Entrepreneurship Plays a Key Role in Healthy Ecosystems
November is National Entrepreneurship Month, and we celebrate all American entrepreneurs as we reflect on how we support and enable entrepreneurship. As technology innovators and entrepreneurs face their unique challenges and opportunities, EDA and the Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (OIE) are committed to learning from the entrepreneurial experience and to continue to evolve our program design and delivery to accelerate technologies as entrepreneurs take them from the lab, to the marketplace, and into our lives.
The importance of entrepreneurs can’t be overlooked. Entrepreneurs identify and solve our most pressing problems, delivering products and services that increase our collective economic and national security, and our individual prosperity and well-being. They transform innovative ideas into new technologies and new markets and remain a steady presence in the daily rhythms of our communities’.
Ultimately, they catalyze growth, create jobs, and increase U.S. competitiveness.
As we face ever more complex challenges—climate change, pandemics, growing inequality, deteriorating trust—entrepreneurs rise to meet them, inventing, deploying, and delivering innovative new technologies.
Building and maintaining infrastructure and ensuring everyone has access to it will unlock entrepreneurial potential across the country. Entrepreneurs flourish in healthy ecosystems. Whether they are developing deep, tough technologies like reliable, clean energy generation or solving immediate, local problems like consistent, reliable medicine delivery, entrepreneurs rely on robust infrastructure.
Broadband undergirds our information-rich economy. Reliable supply chains via roads, rail, ports, airports, and innovative last-mile transportation enable product creation and delivery. Unique, cutting-edge testing and demonstration facilities at our national laboratories facilitate the transition of breakthrough technologies into markets and communities. The right kinds of capital available at the right times ensures that businesses have resources that match their growth needs. And human infrastructure, like childcare, healthcare, and workforce development systems, makes entrepreneurship more diverse, equitable, and inclusive.
Access to this infrastructure requires connectedness among the people and organizations in those ecosystems. The maxim that “entrepreneurship is a team sport” does not end with the private sector, and EDA’s flexible public funding supports the entire continuum: physical infrastructure, equipment, capital formation and access, entrepreneur support, venture development. OIE’s programs catalyze regional coalitions to build strong networks of technology entrepreneurs, investors, and workers — and to deliver direct support to those networks and their members.
In October, we announced the newest cohort of Build to Scale recipients — 51 grants totaling $47 million in federal investment and $48 million in matching funds. That’s nearly $100 million deployed to grow diverse technology entrepreneurship ecosystems—focused on advanced manufacturing, AgTech, bioscience, clean energy, and more—in diverse regions across the United States. With this round of grants, OIE has invested in more than 375 projects across every state and two territories. These projects do more than deliver services to innovators and entrepreneurs. They bring together the people, organizations, and resources that enable innovation and entrepreneurship to proceed rapidly and at scale by narrowing in on regions and technologies while widening the funnel to include and empower more people to participate and lead in technology-driven economies.