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Blog Entries from September 2014

U.S. Commerce Secretary Prizker Co-Chairs Economic and Commercial Dialogue with Poland’s Deputy Prime Minister Piechocinski

U.S. Commerce Secretary Prizker Co-Chairs Economic and Commercial Dialogue with Poland’s Deputy Prime Minister Piechocinski

Yesterday, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker joined Polish Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy Janusz Piechociński in co-chairing an Executive Session of the Economic and Commercial Dialogue (ECD). The ECD is a forum created by the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Polish Ministry of Economy to work specifically on strengthening the ability of our companies and investors to do business in each other's markets. Secretary Pritzker is traveling with a delegation of some of America's top CEOs who are members of the President's Export Council.            

At yesterday's meeting, Secretary Pritzker and the PEC CEOs addressed collaborative and tangible ways to increase trade and investment between the U.S. and Poland, particularly as Poland's economy continues to grow. Poland currently has the sixth-largest and one of the fastest growing economies in the EU, and growth is projected to continue in 2014. While bilateral trade between the U.S. and Poland has quadrupled over the past 10 years, reaching nearly $8.8 billion in 2013, there is tremendous opportunity for continued growth.

One mechanism to increase trade and investment between the U.S. and Poland is the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which is currently being negotiated between the United States and the EU. Once concluded, TTIP will combine the U.S. and EU markets into a stronger transatlantic marketplace, with more than 800 million customers. The U.S. considers Poland an important voice in TTIP negotiations.

Secretary Pritzker Hosts Innovation Roundtable with Polish Industry Leaders and Startups

Secretary Pritzker Hosts Innovation Roundtable with Polish Industry Leaders and Startups
U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and a delegation of U.S. CEOs yesterday met with Poland's Minister of Higher Education and Science and a group of Polish innovators to discuss the country's efforts to encourage innovation in their economy. Secretary Pritzker was in Warsaw with a group of U.S. CEOs who are members of the President's Export Council. 
 
The Polish government has made the promotion of innovation a top priority. Poland will be receiving a total of $106 billion in funds from the European Union by 2020. Poland plans to invest about 70 percent of those funds to promote innovation. The United States is well-positioned to serve as a partner in these efforts by sharing best practices and engaging our private sector leaders in Poland to further promote innovation.
 
The discussion centered on obstacles that individuals and businesses are experiencing when it comes to innovation, and how the United States can serve as a partner in support of innovation in Poland. For example, while a strong commitment to R&D is one principal driver of innovation, Poland’s current spending on R&D is less than 1 percent of GDP.  
 
However, R&D is only one component of a strong innovation economy. The Department of Commerce is America's "innovation agency," and helps build an innovation ecosystem in the United States by supporting a strong patent system, making investments in regional business incubators and science parks, expanding access to broadband and developing technology standards. 

Manufacturing: Rebuilding America’s Economy

Manufacturing: Rebuilding America’s Economy

Guest blog post by Jay Williams, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development

Last week, I was honored to participate in Partnering for Illinois’ Economic Future Second Annual Economic Summit hosted by Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (D-IL) in Rock Island, Illinois. This summit is the highlight of an initiative the Congresswoman launched in 2013 to foster economic collaboration in the 17th Congressional District of Illinois, and my keynote focused on the challenges and opportunities facing the American manufacturing sector, how we can prepare for success in the global economy, and what is being done at the federal level to help regions succeed. 

Manufacturing matters:

* Manufacturing supports 17.4 million U.S. jobs.

* Manufacturing career opportunities include engineers, designers, machinists, and computer programmers.

* The annual average salary of manufacturing workers is more than $77,000, which is approximately 17 percent more than similar workers employed in other sectors.

* For every $1.00 spent in manufacturing, the sector creates $1.32 for the U.S. economy. 

While some have been quick to write the obits for nearby manufacturing towns like Moline, and East Moline, Illinois, and Davenport, Iowa, it was refreshing to see the close collaboration taking place locally to bring manufacturing back. 

At the national level, we are working to support our manufacturers by supporting efforts to build the President’s National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI), which is working to accelerate development and adoption of cutting-edge manufacturing technologies.

Two weeks ago, U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker spoke of the need for passage of pending bipartisan legislation that would establish the network. NNMI is all about keeping America – our manufacturers, businesses, and economy – globally competitive. NNMI is focused on helping America lead the global economy; boosting local, regional, and state economies, and most importantly, create new growth industries, right here in America. 

Secretary Penny Pritzker to Lead High-Level U.S. Business Delegation to Poland and Turkey

Secretary Pritzker met with young entrepreneurs, who are the future of a stronger Ukrainian economy, during her commercial diplomacy trip to Kyiv, Ukraine.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker will lead a high-level delegation of America’s top CEOs on an economic fact-finding mission next week to Poland and Turkey. Secretary Pritzker and the CEOs, all of whom are members of the President’s Export Council (PEC) will use the trip to identify immediate and long-term opportunities to increase trade and investment between the U.S. and Poland and the U.S. and Turkey, two high-potential, fast-growing markets. Through greater understanding of these markets, the Department of Commerce and the President’s Export Council can help U.S. companies gain better access to Poland and Turkey, so they can sell more of their goods and services abroad and support jobs here at home.

Following this trip, the PEC CEOs joining the mission will apply their commercial expertise to produce a report for President Obama, which will recommend actions the U.S. government can take to address challenges and increase trade and investment between the U.S. and Poland, and the U.S. and Turkey

Just prior to the PEC mission, Secretary Pritzker will visit Kyiv, Ukraine. Secretary Pritzker's visit to Ukraine was announced by President Obama during Ukrainian President Poroshenko’s visit to Washington, D.C. last week.  Secretary Pritzker, whose family comes from Ukraine, will use her time there to discuss with Ukrainian government and business leaders the reforms necessary to improve their business climate, attract private capital, expand opportunity, and strengthen the economy for greater investment and growth. She will also explore potential opportunities for additional commercial cooperation between the U.S. and Ukraine.

After her stop in the Ukraine, Secretary Pritzker will join the eight PEC members and Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Stefan M. Selig in Warsaw, where they will meet with Polish government officials and business leaders and gather insight on opportunities and challenges facing U.S. companies in each respective market. Following the stop in Warsaw, the group will continue on to Istanbul and Ankara, Turkey.

Supporting Manufacturers on Manufacturing Day and Every Day

Manufacturing is a crucial contributor to the economy of North Carolina and the entire United States.

Guest blog post by Greg Sizemore is the Director of the International Trade Administration’s U.S. Commercial Service team in North Carolina.

Cross-posted from Trade.gov.

Manufacturing is more than just a cornerstone of the U.S. economy; it’s a cornerstone of modern life.

The screen you’re reading this on is a manufactured commodity. The radio you’re listening to, the car you drove to work, the smartphone your kids keep staring at – your refrigerator, your TV, your medicine – all manufactured goods.

Many headlines about U.S. manufacturing are negative, focusing on increased global competition in the sector, but the fact is that the U.S. manufacturing industry is growing, it’s supporting jobs, and it is supporting higher quality of life here in the U.S. and around the world.

