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The Policy Dialogue on Entrepreneurship Informs and connects thought leaders looking to understand policies that help entrepreneurs start companies, create jobs and strengthen the economy. Sign up to receive our weekly update!
America’s heritage as a nation of immigrants is a source of tremendous economic strength, and current research confirms that immigrants who have been attracted to the U.S. for its pro-growth culture and excellent universities often stay and create valuable, fast-growing startup firms. High-skill immigrants in particular have two significant positive impacts on growth – first as critical engineering and science talent at U.S. companies and second as potential entrepreneurs of new U.S.-based companies. Despite the nearly universal bi-partisan support for high-skill immigration, the existing system of immigration into the U.S. has become a disaster. Visas and green cards are bureaucratic, the number of high-skill migrants to the U.S. is capped at an artificially low level, and security laws have made travel to the U.S. after 9/11 difficult. America now risks losing its attraction as a “brain magnet” in contrast to other nations that are reforming in order to compete for the critical resource known as human capital.
The crown jewel of the U.S. university system – the finest in the world – is the research university, where knowledge creation is the ultimate goal. Recognition of the centrality of knowledge creation to economic growth makes the efficiency of university innovation a top concern to policymakers, especially since the federal government funds two-thirds of the $48 billion of R&D performed in academic institutions. In too many universities, commercialization of research discoveries is not as rapid or as successful as it could be. The solution provided by Technology Transfer Offices (TTO) has been mixed, as too many have been directed to focus on maximizing revenue through patent licensing, leading to a sub-optimal level of technology diffusion. In the face of declining funding of basic science research, venture capital migration to downstream opportunities, and heightened competition from abroad, the optimal commercialization of U.S. university innovations could not be more important.
Developing the human capital of young Americans is vital to keep America’s entrepreneurial economy growing. Our future entrepreneurs and their workers need the twenty-first century skills and knowledge to create successful ventures and to spur innovation in the economy. Yet education in the U.S. is struggling to stay competitive and fails to provide access to a quality educational experience for all students. Developing tomorrow’s talented, capable innovators is a challenge that will require major, entrepreneurially-driven improvements in education from pre-school through graduate school.
Last week, a patent reform bill, the America Invents Act (H.R. 1249), passed the House of Representatives. On March 8, the Senate passed a similar patent bill (S. 23) by a broad margin. There is no doubt our patent system is broken with backlogs and litigation, but the bill’s net effect on innovative entrepreneurship is still unclear.
According to The Times CEO Summit here in London, Britain is mid-table in the world growth league, but committed to a new rigorous economic agenda. Now that the painful job of drastic budget cuts is underway and an often angry public has aired its grievances, Prime Minister David Cameron appears to be intently focused on new firm formation, the know-how economy, the next digital revolution and private input into “innovating down” health costs. He is determined to protect his AAA Standard & Poors evaluation and keep his economy from heading in the direction of others like Greece.
With more women than men in the U.S. earning PhDs in the biological sciences and estimates that around 15 percent of the U.S. GNP over the next two decades will be comprised of life science activities, it is no surprise that women's entrepreneurship has attracted so much attention recently in both the developed and developing countries. And in many other countries, women's entrepreneurship is even more important as a separate track for cultural reasons.
Given the momentum gained in 2010 to get policymakers thinking about entrepreneurship, it is reasonable to expect that America’s commitment to entrepreneurship will grow, especially once we see that commitment translated into concrete policy action. Of course, the hope is that those policy actions will be the right ones—inspiring confidence, building up decision-making around risk-taking and investing, spurring new enterprises built on innovative products and services, and along with it, job creation. With that sense of optimism, comes the vision of a global economy finally starting to shake free from a global crisis.
Colombia is the fifth-largest economy in Latin America in terms of GDP. The country boasts one of the best coffees in the world, rich natural resources, abundant gold and emerald production, and a relatively educated populace. And despite its international reputation for drug cartels and violence, the latest Doing Business 2011 ranking suggests things could be improving. Colombia is ranked number 39 among 183 countries in terms of the ease of doing business.
Last Friday, as I was meeting in my office in Washington, DC with Nazeh Ben Ammar, President of the Tunisian American Chamber of Commerce, Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, now the former president of Tunisia, was fleeing his country. As my guest awaited word on when the airport would re-open and Lufthansa would be permitted to return him home to his family in Tunis, we talked about his country, entrepreneurship and a new generation of youth in the Arab region.
February promises to be a busy month in Washington for entrepreneurship policy. Next Tuesday February 8th will see Kauffman’s annual State of Entrepreneurship Address delivered by Carl Schramm followed by Capitol Hill briefings and a host of interesting activity on job creation. Today, I post from an event at the White House where President Obama has just announced a “StartUP America Partnership,” a new initiative aimed at fostering successful innovative, high growth businesses in the U.S. It marks a commitment of the current administration to a national entrepreneurship-based strategy to stimulate economic growth and the creation of quality jobs.
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