Beyond the Pitch

My Three Wishes for the New Administration

Central Ohio is making great progress when it comes to creating new innovative businesses that will scale, generating jobs and wealth. As we’ve demonstrated here, through the private corporations, communities, and the Ohio Third Frontier Program, there are proven ways that public/private partnership, working with the government, can be a catalyst for growth in the economy. That’s true at the federal level, too.

If we were granted three wishes, our asks would be:

1. An increased focus on and commitment to research and development spending to increase innovation in the United States.

Our region thrives on innovations that in many cases have been advanced through accessing federal research funding through the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and STTR and SBIR programs with agencies such as the Departments of Defense or Energy.

Research institutions (and Rev1 innovation partners) such as Nationwide Children’s, Ohio Health Research and Innovation Institute, and The Ohio State University put those types of funds to good work creating technologies that better mankind, provide spinout opportunities from job and wealth creation in Ohio, and keep the US innovative and competitive.

About half of Rev1’s engagements come from spinouts; We support companies like Simple-Fill, 3Bar, and ProteoSense from market validation on with dedicated resources, including considerable senior leadership and expertise and investment funds.

Increasing R&D spending, with an emphasis on commercialization, is one way to influence the focus on marketable solutions derived from promising technologies that create high growth businesses.

2. Reforming the small business administration and unlocking resources that were once used to further the venture capital industry.

A new initiative along the lines of the former State Small Business Capital Incentives (SSBCI)—which had a proven impact but no longer exists—to  provide early stage capital and services that attract matching capital from angels, VCs, and private corporations would create more companies and jobs based on high growth innovation in the United States. Ohio’s SSBCI allocation was $55MM, which leveraged $116MM in loans and investments.

Reinstituting the Small Business Investment Company Equity program would help create new venture capital funds in the U.S. that in turn invest in new businesses.

If Congress were to pursue this type of program, there are best practices to follow, including those here in Ohio, which include stringent performance metrics to ensure positive return on investment.

3. Make STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education at all levels a priority.

It’s difficult to have innovation without scientists and innovators. Enough said

Tying these points together, some of the biggest venture capital successes in the U.S. have been with technical leaders building companies that accessed federal research funding to advanced technical innovations—some notable examples: Qualcomm – Communications chips; Symantec – security software; Genzyme – biotherapeutics; Affymatix – biology on a chip; Amgen – Biotech; Biogen – Biotech; A123 – Lithium Ion Batteries; iRobot – Roomba; JDS Uniphase – fiber-optic systems.

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