U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Delivers Remarks at the First-Ever Open for Innovation Event


Monday, August 3, 2015
Today, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker spoke at the Commerce Department’s first-ever Open for Innovation event.
During her remarks, Secretary Pritzker highlighted the Department’s leadership as “America’s Innovation Agency” and its role in creating the conditions that allow entrepreneurs to thrive. Building on Deputy Secretary Bruce Andrews’ comments earlier in the day, the Secretary reiterated the different ways that Commerce spurs innovation, protects patents, inspires and mentors young entrepreneurs at home and abroad, and fosters strong, mutually beneficial relationships between established corporations and start-ups.
Following her remarks, the large businesses and startups in attendance had the opportunity to meet with each other to discuss ideas and potential partnerships.
The Commerce Department’s event was held one day before the White House’s Demo Day on Tuesday, August 4.  
Remarks as Prepared for Delivery
Thank you, Julie, for organizing this Open for Innovation event. And thank you to our entire Commerce team for your work to showcase our Department’s commitment to entrepreneurship each and every day. I also want to recognize Michael Goldstein and SwitchPitch, who are here to facilitate relationships between the established companies and the start-ups present today.
A week ago, I was in Nairobi, Kenya, with President Obama at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, where I met emerging innovators from around the world, including: a Liberian man who built one of his nation’s first recycling and composting centers; a Pakistani woman who is expanding access to quality health care; a Kenyan mother who provides affordable housing; and other entrepreneurs who seek to transform their societies and economies for the better.
What struck me most when I heard from those men and women who live and work halfway around the world is how similar they are to American innovators like you. Just as you do, they strive to turn fresh ideas into viable businesses. Just as you do, they want to spur economic growth and job creation in their communities. Just as you do, they need guidance: access to capital; access to talent; and the conditions necessary to take risks, find customers, flourish and grow.
At the Department of Commerce, our goal is to put these building blocks in place: to create the conditions that allow entrepreneurs to thrive. As “America’s Innovation Agency,” we support start-ups and firms in every phase of the business life-cycle.  Earlier today, you heard about some of our programs from Deputy Secretary Bruce Andrews: how we provide patents to protect American inventions; how we deploy American ambassadors for entrepreneurship to mentor and inspire young innovators at home and abroad; how we fund incubators and accelerators; how we offer businesses the tools to think global from day one.
These Commerce programs play a key role in spurring innovation, but our efforts alone are not sufficient. It is up to leaders in the private sector to build the tangible, fruitful partnerships that will turn new ideas into viable, thriving businesses.
Today, I want to talk to you about development new partnerships. Just a few moments ago, you heard from leading companies and organizations, such as Samsung which wants your help to make their mobile devices better suited for people with disabilities. You heard how BASF partners with start-ups to develop products that reduce energy consumption. You heard executives identify complex challenges and compelling possibilities facing their firms – and they asked for your assistance and fresh ideas.
These established corporations are incredibly innovative; but they recognize that they cannot solve every problem on their own. They need to partner with entrepreneurial thinkers like you.
Collaborating with start-ups is not a replacement for companies performing their own research and development; but it is another path for a big business to develop a new product and uncover creative solutions to complex challenges. For start-ups, collaboration is an opportunity as well – to demonstrate innovative concepts and to attract capital.
Put simply, what we are doing today is convening – a core competency of government to provide outstanding opportunities for everyone in this room, businesses large and small.
I am going to be walking around to see all of you in action: please do not be alarmed. I am simply here to observe. I am so excited to see your new concepts and the partnerships that emerge from this afternoon’s SwitchPitch. Thank you.

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