a period of three years. Learn more.


U.S. Chamber of Commerce Expands Programs for Young Entrepreneurs

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Campaign for Free Enterprise and the National Chamber Foundation will invest more than $1M in K-12, college, and post-graduate entrepreneurial education this year by forming new partnerships with Students in Free Enterprise and the Kairos Society and expanding existing partnerships with Junior Achievement and the Extreme Entrepreneurship Tour. Learn more.


Mott Foundation Announces Virtual Incubation Network for America’s Community Colleges

The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation will fund an initiative that will create a Virtual Incubation Network at America’s community colleges and led by The American Association of Community Colleges, in partnership with National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship. Virtual incubator models will be tested at ten community college locations in the country.  To increase the capacity of the community college to service their startup business community, sites will participate in learning and implementing best practices, demonstrating ways for mature business leaders and emerging small business entrepreneurs to forge productive, symbiotic relationships that stimulate the growth of new local businesses, including areas with significant economic challenges.  Practices will be captured and shared to encourage broad implementation across the community college network and in collaboration with other partners. Learn more on NACCE websiteLearn more on AACC website.

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Connecting Mentors and Entrepreneurs

Global Accelerator Network Boosts the Success of Startups Across America

In 2011, the Global Accelerator Network (previously known as the Techstars Network) launched with 15 independently owned and operated organizations that replicated the model pioneered by TechStars, a successful mentorship-driven startup accelerator operating in New York City, Boston, Seattle, Austin, London and Boulder. The Global Accelerator Network now has over 55 members and provides opportunities for networking, sharing best practices, training and ongoing support for members of this regionally diverse network, and includes members from Greenville to Los Angeles and from Providence to Phoenix. In the past three years, the Global Accelerator Network’s members have supported over 1,300 companies that have raised an aggregate of $950 million in funding and created over 5,000 jobs, putting the Network on its way to fulfilling its Startup America commitment to ensuring that over 5,000 successful and experienced entrepreneurs and investors will mentor and support 6,000 promising young entrepreneurs, increasing their success rate tenfold and creating 25,000 new jobs by 2015. Learn more.


MassChallenge Global Startup and Accelerator Expands Support for World's Highest-Growth Startups

MassChallenge has initiated a global expansion program, and anticipates providing support for 10,000 startups annually by 2020, including the direct acceleration of over 1,000 startups annually. Currently, MassChallenge uses a competition framework to award over $1.5 million annually to the world’s highest-growth, highest-impact new businesses, and provides the top 128 startups intensive support using an accelerator model. The competition is open to anyone in the world, with any new startup, in any industry. MassChallenge does not take equity from the startups it supports and does not place restrictions on participants. Every entrant receives training, written feedback, PR and networking support via expert volunteers from partner organizations, and the highest-potential startups receive over 3 months of intensive mentorship and free services, including premium office space and access to an unrivaled network of experts and investors. Support from the Blackstone Charitable Foundation, the Fallon Management Company, MassMutual, Johnson & Johnson’s Corporate Office of Science & Technology (COSAT), and Microsoft enabled MassChallenge to support over 1,000 entrepreneurs directly in 2011, and provided a platform for significant national expansion in 2012 and beyond. From 2010-2013, alumni startups raised approximately $500 million in outside funding, created 4,000 jobs, and generated revenues of $200 million. Learn more.


Astia Expands Access to Capital for Women-Led, High-Growth Startups

Astia, a curated global community of experts committed to the success of world class, women-led high-growth startups, continues to expand access to capital and opportunity to women around the world, including through the Astia Angels investor network. Astia expanded its Venture Lunch series in global partnership with Google for Entrepreneurs, and has committed to tripling the amount of women-led startups showcased. Learn more.


Rock Health Provides Full-Service Seed Funding for Interactive Health Startups

Rock Health, a full-service seed fund for digital health startups, lowers the barriers for entrepreneurs to break into healthcare. First launched with a five-month incubator program challenging entrepreneurs to address issues in health and wellness through consumer web and mobile technologies, Rock Health provides startups with funding, access to a network of partners across healthcare, strategic and operational support from their staff, and office space. Learn more.