Manufacturing is also a major source of U.S. exports, and the International Trade Administration estimates that one in four U.S. manufacturing jobs is supported by exports. That’s huge for our economy and I’m glad that we’ll celebrate the industry on Manufacturing Day on October 3.

Here in North Carolina, our manufacturers are creating and exporting billions of dollars’ worth of transportation equipment, chemicals, electronics products plastics, and more. I’m glad that my office in Charlotte and our other Export Assistance Centers in the state get to work with local manufacturers to find opportunities to sell their quality products in foreign markets.

If you’re a manufacturer looking to do business overseas, here are some of the services an Export Assistance Center can provide for you:

  • Market Research: Find out you product’s potential in a given market. Learn about specific regulations that could affect your business model. This kind of information is crucial for your export strategy.
  • Gold Key Matchmaking: Who are the best distributors in a market? What potential joint venture partners exist? What are the best government contacts for you to have? We can find those contacts, make introductions, and make sure you spend your time doing what’s most important: managing your company.
  • Trade Missions: Imagine you could go on a trip to a target market, surrounded by market and industry experts, and meet the foreign government and industry leaders most relevant to your business. That is a trade mission. We connect you to the most relevant opportunities and contacts to make sure you have every advantage to being successful in a market.
  • Trade Leads: We have commercial diplomats on the ground in more than 70 global markets and they have their fingers on the pulse of the business environment. Let us tell you the most current and relevant opportunities for your business around the globe.

You should also consider attending an event in our DISCOVER GLOBAL MARKETS Business Forum Series. We have export-promotion events coming up in New York, Georgia, Minnesota, and – of course – North Carolina, to support your business in competing abroad. There’s no better event to give your company a leg up in the global marketplace.

There are many other ways the Commercial Service can support your manufacturing business, so contact your nearest Export Assistance Center for assistance.

As Manufacturing Day approaches, I want to thank the 50-plus North Carolina-based manufacturers who are opening their doors to the public on October 3. I hope many of you in the Tar Heel State, and around the country, will participate in Manufacturing Day this year!

Data Innovation Summit: Taking Advantage of Boston’s Big Data Movement

Under Secretary Mark Doms Speaks at the Big Data Innovation Summit in Boston, MA

Guest blog post by Mark Doms, Under Secretary for Economic Affairs

Cross-posted from ESA.gov.

I was honored to deliver the keynote address this morning to over 800 of today’s data leaders.  In preparation I had one goal: to tell the story of data -- how far the Department of Commerce has come and it’s potential for the future. These are exciting times. Over the past decade, jobs in data fields have grown at a rate 6 times faster than the economy as a whole, and these jobs pay 73% more than the typical American job.

The federal government provides fundamental statistical building blocks about our population, our economy, and our climate. This information is so pervasive that people often are unaware they are using government data. For instance, one survey found 301 billion weather forecasts are consumed per year -- information that is delivered by an array of sources, but begins with the National Weather Service, part of the Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Indeed, many of the companies attending the Big Data Innovation Summit today in Boston rely heavily upon government data.  

Since 1790, when the first Census occurred, our government has taken the time to collect information that tells the demographic and economic story of our nation. We take this commitment very seriously at the Department of Commerce and we welcome user input.  

Minority Businesses Keep the “Made in America” Brand Strong

Recent studies have shown that the pace of growth in the U.S. manufacturing sector continues to rise. Minority businesses are playing an integral part in that growth and are helping to keep the “Made in America” product strong.

This year, the Minority Business Development Agency recognized two businesses for outstanding manufacturing impact and achieving significant success in employing new and innovative techniques that led to a significant increase in market share, job growth and customer satisfaction.

The first was Detroit Manufacturing Systems, LLC (DMS). DMS currently has more than 700 employees and develops state-of-the-art automotive interior systems. By utilizing the latest technologies, DMS assembles and manufactures injection molded interior trim components for global automotive brands, all with a firm commitment to quality and efficiency.

The second award was given to Ruiz Food Products, Inc. Fred Ruiz cofounded Ruiz Food Products, Inc., with his father Louis in a small warehouse in Tulare, Ca. in 1964. The company is now celebrating its 50th anniversary, and employs 2,300 people. Ruiz Food Products has three manufacturing facilities – in Dinuba, Calif., Tulare, Calif., and Denison, Texas – and recently purchased another facility in Florence County, S.C.

Securing Intellectual Property Protection Around The World

Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the USPTO Michelle K. Lee  in Geneva

All inventors—everywhere—deserve to have their inventions protected and promoted through intellectual property (IP) law everywhere. That is why the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) international IP focus—both in terms of policymaking and in IP processing—specifically advances us toward a world of global IP promotion and protection. And that is why USPTO’s senior leadership, led by Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the USPTO Michelle K. Lee, has spent the last week leading the United States’ delegation at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) General Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland. Working with their colleagues from other major IP offices across the globe, the USPTO remains focused on Building a Better Patent System both at home and abroad.

One focus of Lee and her team in Geneva has been advancing the Global Dossier project, a signature initiative of the IP5. The IP5 includes the five largest patent offices in the world—ours, as well as Europe’s, China’s, Korea’s, and Japan’s. The USPTO hosted the 2013 IP5 meeting in Cupertino, California, where members agreed to create a one-stop-shop for applicants to file and manage a global portfolio of patent applications.

An effective Global Dossier program allows an inventor to more easily travel on the Patent Prosecution Highway, or PPH. This program ensures an inventor applying to two patent offices can benefit from those offices coordinating on the examination process. As those bilateral partnerships grew, however, it became clear that common rules of the road were needed across all PPH participating nations. Thus at the beginning of this year USPTO launched the Global PPH program, which ensures that all PPH-participating countries adhere to the same work-sharing standards. The Global PPH program now has 17 participating offices, with Singapore and Austria scheduled to join later this year.

Of course obtaining a patent faster and cheaper only matters if it is enforceable.

Commerce in the Community: Paramount Pictures Works with Local Partners to Promote Opportunity Through High-Impact Education and Mentorship Programs.

Frederick Huntsberry - Commerce in the Community

Ed. Note: This post is part of the Commerce in the Community series highlighting the work of community leaders and organizations that are strengthening the middle class and providing ladders of opportunity for all Americans.

Below is an interview Frederick Huntsberry, the Chief Operating Officer of Paramount Pictures, a position he has served in since 2006. Mr. Huntsberry started his career in entertainment in 1997 at Universal Studios and later NBC Universal where he held various positions in Finance and Business Development, as well as President, NBC Universal Television Distribution where he was responsible for all U.S. first-run syndication and domestic and international television distribution sales activities. His last position was President, NBC Universal International, where he provided strategic direction for new business development growth opportunities, as well operational oversight for international TV distribution and global networks.

Question 1: Tell us about your team at Paramount. What is your mission and main focus?

As Chief Operating Officer at Paramount Pictures, I oversee worldwide strategic planning and operations for the studio. Paramount Pictures, a subsidiary of Viacom, is a producer and distributor of feature films that have entertained audiences around the world for over 100 years. In addition, last year we announced the formation of Paramount Television which focuses on the production of made for television and digital content. We are proud of the content we create, but we’re equally inspired by the tremendous volunteer spirit of our company and employees.

