WASHINGTON – The outcome of the 2012 presidential elections isn’t expected to have much of an impact on U.S. innovation policy. Still advocates see a post-election window for bringing together entrepreneurs, investors and lawmakers to renew a dialogue that seeks to leverage U.S. entrepreneurial strength to create an innovation ecosystem.
Innovation advocates said they are looking for ways to “bolt together” the U.S. entrepreneurial system with federal policies in areas like health care, cyber security and renewable energy to create value, drive innovation and reinvigorate the economy. While there is no shortage of new ideas, hurdles like access to capital and political gridlock remain obstacles to progress at least until after the Nov. 6 presidential election, experts said.
The cost and availability of capital, how capital flows to entrepreneurs and U.S. tax policy are unresolved issues that continue to discourage direct investment in startup companies.
"We'll see how that plays out post-election,” Julia Spicer, president of the Mid-Atlantic Venture Association, told a conference on innovation and the next presidential administration.
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The current political climate looks unpromising for entrepreneurs, acknowledged Mary Dent, general counsel for Silicon Valley Bank. While the U.S. political system appears to be broken and dominated by money, Dent said a another way of looking at the current predicament is that the U.S. political system was designed to make it difficult to do things.
True, Dent said, money has great influence in politics, but "ideas are also important." Innovators with good ideas and a workable strategy can still be heard because key lawmakers understand that the U.S. retains an unparalleled entrepreneurial system, she argued.
“You can’t have an entrepreneurial economy without leaders out front,” Dent said.