heard from 200 Pittsburgh business leaders and entrepreneurs who sent a clear message to Washington that changes were needed in federal policies and funding practices to encourage a flourishing atmosphere for innovation, financing and international commerce.
The Reducing Barriers Roundtable, held on April 28th at Chatham University
, was one of eight roundtable sessions being held across the U.S. this year in response to President Barack Obama's mandate to find ways that the federal government can best encourage business growth and job creation among small and mid-sized businesses.
This is perhaps the first time a standing president has sought real feedback on the effectiveness of the federal government through an open, democratic dialogue with the country, noted many in attendance.
"Pittsburgh looks more like America's heartbeat than either Boston or Silicon Valley," said Rich Lunak, president and CEO of Innovation Works. Pittsburgh is on track to nuture the next Google or Microsoft, but only if federal policies work in favor of entrepreneurs.
Local leaders spelled out key points during panel sessions and breakout roundtables, which focused on the energy, manufacturing, life sciences, and technology sectors.
On the wishlist to the White House:
* Improve access to funding by better facilitating translational research funding to help commercialize federally-funded research, reauthorize the SBIR program and use existing Small Business Assoc. to commit $2 billion of SBIC matching contributions to catalyze new early-stage investment.
* Improve the patent system ensuring a steady stream of innovative products. The U.S. Patent Office is committed to hiring 1500 examiners this year to facilitate the patent process, said Teresa Rae, deputy director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
* Establish a federal immigration policy that facilitates significant international talent attraction, integration and retention and is more progressive on visas.
* Create a tax credit for Angel Investors.
Senior administration officials did not attend the program as planned because their early morning flight was grounded by high winds; instead, Startup America staffers took copious notes. All suggestions will be reviewed by the adminstration, presented to the President and published on the Startup America Portal
to promote further dialogue.
Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Startup AmericaImage copyright Deb Smit