What Manufacturing Really Looks Like Today

What Manufacturing Really Looks Like: Celebrating Manufacturing Day

Did you know that over 70 percent of Americans view manufacturing as the most important industry for a strong economy and national defense, but only 30 percent of parents encourage their kids to enter manufacturing? Or that the manufacturing sector has added more than 700,000 jobs over the last four-and-a-half years and is growing at twice the rate of GDP? Clearly there is a disconnect. The future of American manufacturing is bright and provides many benefits, both in the number of high-quality, good paying job opportunities and the sector’s contribution to the U.S. economy.

Here is what manufacturing really looks like today:

  • Manufacturing supports 17.4 million U.S. jobs
  • Manufacturing career opportunities include engineers, designers, machinists, computer programmers among others
  • The annual average salary of entry-level manufacturing engineers is nearly $60,000
  • The annual average salary of manufacturing workers is more than $77,000, which is approximately 17% more than similar workers employed in other sectors
  • For every $1.00 spent in manufacturing, the sector creates $1.32 for the U.S. economy
  • Manufacturing comprises 12.5% of the American GDP
  • In just five states manufacturing adds over half a trillion dollars to the economy

Manufacturing is vital to our economy and depends on a skilled workforce. Companies are reporting they have jobs they can’t fill due to a skills gap. Therefore, National Manufacturing Day, which takes place this year on October 3rd, celebrates the contributions of manufacturing the U.S. economy and the wide variety of careers that it offers. Over 1000 manufacturers from around the country are opening their doors in an effort to inform and engage the public about the industry and to attract a new generation of manufacturing workers. Make sure to find and attend an event in your area!

Three Takeaways from National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) Day

Secretary Pritzker enjoying NNMI Day with Senator Sherrod Brown and Congressmen Joe Kennedy and Tom Reed

Last Thursday, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker participated in the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) Day on Capitol Hill event. She was joined by Sen. Sherrod Brown, Reps. Joe Kennedy and Tom Reed, several business leaders and the directors of the newly established pilot Institutes of Manufacturing Innovation. NNMI Day was an opportunity to showcase the successes of the four pilot institutes in North Carolina, Youngstown, Chicago, and Detroit in the areas of additive, digital, electronics, and modern metals manufacturing. In early 2014, President Obama announced a new competition for the next manufacturing innovation institute, focused on composites materials and structures, which is the first of four additional institutes the President committed to launching this year in his State of the Union address, for a total of eight pilot institutes nationwide.

During the event Thursday, Hill staffers and other attendees had the opportunity to hear from the pilot institute directors and several private sector partners about how a National Network for Manufacturing Innovation would help improve U.S. competitiveness, increase domestic production and accelerate development of an advanced manufacturing workforce.

The following are three main takeaways from the speakers and panelists:

Lessons Learned: Exploring the Value of Open Data on Capitol Hill

Lessons Learned: Exploring the Value of Open Data on Capitol Hill

Cross blog post by Mark Doms, Under Secretary for Economic Affairs

Government data helps drive our economy and will increasingly become more important in the future. Thursday, I had the opportunity to speak on this topic at a congressional briefing hosted by U.S. Senator Mark Warner (D-VA), Chairman of the Budget Committee’s Government Performance Task Force, and the Center for Data Innovation. Panelists included Daniel Castro, Director of the Center for Data Innovation, Kathleen Phillips, COO for Zillow, Tom Schenk, Chief Data Officer for the City of Chicago, and Steven Adler, IBM’s Chief Information Strategist.

We explored how government data is the foundation of the ongoing data revolution, fostering innovation, creating jobs and driving better decision-making in both the private and public sectors. The federal government is, and will continue to be, the only provider of credible, comprehensive, and consistent data on our people, economy, and climate. We also pointed to the findings in our recently released report,“Fostering Innovation, Creating Jobs, Driving Better Decisions: The Value of Government Data,” which found that billions in economic output and trillions in resource decisions are driven by federal data.

Daniel Castro, Director of the Center for Data Innovation, urged attendees to make sure Congress continues to invest in our data infrastructure. He highlighted the value of open data, ensuring that data flows more seamlessly between the public and private sectors. Castro also focused on the need to consider new ways to enable cooperation between government and industry to maximize the benefits of big data to the greatest number in society.

Zillow’s Chief Operating Officer Kathleen Phillips discussed how her company uses a wide variety of federal and local data to better connect buyers and sellers in the real estate marketplace. Zillow provides critical information in an easy to digest mapping format for over 50 million properties around the country. Their Zillow Home Value Forecast, fed in part by federal datasets, also predicts local home values. Zillow uses data from the Census Bureau, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the Federal Housing Finance Agency and other federal sources to provide a real time evaluation of local real estate markets.

Deputy Secretary Andrews Lauds Software Industry for Helping Ensure America is Open for Business

Deputy Secretary Andrews Lauds Software Industry for Helping Ensure America is Open for Business

Today, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Bruce Andrews spoke about the software industry’s role in strengthening the economy at an event hosted by the Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA), the principal trade association for the software and digital content industry. During the event, titled “The Software Century: Analyzing Economic Impact & Job Creation,” Deputy Secretary Andrews talked with SIIA Vice President of Public Policy Mark MacCarthy about the Commerce Department’s efforts to support American businesses in the software and other high-tech sectors.

During the discussion, Deputy Secretary Andrews highlighted how the Department supports the software industry at practically every stage of development through our “Open for Business Agenda.” Those efforts include increasing broadband access across the country, linking small businesses and their customers with high-speed Internet, boosting manufacturing to provide the hardware software needs, and strengthening U.S. intellectual property protections, cybersecurity and consumer privacy.

Deputy Secretary Andrews also talked about data as a key department-wide strategic priority. Commerce is working to unleash more of its data to strengthen the nation’s economic growth; make its data easier to access, understand, and use; and, maximize the return of data investments for industries, including the software industry.

It was fitting, then, that SIIA today released a first-of-its-kind report providing detailed analysis and data related to the software industry’s output, productivity, exports and job creation. MacCarthy, former Under Secretary of Commerce for Economic Affairs Robert J. Shapiro, and representatives from Oracle, Intuit and GM discussed the report, titled “The Impact of the U.S Software Industry on the American Economy,” at the event.

The report epitomizes how government data is essential for industries to understand their contributions to the broader economy and how improvements can be made accordingly. Further, Deputy Secretary Andrews explained that the prevalence of the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis data throughout the report is a testament to the usefulness of the department’s data to help American businesses grow. The value of government data was recently highlighted in “Fostering Innovation, Creating Jobs, Driving Better Decisions: The Value of Government Data,” a Commerce report by the Economics and Statistics Administration (ESA).

Secretary Pritzker Says Increased Gender Diversity in Corporate Boardrooms is Vital to Economic Success

Secretary Pritzker Says Increased Gender Diversity in Corporate Boardrooms is Vital to Economic Success

Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker addressed the urgent need to boost our companies’ economic competitiveness by bringing more women into corporate leadership at the Global Conference on Women in the Boardroom, hosted by the Johns Hopkins University’s Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). 

Pritzker noted that this pressing challenge of addressing the of a lack of women in corporate leadership is nothing new in American business. Female advancement in corporate America is stagnant. Women hold less than 5 percent of Fortune 500 CEO positions. Women hold less than 17 percent of board seats at Fortune 500 companies. And 10 percent of these companies have no women on their boards at all. 

