Bipartisan Startup Act would accelerate the commercialization of university research that can lead to new ventures, review and improve the regulatory process, and modernize a critical Economic Development Administration program to promote innovation and spur economic growth 

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Mark Warner (D-VA), and Roy Blunt (R-MO) have introduced bipartisan legislation to encourage job creation and growth of new businesses. The bipartisan Startup Act would accelerate the commercialization of university research that can lead to new ventures, review and improve the regulatory processes, and modernize a critical Economic Development Administration (EDA) program to promote innovation and spur economic growth. The legislation also creates both Entrepreneur and STEM visas for highly-educated individuals so they can remain in the United States legally to promote new ideas, fuel economic growth, and create good-paying American jobs.

“Startups and small businesses are engines of job creation and economic growth,” said Klobuchar. “Our bipartisan bill would make it easier for people to get their ideas off the ground, encourage innovation, and strengthen our workforce to keep the U.S. competitive in the 21st century economy.”

The Startup Act would:

  • Use existing federal research and development funding to support university initiatives designed to bring cutting-edge research to the marketplace quickly where it can propel economic growth;
  • Require all government agencies to conduct a cost-benefit analysis of all proposed “significant rules” with an economic impact of $100 million or more. This new requirement will help determine the efficacy of regulations and their potential impact on the formation and growth of new businesses;
  • Direct the U.S. Department of Commerce to assess state and local policies that aid in the development of new businesses. Through the publication of reports on new business formation and the entrepreneurial environment, lawmakers will be better equipped to encourage entrepreneurship with the most successful policies;
  • Accelerate commercialization of taxpayer-funded research to bolster regional commercialization strategies in converting research into new products and services; and
  • Expand and refine the EDA’s Regional Innovation (RI) program, including restoration to its originally authorized $100 million level under the. The proposed funding increase would Stevenson-Wydler Technology Innovation Act of 1980support more innovation systems throughout the country and make awards to pilot a wider variety of outcome-based approaches toward addressing regional innovation needs;
  • Establish a limited entrepreneurial visa for 75,000 legal immigrants, so they can remain in the United States, launch businesses, and create jobs;
  • Create a new limited STEM visa so 50,000 U.S.-educated foreign students, who graduate with a master’s or Ph.D. in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics, can receive a green card and stay in this country where their talent and ideas can fuel growth and create American jobs;
  • Eliminate the per-country caps for employment-based immigrant visas, which hinder U.S. employers from recruiting the top-tier talent they need to grow.

The provisions in the Startup Act have been endorsed by Information Technology Industry Council, National Venture Capital Association, Computer and Communications Industry Association, Center for American Entrepreneurship, Sprint, SSTI, Engine, Consumer Technology Association, and Internet Association.

As a member of the Senate Commerce Committee, Klobuchar has worked on policies that encourage entrepreneurship and promote business growth at the local level. In 2010, she helped pass the Small Business Jobs Act, which extended a number of important loan programs at the SBA.

Klobuchar, one of the founding co-chairs of the Diversifying Technology Caucus and co-chair of the Women’s High Tech Coalition, has been a leader in the effort to develop a strong science and engineering workforce ready for the jobs of tomorrow. Her bipartisan bills to encourage, recruit, and support women in STEM fields, the Inspiring the Next Space Pioneers, Innovators, and Explorers (INSPIRE) Women Act and the Promoting Women in Entrepreneurship Act, were signed into law by the President in January. Klobuchar’s provisions to require the Director of the NSF to consider recommendations from organizations representing underrepresented groups for the STEM Education Advisory Panel and encourage research to better understand factors relevant to the retention of STEM teachers from underrepresented groups, including women and minorities, were also signed into law as part of the reauthorization of the America Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education, and Science (COMPETES) Act. In 2015, Klobuchar’s bipartisan provisions allowing school districts to award funding to create a STEM-focused specialty school or enhance an existing STEM program within a school were signed into law as part of the Every Student Succeeds Act.