For decades, America’s economic success has been driven by an engine of innovation that periodically creates new industries and companies that change the world. The JOBS (Jumpstart Our Business Startups) Act was passed to make it easier for startups to get off the ground and access early-stage investments. Small businesses are the growth engine of the US economy, and by helping them thrive, the JOBS Act will undoubtedly create growth for the US economy for years to come.
As CEO of Crowdfunder, I was part of a small leadership group in Washington D.C. that helped shape the JOBS Act, and I’ve been part of helping it come to life through our fundraising platform. But there is also an earlier point in the evolution of a technology that America must address to help the JOBS Act reach its fullest potential.
From Google to Gatorade, innumerable products used worldwide once began as research projects in American universities. Though the U.S. is home to the world’s premier higher education system and its most entrepreneurial business culture, these two forces are disconnected by the Valley of Death — a narrow space in the life of an invention when it is too mature and too “applied” to be eligible for research funding… and too immature for venture capitalists or established companies to fund or in-license. So there it sits, with vast, untapped potential.
Bridging this Valley of Death may be the single best way to ensure that our innovation-driven economy continues to grow, and to secure America’s competitive advantage for generations to come. But before discussing the solutions to this problem, let’s turn to the conditions that created it and take stock of where we are today.