Women in corporate leadership roles is not solely a women’s issue. Secretary Pritzker argued that it is an issue of economic competitiveness and the presence of more women in the boardroom is critical to companies’ creativity, performance, and ability to thrive in the 21st century. Leadership with diverse and different backgrounds typically mean more creativity, fresh ideas, and better outcomes. 

To increase the number of women in the boardroom, Secretary Pritzker recommended five steps to integrate gender diversity into corporate DNA:

  1. Engage men in senior leadership to look outside their known circle of colleagues.
  2. Develop deliberate strategies for recruitment, including establishing a rule that a board’s nominating committee must consider at least one woman per opening.
  3. Review the impact of internal policies on female employees, including sick, family, medical, and maternity leave, then change then where appropriate.
  4. Ensure equal opportunities for mentoring and professional development.
  5. Measure and disclose company’s diversity statistics and couple that with action. 

Secretary Pritzker committed herself to highlighting the issue of women in the boardroom, tout solutions, and advance diversity. She promised to continue to call on leaders to act – in government and in business and she will highlight companies that set the example, recruit more women to join their boards, and take action to improve their reputations and their bottom line. 

Secretary Pritzker concluded, “When women have a voice in corporate leadership, American companies thrive and the American economy prospers. When women have a seat in the boardroom, American business succeeds.”

Expanded 2014 Edison Scholars Program to Focus on Litigation Issues

Expanded 2014 Edison Scholars Program to Focus on Litigation Issues

Guest blog post by Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the USPTO Michelle K. Lee 

I’m delighted to welcome our 2014 Thomas Alva Edison Visiting Scholars to the USPTO. The Edison Scholar program, which began in 2012, enlists the services of distinguished academic researchers to study intellectual property issues that further the USPTO’s mission and the public interest. The scholars devote up to six months of full time service to the agency, or up to a year in part-time service. 

Past Edison Scholars have studied ways to improve the USPTO’s efficiency and performance, decrease burdens on applicants, and improve patent quality and clarity. Their work has generated concrete proposals for patent policy and continues to deliver exceptional results.

Because of its success, the White House Task Force on High-Tech Patent Issues directed the USPTO to expand the Edison Scholars program to study an issue that is of particular and urgent interest, abusive patent litigation. Last fall, the USPTO issued a call for proposals and began a competitive selection process to fulfill this mandate. We have five Edison Scholars this year, including three “Research Fellows” who were selected to specifically develop and publish robust data and research on litigation issues. They’ll be working within our Office of Policy and International Affairs, led by Chief Policy Officer Shira Perlmutter. We look forward to the contributions of all the 2014 Edison Scholars on these essential topics.

2014 Thomas Alva Edison Visiting Scholars

Graeme Dinwoodie is professor of Intellectual Property and Information Technology Law at the University of Oxford, Director of the Oxford IP Research Centre, and a Professorial Fellow of St. Peter’s College. Professor Dinwoodie is an international authority on comparative IP law and is the author of five casebooks. He earned his J.S.D. from Columbia Law School. Research topic: Professor Dinwoodie will study the role of trademark registrations in defining rights as to infringement, whether to confirm market usage rights already in effect or to provide broader protections that enable economic expansion.

Commerce’s NIST Megacities Project on Improving Accuracy of Greenhouse Gas Measurements Named ‘Project to Watch’ by United Nations

Sensors located around Los Angeles provide measurements of greenhouse gas mixing ratios of carbon dioxide, methane and carbon monoxide. Aircraft, mobile laboratories and satellites contribute remote-sensing measurement.

A greenhouse gas field measeurment research program developed by scientists at the Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and several collaborating institutions has been named a “Project to Watch” by a United Nations organization that focuses on harnessing big data for worldwide benefit. 

The Megacities Carbon Project was launched in 2012 to solve a pressing scientific problem: how to measure the greenhouse gases that cities produce. Urban areas generate at least 70 percent of the world’s fossil fuel carbon dioxide emissions, but gauging a city’s carbon footprint remains difficult due to the lack of effective measurement methods. The project aims to change that by developing and testing techniques for both monitoring urban areas’ emissions and determining their sources.

The large sensor networks that each city in the Megacities Carbon Project employs generate huge amounts of data that could reveal the details of the cities’ emissions patterns. It is the project’s use of this so-called “big data” that drew accolades in the Big Data Climate Challenge, hosted by U.N. Global Pulse and the U.N. Secretary General’s Climate Change Support Team. The ability to analyze big data—vast quantities of electronic information generated by many sources—has the potential to provide new insights into the workings of society, and Global Pulse is working to promote awareness of the opportunities big data presents across the U.N. system.

Launched in May 2014, the competition attracted submissions from organizations in 40 countries. The applicants ran from academia to private companies to government initiatives like the Megacities Carbon Project. Two projects earned top honors, while a total of seven were dubbed Projects to Watch.

U.S. Commerce Department Releases Data on Nation's Growing Hispanic Population to Kick Off Hispanic Heritage Month

U.S. Commerce Department Releases Data on Hispanic Population to Kick Off Hispanic Heritage Month

To kickoff the start of Hispanic Heritage Month, the Commerce Department's Census Bureau recently released a range of updated statistics describing the demograhic state of the nation's Latino population. 

In September 1968, Congress authorized President Lyndon B. Johnson to proclaim National Hispanic Heritage Week, observed during the week that included Sept. 15 and Sept. 16. Congress expanded the observance in 1989 to a monthlong celebration (Sept. 15 – Oct. 15) of the culture and traditions of those who trace their roots to Spain, Mexico and the Spanish-speaking nations of Central America, South America and the Caribbean. 

September 15 is the starting point for the celebration because it is the anniversary of independence of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on Sept. 16 and Sept. 18, respectively. Below are a few key facts on the Hispanic population: 

54 million 

The Hispanic population of the United States as of July 1, 2013, making people of Hispanic origin the nation’s largest ethnic or racial minority. Hispanics constituted 17 percent of the nation’s total population. Source: 2013 Population Estimates. 

1.1 million  

Number of Hispanics added to the nation’s population between July 1, 2012, and July 1, 2013. This number is close to half of the approximately 2.3 million people added to the nation’s population during this period. Source: 2013 Population Estimates, National Characteristics: Population by Sex, Race, and Hispanic origin <http://www.census.gov/popest/data/national/asrh/2013/index.html>, See first bullet under “Sex, Race, and Hispanic Origin."

USPTO Deputy Director Michelle Lee Discusses Entrepreneurship and Job Creation at the Virginia Innovation Partnership Virginia Ventures Forum

Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Michelle K. Lee addressed the Virginia Ventures Forum, a meeting of the statewide Virginia Innovation Partnersh

Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Michelle K. Lee today addressed the Virginia Ventures Forum, a meeting of the statewide Virginia Innovation Partnership (VIP) at the USPTO.  One of only seven multi-institution initiatives to win federal funding from the U.S. Department of Commerce's i6 Challenge in 2012, VIP is bringing together universities, community colleges, corporations, investment capital, and other resources to drive promising research discoveries forward and accelerate innovation and economic growth throughout the Commonwealth.

