Yesterday, the Obama Administration announce a new entrepreneurship initiative called Startup America. According to the White House fact sheet, the initiative includes, among other programs:
• Elimination of capital gains tax on certain small business investments
• Increased SBA lending and expansion of other programs to provide access to financing.
• Expanded mentorship, business incubator, and technology commercialization programs.
• A fast-track option for patent examinations for entrepreneurs.
• Expanded programs in the private sector on entrepreneurial education, mentoring and technology commercialization.
All of these programs are part of the President's new jobs and competitiveness initiative - and I applaud them.
But let me add two others to the list.
1) As I've argued for before, SBA needs to change its programs to utilize intangible assets.
• Develop SBA underwriting standards for IP. SBA should work with commercial lenders to develop standards for the use of intangible assets as collateral, similar to existing SBA underwriting standards. Allowing IP to be used as collateral will increase the amount of funds a company, such as one in the high-tech sector, would qualify for.
• Create an IP-backed loan fund. Other nations have developed special programs to encourage IP-based finance. The U.S. should set up similar programs on a pilot basis, ideally run by the SBA to take advantage of its lending expertise. Technical support could be provided by the SBA's Office of Technology, which already coordinates the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. The SBA technology office also works with the U.S. Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) on its Technology Innovation Program and has a hand in other federal science- and technology-related initiatives. Such a direct lending program would be a step beyond SBA's current loan guarantee programs--direct lending is needed to jumpstart the process. Once the process of utilizing IP as collateral is fully established, the program could be converted to a loan guarantee structure.
2) We need to expand technical assistance to include identifying and managing intangible assets. Entrepreneurs and small business especially need help in utilizing their intangible assets. Other nations already have such programs in place, previous postings. One possibility is to expand the mission of the Manufacturing Extension Partnerships. Better yet would be to create our own equivalent of the Scottish Intellectual Assets Centre and embed the tools and activities of such a Centre in the operations of all our small business and entrepreneurship programs.
So while I support the StartUp America initiative, I think it can do more to support entrepreneurship in the I-Cubed Economy.