Commentary

Thoughts on Kauffman Foundation’s Startup Act


Kauffman Foundation logoLast week, the Kauffman Foundation (our foundation for entrepreneurship) unveiled its Startup Act, a proposal to stimulate entrepreneurship. The Act is designed to spur job growth and make the US more globally competitive. I encourage everyone interested in US entrepreneurship to read the Act. The proposal is noteworthy and worth reading for the following points:

  • Immigration – the Act proposes to make it easier for foreign-born entrepreneurs to start new ventures in the US. This blog will be featuring some of the exciting up-and-coming immigrant entrepreneurs, who, let’s face it, represent some of the top talent in the world.
  • Early-stage financing – the Act proposes that early-stage investments in startups and small businesses be exempt from capital gains taxes if they are held for five years (which is the way it is now but is set to expire in 2012). In my view, we need to do anything that we can to stimulate and promote early-stage investment.
  • Patents – The Act proposes to fix the patent office by reducing the more than one million backlog of patent applications. Don’t get me started. The patent office needs an overhaul and Obama knows it.
  • University technology transfer – the Act proposes to allow university researchers direct access to their innovations rather than having to proceed through technology transfer (which is how it is done now, stemming from the Bayh-Dole Act). This is an interesting perspective. Kauffman is known to be against university tech transfer offices. The question they pose in general is whether these offices help or hinder startup creation and growth? I’d better not comment on that given my positions within Carnegie Mellon University as adjunct professor of entrepreneurship, embedded entrepreneur of Project Olympus, and innovation advisor of the Institute for Social Innovation.
  • Reduce regulations – The Act proposes to reduce or eliminate federal regulations that impede startup establishment and growth. Ok, less red tape is ALWAYS better!
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