Yesterday, Acting Deputy Secretary Pat Gallagher participated in a panel discussion on "Bridging the Gap Between Government and Entrepreneurs" at an event hosted by #GovFest. Acting Deputy Secretary Gallagher was joined by Tameka Montgomery, Associate Administrator of the Office of Entrepreneurial Development at the Small Business Administration, and Jason Kessler, Program Executive for NASA's Asteroid Grand Challenge, in addition to Aneesh Chopra, the first U.S. Chief Technology Officer, who moderated the panel.
The conversation focused on efforts to increase communication between entrepreneurs and the federal government in order to help innovators grow businesses, create jobs and increase America's competitiveness.
Acting Deputy Secretary Gallagher highlighted the many areas where the Commerce Department is already working to support entrepreneurs. For example, two years ago, the White House called for a consumer-friendly button on utility company websites that would give consumers easy access to their own energy usage data and, in turn, save both money and support the environment. The aptly named Green Button Initiative has been a great success - 12 million households had access to the Green Button last year, which is expected to rise to 27 million in the near future. Entrepreneurs have already started to save consumers money and build value for themselves by using this data. The Green Button Initiative was built on a technical standard which was developed by a public-private partnership supported by the Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology. Similar efforts are underway in the fields of health information technologies, smart grid systems, cybersecurity, and climate data.
Another Commerce effort to empower entrepreneurs that Gallagher highlighted is BusinessUSA. It is a one-stop shop for entrepreneurs and companies to access information and resources to build their businesses. BusinessUSA implements a "no wrong door" approach by using technology to quickly connect businesses to the services and information relevant to them, regardless of which agency's website the information comes from.
Roughly 1,000 individuals attended #GovFest, including local entrepreneurs, investors and representatives from the local, state and federal government. In addition to the panel, the event featured an innovation and collaboration expo, as well as “quick chats” with subject matter experts in the field who spoke about their ideas for how entrepreneurs and governments can work together. Commerce’s U.S. Patent and Trademark Office hosted one quick chat about “Why Intellectual Property Still Matters to Start-Ups: 5 Things Every Entrepreneur, Incubator and Investor Should Know.”