Some of VIP’s funded projects for 2013-14 included “Development of a novel chimeric vaccine for tick-transmitted disease” at Virginia Commonwealth University, “Laser Modification of Metallic Surfaces for Industrial Applications” at the University of Virginia, and “Next Generation Diagnostics” at George Washington University.  All Virginia colleges and universities were invited to apply for proof-of-concept funding.  Projects selected by VIP’s review and advisory boards were granted access to VIP’s expansive mentoring network and matching funds from VIP partners.  It is the Partnership’s hope that the VIP will serve as a model for adoption by other states as well.

“By working together,” Lee said at today’s event, “government, universities, and private enterprise can spur innovations that make our world a better place, while fueling entrepreneurship and job creation in Virginia and beyond.”

Also speaking at the Forum were Tom Skalak, Vice President for Research at the University of Virginia; Matt Erskine, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Economic Development at the Department of Commerce; and Aneesh Chopra, senior advisor to The Advisory Board Company and the nation’s first Chief Technology Officer from 2009-12.

Celebrating the 20th Anniversary of AmeriCorps and Our Country’s Commitment to Public Service

Categories:
Celebrating the 20th Anniversary of AmeriCorps and Our Country’s Commitment to Public Service

Guest blog post by Joshua Dickson, Director, Department of Commerce’s Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships 

Our country is built on a deeply-held commitment to service and community. From our women and men in uniform to our educators to those who administer important government programs, each day millions of Americans give of themselves to ensure the safety, hope and livelihood of their neighbor.  Without a doubt, one of the great things about the United States is the way in which the success of each of us is tied to the success of all of us. 

The AmeriCorps national service program, which celebrates its 20th Anniversary today, is a fantastic representation of this. AmeriCorps engages more than 75,000 Americans in intensive service each year at nonprofits, schools, public agencies, and community and faith-based groups across the country. Since the program’s founding in 1994, more than 900,000 AmeriCorps members have contributed more than 1.2 billion hours in service across America while tackling pressing problems and mobilizing millions of volunteers for the organizations they serve. 

I had the honor to serve with AmeriCorps and it was a transformational experience. As a kindergarten teacher on the South Side of Chicago with Teach For America, I saw firsthand the inequities faced by too many Americans living in low-income communities around the country. My students, 100% of whom were on free or reduced-price lunch, entered school with tremendous eagerness and aptitude. At the same time, they faced the daunting reality that, in Chicago, they have just a 60% chance of graduating from high school. And I saw the way in which the obstacles brought on by poverty can play a role. Whether it was the inability to afford appropriate school supplies, the lack of access to high-quality pre-school or tutoring services, or having to skip meals once the school day commenced, my students faced a litany of challenges simply based on the circumstances they were born into. 

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Welcomes Chinese Delegation

Deputy Director Michelle K. Lee discussed a number of key intellectual property (IP) issues at the Intellectual Property Rights Working Group meeting of the Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT)

On September 11, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Deputy Director Michelle K. Lee discussed a number of key intellectual property (IP) issues at the Intellectual Property Rights Working Group meeting of the Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT), co-chaired by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.

Deputy Director Lee welcomed Assistant Minister of the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, TONG Daochi and his delegation of Chinese IP officials this week for the opening of the JCCT meeting. The meeting included a tour of USPTO headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia, and commemorated 35 years of USPTO and U.S. Commerce Department training and assistance on IP matters with China.

In her remarks, Deputy Director Lee said, “We maintain close and effective office-to-office relationships with our counterpart agencies in China and have a strong history of collaboration. Our relationship rests on a firm foundation and we look forward to expanding our engagement and exchanging ideas in the future.”

The Chinese delegation visited the Global Intellectual Property Academy, a facility which serves as the U.S. government’s preeminent facility for enabling exchange of thoughts and ideas concerning intellectual property. Then they participated in the JCCT meeting, which covered patent, trademark, copyright, and trade secret issues that are at the forefront of the U.S.-China relationship.

Updated “Whale Alert” iPad, iPhone app invites public to contribute to protection of West Coast whales

Updated “Whale Alert” iPad, iPhone app invites public to contribute to protection of West Coast whales

Mariners and the public on the U.S. West Coast can now use an iPad™ and iPhone™ to help decrease the risk of injury or death to whales from ship strikes. 

Whale Alert, a free mobile application originally developed in 2012 to help protect endangered right whales on the East Coast, has been updated with new features to provide mariners in the Pacific with the most current information available about whale movements and conservation initiatives. The app uses GPS, Automatic Identification System, Internet and NOAA nautical charts to provide mariners with a single source of information about whale locations and conservation measures that are active in their immediate vicinity.
 
Slow-moving whales are highly vulnerable to ship strikes, since many of their feeding and migration areas overlap with shipping lanes. In 2007, four blue whales were killed by confirmed or likely ship strike in and around the Santa Barbara Channel. NOAA Fisheries declared this an Unusual Mortality Event. In 2010, five whales (two blue, one humpback and two fin whales) were killed by confirmed or likely ship strikes in the San Francisco area and elsewhere along the north-central California coast.
 
Whale Alert has been developed by a collaboration of government agencies, academic institutions, non-profit conservation groups and private sector industries, led by NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries. Collaborating organizations include Bioacoustics Research Program at Cornell University, Cape Cod National Seashore, Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping at the University of New Hampshire, Conserve I.O., Excelerate Energy, EOM Offshore, International Fund for Animal Welfare, Massachusetts Port Authority, NOAA Fisheries, National Park Service, Point Blue Conservation Science, U.S. Coast Guard and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, as well as shipping industry representatives.
 
Whale Alert can be downloaded free of charge from Apple’s App Store.

You Don’t Have to Start a Business to Think Like an Entrepreneur

You Don’t Have to Start a Business to Think Like an Entrepreneur

Guest blog post by Jay Williams, Assistant Secretary for Economic Development

One of my favorite things about my time as Mayor of Youngstown was having the opportunity to go out and speak to students in local schools. I found myself inspired and energized by their enthusiasm and idealism. It’s so easy to get cynical in this world, but young people tend to be optimistic about the future, and it’s nice to be reminded that there are infinite possibilities for all of us – even those of us who have been out in the world for a while. 

I have had the opportunity to speak to many different audiences in my previous role as the executive director of the auto recovery office and recently as Assistant Secretary. But last week, I got to get back to what I love when Montgomery College invited me to address its Business and Economics majors. 

I was humbled by the turnout – in a room that had more than 75 seats, there was standing room only. Most of the students in attendance were minorities or immigrants, and it was very meaningful to me to be able to address such a group as an official of the Obama Administration.

After a brief overview of my background and what EDA does, I turned the floor over to the students. I wanted to know more about them. I had been told by the faculty that many in the audience hoped to be entrepreneurs and start their own businesses someday. As I listened to their business ideas, I thought about our work with EDA. These students are on a continuum, much like the communities we help. Some just have an inkling that they want to be their own bosses while others wanted to know how they could make money of a fully fleshed out idea. Some need help with planning while others need help securing capital.

