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.
Why not ask businesses, venture capitalists, and engineers, what it takes to innovate? I get a kick out of people in the periphery, politicians in particular, thinking that they can orchestrate innovation.
The best the politicians can do is to not punish business and not punish entrepeneurs. And then, please get out of the way.
I think innovation's going to be the easy part in the next several years. The technology groundwork of the past 20 years has laid a foundation to put innovation tools (if you will) in the hands of millions of people who never would have thought to execute on a crazy idea.
I think the bigger problem for innovation is scaling a small company as it grows to meet demand. That's where labor force issues, regulatory issues, etc. start to come into play.
Dent's right. The climate for investing in medical electronics is about as bad as it is for semiconductors which makes no sense in our aging society.
I'm interested in what she meant about reforms yet to come in the patent system. I suspect we need patent reform reform.
C'mon, dude, spare me the Ayn Rand boilerplate. If you've ever started a business, you would know that it's nearly impossible to get health insurance for a company of one or two. Office space is dear, and grunged-out coworking spaces are no substitute. Capital is nearly impossible to raise except for the "flavor of the month" niche.
There's a MILLION things that government should and must do to enable people to strike out on their own.
Julia Spicer raised the issue of implementation of new patent reforms expected in 2013. She was referring to the details of implementation, Devil being in the details and so forth. Her take is that startups are likely to get the short end of the stick. We'll see.
David Patterson, known for his pioneering research that led to RAID, clusters and more, is part of a team at UC Berkeley that recently made its RISC-V processor architecture an open source hardware offering. We talk with Patterson and one of his colleagues behind the effort about the opportunities they see, what new kinds of designs they hope to enable and what it means for today’s commercial processor giants such as Intel, ARM and Imagination Technologies.