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Celebrating National Entrepreneurship Month

The White House supported a range of activities in recognition of November as National Entrepreneurship Month, reaffirming the Administration's commitment to help entrepreneurs develop the products, services, and ideas of tomorrow.

In this year’s Presidential Proclamation of November as National Entrepreneurship Month, President Obama called on all Americans to “continue our work to ensure America remains home to the best minds and the most innovative businesses on earth.

Here are some highlights of how we celebrated entrepreneurship over the past month here at the White House:

The President congratulated three student winners of the National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge in the Oval Office. The students – including 13-year-old grand prize winner Lily DeBell – were chosen from a field of over 20,000 contestants. In addition, the President announced new efforts to significantly enhance immigration options for foreign entrepreneurs who seek to start and grow companies here in the United States as part of his executive actions to fix our broken immigration system.

The First Lady appeared on a special episode of ABC’s Emmy Award-winning show “Shark Tank,” featuring veteran entrepreneurs who continue to serve our country by creating jobs and fueling economic growth. The Administration continues to promote the success of veteran entrepreneurs through enhanced training and access to capital.

Vice President Biden delivered the keynote address at the fifth annual Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Marrakech, Morocco, in which he announced a new commitment by the United States to spark $1 billion in new private investments over the next three years for entrepreneurs, including social entrepreneurs, worldwide. At the summit, Dr. Jill Biden spoke at a signature event for women entrepreneurs, while Secretary Penny Pritzker (Department of Commerce) and Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet (U.S. Small Business Administration) emphasized America’s leadership as the epicenter of invention and innovation – and as a model for other countries.

We highlighted the recent accomplishments of University Innovation Fellows, a growing cohort of student leaders who are on a mission to generate more entrepreneurial activity and collaboration on campuses across the country. We also hosted the 50 winners of the Small Business Administration’s first-ever Growth Accelerator Competition, representing some of the most promising startup accelerators throughout the country. As Administrator Contreras-Sweet explained, “Incubators, or accelerators, create a multi-faceted support structure to help startups quickly launch and commercialize their ideas.” The Growth Accelerator Competition was a great opportunity to showcase how more and more Federal agencies are experimenting with the startup accelerator model to advance national priorities. For example:

  • SunShot. The SunShot Incubator Program, run by the Department of Energy (DOE), supports early-stage companies that are helping make solar energy fully cost-competitive with traditional energy sources before the end of the decade. SunShot Catalyst is an open innovation challenge that rapidly brings teams from ideation to initial funding. Together, these programs have leveraged $104 million in government funds to attract more than $1.8 billion in private-sector investment for participating companies.
  • Health Startup Challenges. The Breast Cancer Startup Challenge, launched by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), invited multidisciplinary teams to develop business plans and start new companies based on unlicensed but promising breast cancer inventions. More recently, NIH launched a Neuro Startup Challenge around brain-related inventions, based on this same startup-driven model for bringing Federally funded research from the lab to the commercial marketplace. Meanwhile, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) has launched the Market R&D Pilot Challenge, which aims to bridge technological gaps in health IT by bringing together large healthcare organizations and innovative young companies.
  • Furnace. The Department of Defense recently launched the Furnace Technology Transfer Accelerator, an intensive nine-month program designed to incubate new companies that license technologies developed at the Air Force Research Lab in Rome, New York. Furnace provides mentorship, office space and seed funding.
  • Innovation Corps. The Innovation Corps (I-Corps) program, first developed by the National Science Foundation (NSF), provides entrepreneurship training for Federally funded scientists and engineers, pairing them with business mentors for an intensive curriculum focused on discovering a demand-driven path from their lab work to a marketable product. New pilots have recently been launched by the NIH for biomedical technologies that can detect, diagnose and prevent disease, and by DOE for clean energy innovations developed at the national laboratories.  
  • Global Innovation. The Department of State’s Global Innovation through Science and Technology (GIST) initiative empowers young science and technology entrepreneurs in 86 countries to turn their ideas into new ventures that transform their communities. Since its launch in 2011, GIST has engaged with more than 2.8 million innovators and entrepreneurs around the world, providing training to over 4,500 startups that have generated more than $80 million in revenue. At the Global Entrepreneurship Summit this past month, GIST launched a new public-private partnership to deliver on-demand programming, one-on-one mentorship, and access to financing through a comprehensive online platform.

Looking ahead, in the President’s words, we will “reaffirm our commitment to support these entrepreneurs as they develop the products, services, and ideas of tomorrow.” Check out the White House Startup America initiative for updates on how the Administration is working to accelerate entrepreneurship across the country.

Doug Rand is Assistant Director for Entrepreneurship at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.