NOAA Ship & National Aquarium Co-Host Star-Spangled Events & Tours

NOAA Ship & National Aquarium Co-Host Star-Spangled Events & Tours

On Sept. 10, NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer, America’s Ship for Ocean Exploration, joined a parade of tall ships, Navy vessels, and other boats entering Baltimore Harbor as part of the Star-Spangled Spectacular, a week-long festival celebrating the 200th anniversary of the national anthem. 

Okeanos Explorer will be moored next to the National Aquarium through Sept. 16. During that time, the Aquarium and the ship will co-host a range of events, including public tours. 

Star-Spangled Spectacular events also include living history demonstrations, a family fun zone, live musical performances, and food vendors. Public events culminate on Sept. 13, when two concerts will take place, as well as a fireworks display over Fort McHenry and the Baltimore harbor. For more information about NOAA and National Aquarium-hosted events go to http://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/about/what-we-do/oer-updates/2014/baltimore-090914.html

The Okeanos Explorer is the only federal vessel assigned to systematically explore the ocean for the purpose of discovery and the advancement of knowledge. She methodically maps the deep seafloor and conducts several major expeditions each year using a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) to investigate seafloor habitats. ROV expeditions are live-streamed to the oceanexplorer.noaa.gov website, where anyone can follow along as a virtual explorer. Through telepresence technology, scientists on shore are able to participate remotely in real time, helping aid in discovery and identification of species, geological features, and other deep-sea phenomena. Okeanos Explorer is in port between Legs II and III of her current expedition, Our Deepwater Backyard: Exploring the Atlantic Canyons and Seamounts. The expedition, taking place Sept. 16-Oct. 7, will explore the diverse deep-sea environments just off the Northeast coast—in other words, within a couple of hundred miles of one of the most densely populated areas of the U.S.  This area is home to deep-sea corals, chemosynthetic communities, and unique geological features. Much of the area is unknown and has never been seen by humans. 

 



President’s Export Council to Participate in Administration’s First-Ever Fact-Finding Mission

President’s Export Council to Participate in Administration’s First-Ever Fact-Finding Mission

Guest blog post by Stefan M. Selig, Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade

Yesterday, Secretary Pritzker and I announced that we will lead a high-level delegation on an economic fact-finding trip to Poland and Turkey later this month. I am excited to participate in the first PEC fact-finding mission for the Obama administration. 

That delegation — members of the President’s Export Council (PEC) — is the principal advisory committee on international trade to the president. It includes both public officials and private sector leaders. 

The private sector leadership that will participate during the trip represent many of the most successful and important companies doing business globally today. That includes the PEC vice chair, Ursula Burns, Chairman and CEO of Xerox Corporation. 

CEOs and senior executives from Lockheed Martin, Marriott International, Archer Daniels Midland, Boeing, Dow Chemical, eBay, IBM, and Pfizer, among others, will also participate in the fact-finding mission. 

With Poland as the sixth largest economy in the EU, and Turkey tripling its GDP per capita since 2002, the trade and investment opportunities are plenty and promising, particularly as they relate to economic growth for American businesses. 

After exploring potential opportunities in these countries, the PEC will report its findings to President Obama later this year. This trip is also an occasion for both the administration and American businesses to expand its presence in the field of commercial diplomacy. Working together as partners, we are deepening U.S. economic ties and continue to strengthen our presence on the global stage. 

In fact, one of the reasons I am excited to lead ITA at this moment in time, is because I believe we have a significant role in shaping international economic priorities.  

We can drive commercial diplomacy to new heights. 

From our Doing Business in Africa campaign, which helps facilitate business deals that result in trade-based development for the continent and jobs for the United States, to our Look South Initiative, which is designed to increase trade and investment with our neighbors to the south, or trade missions that promote clean, renewable energy throughout the world, the linkages between our trade and our diplomatic priorities is clearer than ever. 

For more information about the PEC, its members, or history, visit http://trade.gov/pec. Stay tuned for our report to the president. 

The Survey of Business Owners and Self-Employed Persons Is Key to Explaining America’s Economy

The Survey of Business Owners and Self-Employed Persons Is Key to Explaining America’s Economy

Cross blog post by John Thompson, Director, U.S. Census Bureau

Did you know that there are 27.1 million non-farm businesses in America? The U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Business Owners and Self-Employed Persons provides the only comprehensive source of statistics about business ownership in the U.S. The Census Bureau conducts the SBO every five years. This is the first time the SBO is being conducted primarily online.

If you own a business, such as a salon or a landscaping company, you may be one of the one million Americans selected to participate in the Survey of Business Owners. Even if you do not have employees other than yourself, we want to hear from you. By participating online now, you can help provide consistent, comparable, and comprehensive statistics on U.S. business performance. For example, the 2007 SBO showed us that 5.9 percent of responding firms reported income from e-commerce – an important insight into how the Internet is shaping our economy.

Right now we are in the process of asking respondents to fill out the Survey of Business Owners, which is part of, and benchmarked to, the 2012 Economic Census. We begin the Survey of Business Owners after the data collection phase of the Economic Census is complete. It provides information every five years on business characteristics (e.g., if a business is home-based, or how much start-up capital it received) and owner characteristics (such as gender, race and ethnicity, and veteran status) for businesses of all sizes across America.

Businesses of all sizes are crucial to the U.S. economy and having quality statistics on businesses is critical. Some of the ways that government leaders and others use SBO statistics include:

  • Business owners are able to analyze their operations in comparison to similar firms, compute their market share, and assess their growth prospects.
  • Entrepreneurs can make informed decisions about what types of products and services to sell, and where to sell them. They can also use SBO data in business plans and loan applications.
  • The Small Business Administration can assess business assistance needs and allocate available resources.
  • Local government commissions are able to establish and evaluate contract procurement practices.
  • Federal, state, and local government agencies have a framework for planning, directing, and assessing programs that promote veteran-, women-, and minority-owned businesses.
  • Researchers can analyze long-term economic and demographic shifts, and differences in ownership and performance among geographic areas.

“Built to Last” – Secretary Pritzker Talks to Investors about the Build America Investment Initiative

 Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker discussed the Administration’s efforts to “Build America” at the Infrastructure Investment Summit hosted by the U.S. Departments of Treasury and Transportation.

Today, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker discussed the Administration’s efforts to “Build America” at the Infrastructure Investment Summit hosted by the U.S. Departments of Treasury and Transportation.  The Summit brought together senior Administration officials and more than 100 leaders from industry, finance, philanthropy, and local and state governments to highlight the urgent need to invest in our country’s infrastructure, build public-private partnerships, and develop strategies for increasing investment in sectors like transportation, water, telecommunications, and energy.

During her address, Secretary Pritzker described the central role the Department of Commerce is playing in expanding infrastructure investments and facilitating connections between government, investors, and local leaders.

The Secretary outlined several of the ways the Department is taking the lead. First is through SelectUSA, the first-ever government-wide program designed to attract and retain investment in the United States, which works to connect current and potential investors with local communities interested in attracting infrastructure investment.

Second is the work of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), which has strengthened our digital infrastructure though more than $4 billion in grants since 2009 to increase broadband access to underserved communities in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

1776 Roundtable: Businesses Growing Out of Data

Under Secretary Mark Doms Addresses Entrepreneurs at 1776

Guest blog post by Mark Doms, Under Secretary for Economic Affairs

This morning, I visited start-up hub 1776, to discuss the Department of Commerce’s efforts to make government data more accessible and informative – to build businesses, grow the economy and help governments and individuals make more informed decisions.

