Five Ways the Department of Commerce Exhibits Leadership in Innovation


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The Department is comprised of 12 bureaus that work together to drive progress in four business facing key goal areas
The Department is comprised of 12 bureaus that work together to drive progress in four business facing key goal areas
Through its 12 bureaus, the Department of Commerce creates the conditions for economic growth and opportunity on both a domestic and global scale. As the voice of business in the President’s Cabinet, Secretary Pritzker has spearheaded the Department of Commerce’s “Open for Business Agenda” Strategic Plan and focused on five strategic goals: trade and investment, innovation, environment, data and operational excellence. Secretary Pritzker’s two-year anniversary is this Friday, June 26, and each day this week we are highlighting one of our strategic pillars by recognizing recent achievements.
The Innovation pillar of the Strategic Plan calls for fostering a more innovative U.S. economy – one that is better at inventing, improving and commercializing products and services. The Department of Commerce is America’s Innovation Agency, whether it is through the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) protecting your intellectual property, the National Institute of Standards & Technology (NIST) creating technology standards or the Economic Development Administration (EDA) investing in innovation ecosystems we are all working together to set the conditions for economic growth. Strengthening American innovation is crucial for sustained economic competitiveness, productivity and growth, and is at the core of the Department’s mission. These efforts will support communities nationwide by creating stable jobs, enhanced technology, and resurgent regional economies.
Here are five important accomplishments in Innovation since Secretary Pritzker was confirmed: 
1.     Support for American manufacturing has increased with the introduction of new initiatives focused on rebuilding and revitalizing this critical sector. First, Commerce led the Administration’s efforts on Capitol Hill last December around passing the Revitalize American Manufacturing Innovation (RAMI) Act. The RAMI Act authorizes the establishment of a network of up to 15 regional institutes across the country, each focused on a unique technology, material or process relevant to advanced manufacturing. The RAMI Act also encourages partnerships and regional collaborations between communities, the private sector, academia, NGOs, and needed supply chains in order to bring ideas from the lab to market more quickly. The U.S. Department of Commerce also played a critical leadership role in launching the Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership (IMCP), a smart, innovative program model for how the Federal Government supports local economic development. Twelve manufacturing communities have already been designated across the country, as part of the IMCP program and more communities will have an opportunity to compete for a special designation that will elevate them in consideration for $1.3 billion in federal monies and assistance from 10 federal departments and agencies under the 2015 grant competition. Finally, the success of Manufacturing Day (MFG Day) in addressing common misperceptions about manufacturing by giving manufacturers an opportunity to open their doors and show, in a coordinated effort, what manufacturing is — and what it isn’t, has helped raise awareness about manufacturing and elevate its public image. Manufacturing Day events have grown exponentially in the past four years, from 300 events and 7,000 participants in 2012 to over 1600 events, 400,000 participants, and 6 million reached through social media just last year.
2.       In 2014, NIST released the first version of the Framework for Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity. The Framework, created through collaboration between industry and government, consists of standards, guidelines, and practices to promote the protection of critical infrastructure. The prioritized, flexible, repeatable, and cost-effective approach of the Framework helps owners and operators of critical infrastructure to manage cybersecurity-related risk. NIST has continued to develop and disseminate information and training materials that advance the use of the Framework, including sharing case studies, implementation guides, and other resources developed by industry and government.
3.       The Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship (PAGE) program is a first-of-its-kind collaboration between celebrated American entrepreneurs, the White House, the Department of Commerce, and our Department of State, U.S. Agency for International Development and Small Business Administration partners. In the initiative’s first year, PAGE deployed some of America’s most successful entrepreneurs around the U.S. and abroad, especially in regions with underperforming or up-and-coming startup communities. As part of the PAGE effort, domestically, Steve Case launched the “Rise of the Rest” – a bus tour that championed and invested $1 million in startups in nine cities across the country. Tory Burch’s Elizabeth Street Capital initiative partnered with Bank of America to increase mentorship opportunities and loans to female entrepreneurs.  Hamdi Ulukaya announced the launch of a food incubator in Brooklyn. And on the global stage, Nina Vaca traveled with Secretary Pritzker to Accra, Ghana for two days of mentorship and workshops with entrepreneurs and Alexa von Tobel, Ulukaya and Daphne Koller travelled to the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Marrakesh, Morocco to highlight their signature initiatives. After a successful first year, the PAGE program was expanded to include 9 new members, some of whom will travel next month with Secretary Pritzker to the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Nairobi, Kenya.
4.       Under Secretary Pritzker’s leadership, Commerce has reformed the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship (NACIE). In their first year, NACIE members drafted a set of robust recommendations for how the Department of Commerce and Administration can expand their work to support regional innovation and entrepreneurship. These recommendations include standardizing labor market data, creating and implementing a Community Playbook for regional innovation, and exploration of ways to incentivize companies to conduct more collaborative R&D in the U.S.
5.       EDA has also played a critical role in innovation. The Regional Innovation Strategy (RIS) program, which is being run by EDA is a new initiative designed to advance innovation and capacity-building activities in regions across the country through three different types of grants. With this backing, segmented into the i6 Challenge, Cluster Grants for Seed  Capital Funds, and Science/Research Parks, each regional economy has the opportunity to grow and build its innovation capacity and provide the tools and resources that inventors, entrepreneurs, research universities, and other stakeholders need to commercialize their discoveries.  Earlier this year, Secretary Pritzker announced the first 26 recipients of the RIS program grants.  
The progress that the U.S. Department of Commerce has made in innovation reflects both the dedication of Secretary Pritzker as well as the commitment of our 47,000 Commerce employees, to keeping America "Open for Business."

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Last updated: 2015-06-26 14:25

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