OFA_logo-vertical-digital.jpgIn last week’s State of the Union Address, United States President Barack Obama laid out his plan for America’s future. In it, he declared, “we will do big things.” Among them, a plan for American innovation in which creativity, imagination and free enterprise come together to create new industries and millions of new jobs.

The Rebirth of the American Startup

Today, the administration launched the first of many initiatives focused on innovation. Startup America, as it’s called, is a national campaign to help America achieve goals of promoting high-growth entrepreneurship, with initiatives to help encourage private-sector investment in job-creating startups, accelerate research, and address barriers to success for entrepreneurs and small businesses.

The event, at which CMSWire had the privilege of attending at the White House today, featured a bevy of Senior Administration Officials and top American entrepreneurs, including: Gary Locke, Secretary of the Department of Commerce; Karen Mills, Administrator of the Small Business Administration; Gene Sperling, Director of the National Economic Council; Austan Goolsbee, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers; and top entrepreneurs and small business owners from across the country.

Senior administrators outlined on-going efforts and policy proposals aimed at empowering students, small business owners and inventors to change the world with their ideas.

Secretary Locke addressed the need for accelerated patent examinations, while Austan Goolsbee spoke about startups from the perspective of economists, nothing that many of the Fortune 500 companies started out their garages, therefore making it crucial that we foster an entrepreneurial culture.

Citing key policy investments, notably the zero capital gains tax, which the administration aims to make permanent in the proposed budget, Gene Sperling highlighted that challenging economic times often become a perfect breeding ground for small business startups and innovation. Secretary of Energy, Dr. Stephen Chu and Karen Mills acknowledged the need for providing both the tools and funding needed to build their business, sustain growth and create jobs.

Funding the Future of Small Business

Stepping outside the government liaisons associated with Startup America, Steve Case and Carl Schramm will guide this initiative. Case, best known for his founding role in AOL and Schramm, founder of the Kaufman Foundation, which devotes it resources to studying  entrepreneurship, outlined their commitment to small business innovation, citing Kaufman research that shows that net job creation is in firms less than 5 years old.

Once senior officials and program leaders completed their remarks we heard from entrepreneurs who spoke about their experiences navigating the small business landscape and the need for more official channels for investors and entrepreneurs to connect. The event also provided the opportunity for entrepreneurs present in the audience to share their small business stories and adventures.

From Jennifer Zeszut at Scoutlabs, a social media monitoring company in San Francisco to Kimberly Brown at Amethyst Tecnologies in Baltimore, to Brent Skoda, a 2010 global student entrepreneur award recipient, these leaders spoke about their passion and energy for innovation, as well as their commitment to helping to build their businesses while helping communities solve problems.

Many corporations also used Startup America to showcase their own investments in entrepreneurs and small businesses. IBM, for instance, announced that they will invest $150 million in 2011 to fund programs promoting entrepreneurs and new business opportunities. The program piggybacks on IBM’s existing Global Entrepreneur initiative, which began last year and helped launch more than 500 new businesses focused on green energy, health care and transportation.

Share Your Ideas & Innovations

Even though the event didn’t have a clear agenda of the road ahead, it was clear that they are committed to helping small businesses innovate. Ultimately, they want entrepreneurs, business owners to play an active role in the conversation. In fact, you can lend your ideas and insight via Twitter using #startupamerica or by following @startupamerica. We look forward to following their progress throughout the year.