One of my roles as the Under Secretary for Economic Affairs is to connect with our data users, (our customers), to discuss our strategic initiatives in the data space, and gather feedback from interested businesses, government officials, and the public.

At 1776, we met with key stakeholders from innovative start-ups like ID.me, Haystack, Narrative Science, Brigade, Ride Scout (just purchased by Daimler), and firms like Yelp, which has graduated from the start-up phase to employ thousands with offices around the world.

All are users of federal, state and local data, and all are making a contribution to our economy, through employment and the deployment of new technologies that spur innovation and improve peoples’ lives. It was a great conversation, and we gathered some excellent ideas to explore, such as the possibility of using private sector developed APIs for public sector data dissemination.

As a convener and facilitator of world class talent, 1776 sets the model for start-up hubs across the country. Thanks to our hosts and participants for a great event!

Calling Kids of All Ages: USPTO Launches Web Page Encouraging Invention and Science and Tech in School

Calling Kids of All Ages:  USPTO Launches Kids Page Encouraging Invention and Science and Tech in School

Did you know that only one U.S. president earned a patent? Do you know which one? Have you ever wondered where the famous expression “The Real McCoy” comes from?

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) launched a newly redesigned section of its website for kids, but not kids alone! Parents, teachers, and teens will find lots of resources as well as hands-on activities for anyone from preschool to high school. The website encourages students of all ages to engage making, inventing, and discovering the importance of intellectual property. The site also exposes future inventors and entrepreneurs to the inventive thinking process. 

When the children in your life check out the new USPTO KIDS! pages, they’ll discover interesting facts about inventors and learn how they can bring ‘creations of the mind’ to life!  

The website includes games, coloring pages, an audio library of sound marks, videos created by NBC Learn in collaboration with the USPTO and the National Science Foundation (NSF), Girl Scouts’ intellectual property patch activities, lesson plans for teachers, and a list of upcoming events. 

Students can explore collectible cards featuring interesting facts about past and current inventors from diverse walks of life. They’ll also see profiles of inventors their own age, such as Marissa Streng, who while still in elementary school received a utility patent for her dog dryer invention and is the owner of a federally registered trademark. Marissa’s story was featured earlier this year on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. Another featured student, Rebecca Hyndman, received a patent for the invention of an under-floor that she designed as an 8th grader. Rebecca was called upon to introduce President Obama at the signing of a historic patent reform bill, the America Invents Act.  

Deputy Secretary Andrews Highlights Efforts to Boost Rural Exports in Upstate New York

Deputy Secretary of Commerce Bruce Andrews says that his native Syracuse is 'poised to succeed' at the White House Rural Council "Made in Rural America" Forum

Today, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Bruce Andrews highlighted efforts to boost rural exports in upstate New York at a “Made in Rural America” forum at SUNY Cortland. Deputy Secretary Andrews was joined by U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) at the event, where both delivered remarks on how to position rural America for success in the 21st century.

Co-hosted by the White House, U.S. Commerce Department, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Appalachian Regional Commission, the forum convened local business leaders, industry representatives, economic development organizations and local, state and federal leaders to discuss ways to help rural businesses grow. The forum supports the Administration’s “Made in Rural America” Export and Investment Initiative that President Obama announced earlier this year to help rural businesses and leaders take advantage of new investment opportunities and access new markets abroad.

In his remarks, Deputy Secretary Andrews discussed Commerce Department work to ensure small and medium-size businesses have the tools needed to begin or expand exports and create good jobs. Specifically, he outlined goals to expand the national and global footprint of our local and rural businesses; create good-paying jobs for our workers; and cultivate prosperity in communities across Central New York.

Back to School -- Census Bureau Introduces the Statistics in the Schools Program

Statistics in Schools

Cross blog post by John H. Thompson, Director, U.S. Census Bureau

A lot of our work at the Census Bureau looks toward the future – next year’s American Community Survey, or the decennial Census in 2020, for example. One exciting forward-looking initiative is our Statistics in Schools (SIS) program. Research shows that jobs related to statistics are expected to increase by more than 25 percent over the next decade, and SIS is part of our efforts to help make sure students are prepared for them.

Statistics in Schools supports statistics education by providing grade-appropriate classroom activities in math and history, and many resources – such as maps, news articles, videos, infographics, and games – for K-12 teachers to use. Staff from all areas of the Census Bureau worked together to create these activities, which are available online at no charge. Some examples of the activities teachers can find are:

  • Tools for identifying the demographics of specific states and metro areas.
  • Activities to analyze information correlating income to educational attainment.
  • Specific data, such as the number of single-father households, vehicles per household, and salary based on industry sector.
  • Worksheets to graph state population demographics.
  • Activities for estimating how many people in the U.S. walk to work.

The activities are aligned to national standards, including Common Core State Standards and the UCLA National Standards for History. They aren’t intended to replace existing curricula, but rather complement existing lesson plans.

U.S. Department of Commerce Announces $15 Million Grant Competition to Spur Regional Innovation

U.S. Department of Commerce Announces $15 Million Grant Competition to Spur Regional Innovation

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker today announced the launch of the Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) $15 million 2014 Regional Innovation Strategies Program competition to spur innovation capacity-building activities in regions across the nation. Under this program, EDA is soliciting applications for three separate funding opportunities, including: the i6 Challenge, Science and Research Park Development grants, and cluster grants to support the development of Seed Capital Funds.

“President Obama and I are committed to strengthening American innovation, which is crucial for sustained economic growth and competitiveness,” said Secretary Pritzker. “The EDA Regional Innovation Strategies Program announced today, which builds on the highly successful i6 Challenge, will help spur innovation through the development and strengthening of regional innovation clusters. Innovation clusters strengthen communities by creating good jobs and growing regional economies nationwide.”

“EDA helps foster connected, innovation-centric economic sectors to support commercialization and entrepreneurship, including through regional innovation clusters,” said U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Jay Williams. “EDA’s new funding opportunity will provide more communities and regions with the resources they need to help local businesses start and grow. Specifically, EDA will help regions across the country develop regional innovation strategies, including proof of concept and commercialization centers, feasibility studies for the creation and expansion of science and research parks, and opportunities to close the funding gap for early-stage companies. This new funding opportunity is also an important component of the Administration’s commitment to build globally competitive regions.”.

The 2014 Regional Innovation Strategies Program originally started as the Regional Innovation Program under the reauthorization of the America COMPETES Act of 2010. This year’s program includes $15 million in funding for the following programs:

  • i6 Challenge ($8M): Launched in 2010 as part of the Startup America Initiative, the i6 Challengeis a national competition based on the most impactful national models for startup creation, innovation, and commercialization. The 2014 i6 has been broadened to include growing or expanding existing centers or programs and considering funding for later-stage Commercialization Centers, which provide opportunities for fine tuning and refinement of innovations. Special consideration will be given to programs which include initiatives focusing on innovative manufacturing and exports. 