SCORE and Wal-Mart Foundation Create Veteran Fast Launch Initiative

In 2011, SCORE created the Veteran Fast Launch Initiative to help accelerate the ability of veterans and their families to succeed as small business owners, with primary sponsorship from the Wal-Mart Foundation. Over the course of three years, the program combined a package of services, scholarships and free software with SCORE’s mentoring program. Through SCORE’s network of 13,500 volunteer mentors and trainers, Veteran Fast Launch supported 16,000 military veterans and their families and helped launch 3,000 new businesses. 

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Connecting Corporations and Entrepreneurs

Intel Commits $200 Million to Investment in U.S. Startups

To advance the goals of the Startup America initiative, Intel Capital initially commited $200 million of new investment in U.S. companies, along with senior Intel leadership serving the Startup America Partnership to share best practices from years of successful programs designed to support Intel portfolio companies. Since 2011, Intel Capital has in fact invested more than half a billion dollars in more than 200 U.S. startups. Learn more.


IBM Commits $150 Million to Accelerate U.S. Entrepreneurs

IBM committed to invest $150 million in 2011 to fund programs that promote entrepreneurs and new business opportunities in the United States, including investments to coach and mentor startup businesses throughout the U.S., expand education, build skills and mentorship programs in collaboration with the academic and venture capital communities, and provide skills and business opportunities to the growing community of software developers who collaborate on emerging technologies. Learn more.


HP Expands Entrepreneurship Training to U.S. Entrepreneurs and Supporting Institutions

HP has expanded its global entrepreneurship training program to U.S. entrepreneurs, including through its core U.S. partner, the National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship. HP Learning Initiative for Entrepreneurs (HP LIFE e-Learning) is a free, cloud-based online training program that helps aspiring and current entrepreneurs create or build their own businesses. Part of HP Living Progress – the company’s vision for creating a better future for everyone through its actions and innovations – HP LIFE e-Learning enables people to gain the business and IT skills that help create jobs and stimulate economic growth. HP LIFE e-learners have access to 22 modular courses, support from HP experts, a wealth of online resources and a global community platform for peer-to-peer and peer-to-expert exchanges. This program has reached over 1 million people globally, including within the U.S. Learn more.

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Accelerating Innovation

JumpStart Accelerates Regional Entrepreneurial Ecosystems

JumpStart Inc., a nationally recognized non-profit venture development organization based in Cleveland, Ohio, launched a national initiative to build robust partnerships to create or accelerate regionally-based innovation and entrepreneurship programs. JumpStart has worked with public, private, philanthropic and institutional leaders in 16 communities across the U.S. to assess their regional entrepreneurial ecosystems and address specific needs and challenges including the creation of new investment and commercialization funds, entrepreneurial mentoring programs, community marketing and metric collaborations among other needs. Regions that have worked with JumpStart have secured over $100 million from a wide variety of funders in order to move their regional entrepreneurial ecosystems forward. Learn more.


National Collegiate Inventors & Innovators Alliance (NCIIA) Creates Venture Launch Pathway

NCIIA, in partnership with the Lemelson Foundation, expanded its university entrepreneurship-focused grants program, and between 2011 and 2013, awarded nearly $1.69 million in grants to entrepreneurs at 52 universities in 26 states. Since its inception, NCIIA has supported and trained more than 500 student teams that have launched 200 new ventures. Collectively, they have raised more than $300 million in funding and have reached millions of people with their products in the U.S. and globally.


"Innovation Fund America" Invests in Startups from Coast to Coast

The Innovation Fund America (IFA) family of funds, which initially includes Innovation Fund North Carolina and Innovation Fund SoCal, shifts entrepreneurship education and economic development paradigms with its support for innovation-led, high-growth startups launched by first-time or inexperienced founders.  Administered by the nation's leading community colleges in partnership with regional stakeholders, in a short time IFA's members have raised over $1 million, conducted three rounds of awards and coaching, and supported over 180 startups.  IFA, established in partnership with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and Lorain County Community College, will continue to expand its members, services, and awards. Learn more.

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