PublishedDecember 16, 2011

Startup Act Could Unleash the Power of Entrepreneurship

Last week, Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) introduced S. 1965 (the Startup Act). CCIA applauds the bill as a farsighted proposal to unleash the power of U.S. entrepreneurs and harness it for the creation of jobs.

  • The bill focuses on five principles:
  • Reducing regulatory burdens;
  • Attracting business investment;
  • Accelerating the commercialization of university research;
  • Attracting and retaining entrepreneurial talent;
  • Encouraging pro-growth state and local policies.

In particular, CCIA commends Sen. Moran and Sen. Warner for their focus on the fourth principle (attracting and retaining entrepreneurial talent) and for including provisions on conditional visas for advanced STEM degree holders and immigrant entrepreneurs. The bill would create a new visa for 50,000 foreign students who graduate from U.S. universities with a Master’s or Ph.D. in science, technology, engineering or math (STEM). The visas would be conditional on their remaining actively engaged in a STEM field for five consecutive years, after which they would become permanent legal residents. The bill would also create 75,000 visas for immigrant entrepreneurs who register at least one new business entity employing at least two full time non-family members, and invest or raise at least $100,000 within a year of the visa being issued. The entrepreneur could then operate the business for three years during which it would have to employ at least five full-time non-family members. The entrepreneur could then apply for removal of the conditional status.

CCIA has long advocated for the need to promote entrepreneurship and innovation. Ideas and research are the raw materials with which the technology industry is built, and we cannot afford to squander resources such as the foreign students and entrepreneurs who choose to legally come to the U.S. to put their talents to use here. The visas in this bill would give them the opportunity to prove their value and to make long-term contributions to the U.S. economy – contributions they would otherwise be making in other countries in competition with the U.S. The Startup Act is an important step in enabling U.S. companies and the U.S. economy to actively engage in the global competition for talent.

By facilitating entrepreneurship and innovation (two of the things Americans do best), the bill would help enable the U.S. economy to build on its strengths, and catapult it, not only out of its current slump, but also up to new heights.

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