NIST Team Honored for Work on Military Smartphone Apps, Security

NIST Team Honored for Work on Military Smartphone Apps, Security

The U.S. Department of Commerce's today announced researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have earned a 2014 GCN Award for Information Technology Excellence* for speeding development and delivery of secure, battlefield-handy—and sometimes lifesaving—smartphone apps to U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

The four-year NIST effort included distilling soldiers’ needs into app requirements, evaluating app performance, and designing a unique smartphone security architecture. It is among 10 GCN-recognized public-sector projects “showing the power of mobile technology to transform the government IT enterprise.”

The NIST team of engineers and computer scientists was funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), under its Transformative Apps (TransApps) program. Working with soldiers, contract app developers and others, NIST contributed two brands of expertise—cybersecurity and software performance evaluation. And it organized the collaboration to accomplish DARPA’s objective, "Develop a diverse array of militarily relevant software applications using an innovative new development and acquisition process."

Within about a year after its 2010 start, DARPA-funded collaborators delivered a batch of commercially available smartphones and an initial set of secure, soldier-defined apps to an Army brigade in Afghanistan. By 2013, about 4,000 mobile devices (smartphones and tablets) were deployed in Afghanistan, and an online apps store was up and running for soldiers. The site now features about 60 apps—from map displays to a calculator for estimating blast distances to language games—and it offers regular upgrades.

One of the most popular apps is HeatMap, which color codes routes to indicate frequency of troop use, helping soldiers to vary their travel patterns.

U.S. Department of Commerce Invests Nearly $2 Million to Support Entrepreneurs and Startups in South Carolina

U.S. Department of Commerce Invests Nearly $2 Million to Support Entrepreneurs and Startups in South Carolina

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker today announced that the Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) is awarding a $1.9 million investment to the University of South Carolina (USC)/Columbia Technology Incubator. The grant will support the building of a new startup center to serve as the regional hub for the development of entrepreneurship, incubation, and acceleration programs for early stage ventures across South Carolina. According to the grantee, the investment is expected to create 698 jobs and generate $11.9 million in private investment in the first five years of the project.

The Obama Administration and Commerce Department have prioritized supporting American innovation and entrepreneurship, which are key drivers of U.S. competitiveness, job growth and long-term economic growth. The EDA investment announced today will support an important infrastructure project that support public-private partnerships with the University of South Carolina to help local entrepreneurs and businesses grow.

EDA’s investment will support the construction a 50,000-square-foot technology and incubation facility. As the first development in a new technology corridor in USC’s Innovista Innovation District, the center is expected to serve as a critical facility for integrating USC and the Columbia Metro region's entrepreneurial activities. This facility will be able to take advantage of its proximity to the University of South Carolina's research activities, emerging technologies in the region, and student/faculty talent to help create a world class regional innovation ecosystem.

In addition, the investment will facilitate the co-location of entrepreneurs, technology startups, existing and mature technology ventures, and the region's community of entrepreneurial support organizations to create a mixture of talent, technology, capital, and mentoring. The grantee expects this co-location to facilitate the launch and acceleration of a new generation of technology ventures in the state.

Daring to Be Great in Supporting U.S. Exporters

Many of ITA’s senior commercial diplomats from around the globe are meeting in Washington, D.C. to discuss ways to better support business investors and U.S. exporters.

Cross blog post by by Judy Reinke, Deputy Director General of the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service

Many of ITA’s senior commercial diplomats from around the globe are meeting in Washington, D.C. to discuss ways to better support business investors and U.S. exporters.

In order to support U.S. businesses going global, the International Trade Administration itself needs to be global.

That’s why we maintain staff throughout the United States and in more than 70 markets around the world, connecting companies of all sizes to opportunities in the international marketplace.

Technology has helped us execute our mission across borders, between time zones, and through language barriers. But just like we tell our clients seeking overseas partners, sometimes there’s no substitute for an old-fashioned face-to-face meeting.

That’s why I am excited about our Global Markets Global Meeting this week, bringing together ITA’s senior Commercial Service staff from the United States and around the world to share best practices, learn about new opportunities, and connect with the people who are making commerce happen – people we sometimes only know by email.

It’s been more than 10 years since our last meeting of this magnitude, and this week’s event will enable us to better execute our mission and understand new methods to better support our clients.

Commerce Department Reports Demonstrate that Exports Continue to Help Spur U.S. Economy and Support Jobs

Exports of Goods Supported 7.1 million jobs in 2013

Guest Blog Post by Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker

The Obama Administration and the U.S. Department of Commerce today released two new reports that further prove exports are strengthening our economy and creating good jobs. I am very pleased that for the very first time, our department has released data detailing the number of jobs supported by goods exports in 2013 in each of the 50 states. A second report released today highlights the level of goods exports achieved by each of the nation’s 387 Metropolitan Statistical Areas in 2013.

Back in 2010, President Obama launched the first-ever national strategy to increase exports, the National Export Initiative (NEI), with the idea that American businesses could lead our economic recovery by selling more of their goods and services to markets all over the world. The NEI has been a remarkable success. The United States has broken export records for four straight years, hitting an all-time high of $2.3 trillion dollars last year, up $700 billion from 2009. And just four years after NEI was launched, we know that 1.6 million more Americans have export-supported jobs, bringing the total to 11.3 million Americans who wake up every day and go to work in jobs supported by exports.

Today’s new data show more evidence of the NEI’s success. The first report released today, Jobs Supported by Goods Exports from States in 2013, breaks down the national total of jobs supported by good exports in 2013, 7.1 million, into estimates of the number of jobs in each state that are supported by goods exports. Texas exports supported more jobs – an estimated 1.1. million – than were supported by the exports from any other single state. Data show that goods exports from Texas, California, Washington, Illinois and New York supported an estimated 3 million jobs, or 43 percent of all U.S. jobs supported by exports in 2013.

The Value of Government Weather and Climate Data

Guest blog post by Jane Callen, Economics and Statistics Administration

The U.S. Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) collects weather and climate data. As we noted in a recent Commerce Department report on the Value of Government Data, the return to society on investment in government meteorological data is large.

For example, one survey found that the overwhelming majority of people said they used weather forecasts and did so an average of 3.8 times per day. That equates to 301 billion forecasts consumed per year!

The study’s authors note that, other than current news events, there is probably no other type of information obtained on such a routine basis from such a variety of sources. Certainly, the researchers say, no other scientific information is accessed so frequently. And while the information is being delivered from an array of sources, most of it directly or indirectly originates from NOAA’s National Weather Service (NWS). Americans check to learn what is happening in the weather, and we plan our days – and lives – based on this data.

The researchers found a median valuation of weather forecasts per household of $286 per year, which suggests that the aggregate annual valuation of weather forecasts was about $31.5 billion. The sum of all federal spending on meteorological operations and research was $3.4 billion in the same year, and the private sector spent an additional $1.7 billion on weather forecasting, for a total of private and public spending of about $5.1 billion. In other words, the valuation people placed on the weather forecasts they consumed was 6.2 times as high as the total expenditure on producing forecasts. NOAA data is re-packaged and analyzed to produce 15 million weather products, such as air quality alerts, the three, five and ten day extended weather forecast, earthquake reports, and tornado and flash flood warnings. Many end users do not realize that NOAA provides the data they see and hear every day on The Weather Channel, AccuWeather, the radio and in the morning paper.