Mark Drapeau (Washington, DC) —
Creating jobs, improving the economy through innovation, and increasing America’s global competitiveness are incredibly important right now, and a lot of the improvement in these areas will come from small “startup” businesses in major metro areas around the country. In that vein, the Startup America partnership welcomed people to a panel discussion and film screening at the Microsoft Innovation and Policy Center recently.
The event, co-sponsored by Startup DC, Microsoft, and OPower, featured entrepreneur Steve Case as a keynote speaker. Well known to DC-area residents as a former CEO of AOL (originally headquartered in Virginia), he’s since broadened his interests to The Case Foundation, Revolution Health, and more. He is also a member of the current administration’s President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.
Steve spent a few minutes talking to the three primary groups of people who were invited to be in the audience at this private event: Those representing large corporations, those from startups, and those in the government and policy community. The big question is, how can these three groups help each other, both in the DC area and across the U.S.? Having spent some one-on-one time with Steve, I can report that his passion for the startup community and the goals of Startup America is strong.
One of the most interesting things I learned was that while new startups certainly create new jobs and generate passion and innovation, according to Case, the biggest period of job creation for companies is immediately after they have a public IPO. So there is a huge question of how established corporations and the government community can create an environment in which more startups can innovate and grow to the point at which they can go public, take in new investment, and thus hire lots of people.
Case’s keynote remarks were followed a terrific panel representative of different business verticals related to the DC region, including software, energy, and biotechnology. David Rapp, the Ideas Editor for Bloomberg Government moderated the panelists, who were: Marci Harris, CEO of POPVOX (featured in the film), Alex Laskey, President of energy tech company OPower (a co-sponsor of the event), Ari Patrinos, Senior Vice President of Synthetic Genomics (one of famous genomicist Craig Venter’s companies), Dan’l Lewin, Corporate Vice President of Emerging Business at Microsoft, and Scott Case, CEO of the Startup America Partnership.
After the panel, about 50 guests were able to snack on soda and candy and food from famous local eatery Ben’s Chili Bowl and get a sneak preview of the documentary Ctrl+Alt+Compete (you can see a trailer here), and hear a few words from Daryll McDade, the Microsoftie who executive produced the film. Following the private viewing last night, tonight is the public east coast premiere of Ctrl+Alt+Compete, to be shown at the Startup DC event Entreprelooza!, held downtown in the heart of Washington, DC.
Dr. Mark Drapeau is part of the Microsoft Office of Civic Innovation in Washington, DC.
You can see more photos from this Microsoft Innovation and Policy Center event here.