U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Delivers Remarks at Colorado’s National Startup Day


Monday, August 8, 2016

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker joined Representative Jared Polis’s (D-CO 2nd District) in Boulder, Colorado on Thursday to recognize the contributions of America’s small and innovative firms in honor of Startup Across America Day. Speaking before an audience of entrepreneurs, Secretary Pritzker affirmed the Department of Commerce’s commitment to providing innovative small businesses like those in Boulder with the tools to compete in the global economy.

Secretary Pritzker highlighted the wide array of services that the Department of Commerce provides to support entrepreneurs throughout every phase of the business life-cycle. For example, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office issues patents that protect intellectual property and the U.S. Census Bureau provides data for business owners to make better-informed decisions about where to open a business. In closing, Secretary Pritzker commended the startups for continuing the American spirit of entrepreneurship.

Remarks As Prepared for Delivery

Thank you for that kind introduction and for your friendship, Congressman Polis.

It is great to be here today in Boulder for Startup Day Across America. I want to thank Black Lab Sports for hosting this event. Today’s event reminds us that Boulder is a hotbed for innovation. In fact, the Kaufman Foundation found that in 2010, Boulder had six times more technology startups per capita than the national average. That is twice as many as Silicon Valley.

As someone who spent 27 years building businesses in the private sector and founded five companies from scratch, I have great respect for what it takes to conceive of and create a startup.

You are my heroes. The businesses you build, the innovations you unleash, and the jobs you create drive our nation’s economy. Over the past three decades, newly-formed companies have created an average of 1.5 million jobs a year. And today they create two out of every three new jobs across America. Simply put: when our entrepreneurs succeed, our entire economy grows.

Our mission at the Department of Commerce is to give entrepreneurs the tools and resources needed to thrive and compete in today’s global economy. No federal agency is more singularly equipped for this work than Commerce. Each day, our 12 bureaus support entrepreneurs throughout every phase of the business-life-cycle: we issue patents that protect your intellectual property, so that you can bring your innovations to market; we protect a free, open, and secure Internet, so that you can compete in today’s digital economy; and we break down trade barriers that hurt your businesses overseas, so that you can export your products and services around the world.

Throughout my tenure as Commerce Secretary, my team and I have launched new initiatives to help entrepreneurs succeed. Take, for instance, our work on open data. As “America’s Data Agency,” no other department can rival the reach, depth, and breadth of our data. From the Patent Office to the Census Bureau, every day we produce enough information to fill the Library of Congress – twice. We are constantly coming up with new applications for our data.

Just a few weeks ago, I met with entrepreneurs and data scientists at the White House to learn how they are using Commerce data to quote-unquote “hack the pay gap.” From virtual reality salary negotiation tools to interactive pay gap calculators, several of these teams hope to turn their projects into viable startups that help businesses ensure they provide equal pay for equal work. 

We also provide funding to promote entrepreneurship and innovation throughout our economy.

Take, for example, our Small Business Innovation Research Program. Run by our National Institute of Standards and Technology, or NIST, this initiative awards grants to businesses that are developing solutions for major industry challenges.

In Park City Utah, a small firm called 3D-SIM is creating technology that helps manufacturers reduce how much material they use in 3D printers, improving efficiency and saving money.

In Stillwater, Oklahoma, a company called XploSafe is developing a tool for measuring greenhouse gas emissions in air conditioning and refrigeration processes - which could help companies bring more energy efficient appliances to market.

Entrepreneurship is not only good for the country; it is also good for the world. As Commerce Secretary, I am proud to chair the President’s Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship initiative - or PAGE.  Our ambassadors are top American entrepreneurs who have committed to mentoring, inspiring, and helping the next generation to build the startups of the future. We know that when people can start their own businesses and chart their own paths, families are more secure, economies are more prosperous, and regions are more stable. That is why our PAGE ambassadors are advocating for entrepreneurship on the global stage.

For example, Daphne Koller, the co-founder of Coursera, has developed a new, free curriculum to teach entrepreneurs like you how to succeed in business. And Julie Hanna, Executive Board Chair of the crowdfunding platform Kiva, has issued $107 million in loans to 300,000 entrepreneurs in 77 countries. These incredible entrepreneurs have more in common with you than you may think. They all started off small, but they always dreamed big.

Since the founding of our nation, entrepreneurs have driven the innovation that made our economy the envy of the world. Centuries later, America’s spirit of entrepreneurship endures thanks to business leaders and innovators like you. It is my hope that you take advantage of the resources the Commerce Department makes available to entrepreneurs.

From the first “light bulb” moment that spurs you to become an entrepreneur to the moment your startup wins its first global customer, we want to be your partner every step of the way. By supporting our entrepreneurs, together, we can keep America on the global edge of economic competitiveness. Thank you.

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