'Startup America' alliance to incubate innovation in U.S.

The new Startup America Partnership is a public-private-nonprofit incubator for accelerating innovation in the U.S. Will it work?

Riding on the coattails of U.S. president Barack Obama's State of the Union speech urging America to prioritize innovation, the White House on Monday announced the creation of the Startup America Partnership.

Chaired by AOL co-founder (and Case Foundation chairman) Steve Case, the alliance is intended to foster coordination among the private sector to increase the development of "innovative, high-growth" firms in the U.S.

What that means is that the partnership will serve as a place for entrepreneurs, startup investors, CEOs, university presidents, foundations and others to meet, greet and start (or develop) companies. In essence, it's the public-private-nonprofit incubator the president and others have looked to as the answer to innovation acceleration.

"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," Case said in a statement. "Our nation once again looks to these creative risk-takers to unleash the next wave of American innovation."

Case elaborated in a blog post:

I know from my days at AOL that government can open doors and help spark new ideas. It can convene leaders and influencers from different worlds and put them in the same room to share ideas. It can challenge people and companies to do better, to do more. It can invest in and shape ground breaking research, and then, at its smartest, move aside and let innovation take hold.

But government can't do it alone. Businesses need to take up the challenge and help to create an ecosystem that nurtures the creation and growth of new enterprises, companies that are "built to last" and will be the cornerstones of tomorrow’s economy.

Kauffman Foundation CEO Carl Schramm will serve as a founding board member.

More than a dozen firms and organizations have already joined the partnership, including some big names: Intel, HP, IBM and Facebook.

In 2011:

  • Intel Capital will commit $200 million in new investment in U.S. companies.
  • IBM will invest $150 million to fund programs that promote entrepreneurs and new business opportunities in the U.S.
  • HP will invest about $4 million in a global program to educate and provide technological assistance to entrepreneurs and small business owners.
  • Facebook will launch Startup Days, a series of 12 to 15 events around the country designed to provide entrepreneurs with access to expertise, resources and engineers.

The partnership will focus on three distinct areas:

  • Acceleration and scale. Replicate successful programs; encourage an increase in experienced mentors; encourage partnerships with large companies.
  • 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, via regional ecosystem development, faculty engagement and streamlined technology licensing.

Do you think this venture will make an impact? Writing at ZDNet, SmartPlanet editor-in-chief Larry Dignan says in the pursuit of a high-technology, entrepreneurial economy, we shouldn't ignore teaching trade skills:

It's not as sexy as creating the next Facebook, but anyone who has tried to find a plumber, electrician or contractor knows the idea could be powerful.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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