Technology: America's Largest Startup

Charlene OHanlon
The Obama administration recognizes the impact of small businesses on our economy, which is why it has developed a number of new initiatives to help spur small-business development as a way to pull the United States out of its economic morass. Its latest endeavor - Startup America - is a way to promote entrepreneurship and high potential startups, and has some technological big guns backing up the effort.

IBM, HP, Intel-even Facebook - are all investing serious dollars to promote the program, which focuses on increasing the number of new high-growth firms that are creating economic growth, innovation and jobs. Intel has pledged $200 million, which will go to startups and companies working on emerging technologies such as cloud computing, mobile video and gaming. IBM, meanwhile, will contribute $150 million to be used to educate and mentor businesses and software developers and promote software-related businesses. HP, which did not specify how much it was investing in the program, plans to focus on providing resources for startups and small businesses in the pharmaceutical, clean technology, printing technology, mobile applications and cloud services spaces.

It is perhaps the largest, privately funded effort at jobs creation to date (historians no doubt will ping me on that comment), and the fact that technology companies are playing such a critical role is no surprise. Technology is the main driver of our success-behind every market leader is a technology helping drive its success, from the local, environmentally-friendly dry cleaners, to the regional dairies, to the international shipping services-none would be able to do what they do best without the help of technology.

Of course, I could look at this initiative from a purely altruistic point of view-these vendors want to help get our country back on track and are willing to pony up the resources to make that happen-but of course, I'm a realist. I have yet to meet a company that doesn't work the angles, look at a situation such as this and immediately ask, 'What's in it for us?' These companies no doubt will be following the efforts of their funded companies and look for complementary-and even conflicting-technologies that they can add to their collective bag of tricks.

But that's okay, that's called progress and that's what eventually makes those garage tinkerers billionaires. I have high hopes for Startup America, especially since its founding partners, The Kauffman Foundation and The Case Foundation, have done much to promote not only innovation but also the human condition. To have those two organizations lead this effort is a signal that the vendors backing Startup America are investing to both reap the technological fruits and make a difference in the lives of entrepreneurs. After all, solid funding is often as important as blood, sweat and tears in making a dream a reality.  

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Feb 1, 2011 4:02 PM Peter Durkson Peter Durkson  says:
Hi Charlene, Great article! The global age wave, soaring medical costs, and mobile health technologies are converging rapidly and creating many exciting new business opportunities for social entrepreneurs! Who can we contact at HP about our vision i.e. helping people manage their health and wellness issues with mobile applications we intend to design, develop, and distribute globally? ( see and Thank you, Peter Durkson Reply
Feb 1, 2011 9:02 PM AndrewW AndrewW  says:
StartUpAmerica is just more useless public relations and cheerleading. Of course we should encourage start-ups, but it is much more important to seek breakthroughs. Energy is a good example - DOE and private industry have spent $400 billion in the last 20 years on R+D and financing for green technologies and yet we still haven't found "clean, affordable electricity." That's the goal. During the last two years DOE (with Stimulus funds) has spent more than $30 billion on "development deals," primarily for over-priced and under-performing wind and solar schemes. Most of these projects received 100% "loan guarantees" and those loans can never be repaid. They are grants. America (and the world) should get serious about finding a breakthrough by offering a $1 billion prize for a solution. DOE should hold an Energy Summit and review ALL potential solutions. We would either find a breakthrough or understand exactly where we are. It is delusional to continue to pretend that wind and solar can meet our energy needs - they never will. America has made progress because of competition and reward and now is a good time to remember that, Offer a PRIZE and let's get busy seeking a real, sustainable solution. Reply

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