Barack Obama has won the election! What does this mean to the future of innovation and the technology industry? Based on Obama’s record and statements released during the campaign, here’s what technologists can look forward to:
- Strong support for high-skilled immigration reform: The Startup 2.0 Act is most likely the first opportunity for reform, and probably won’t happen until next year. Specifically, the Startup 2.0 Act would increase work visa availability for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) graduates from American universities. Second, it would create an entrepreneurship visa for foreign workers who create jobs in the U.S. (right now, foreign workers have to be sponsored by another company, which makes it difficult to be a founder). Finally, it eliminates country-specific caps on visas. Pressure from Democrats to include immigration reforms for Mexico and other low-represented nations will be a challenge, however.
- Open Government Reform: Obama’s political appointees, Chief Technology Officer Todd Park, and Chief Information Officer, Steven VanRoekel, will continue to open the vaults of government data for use by the private sector (much like Reagan did for navigation consumer tech, when he released the Global Positioning System data)
- Continued support for government investment in clean technology, and the technology industry, through the Small Business Administration, which gives millions to investors for early stage companies and those outside the typical startup zones (i.e. California and New York).
- Strong support for STEM Education. Obama will continue to support the federal government as having an important role in preparing the next generation innovators.
The full statement of Obama’s plan can be read below, pasted form the NYTech Meetup website
Both letters are pasted below from the NYTechMeetup website:
Dear Members of NY Tech Meetup:
Thank you for carrying forward the entrepreneurial spirit that makes
us a nation of doers, dreamers and risk takers. You understand that
innovation and job creation occur when we make smart investments in
infrastructure and technology and build an environment that encourages
entrepreneurs to change the way we live and work.
Together we’ve used that bedrock American belief to recover and
rebuild from the worst economic crisis in a generation. Today,
entrepreneurship is at record levels and the number of business
startups is up almost 10 percent since my first year in office. And
this past Friday, we learned the unemployment rate has fallen to its
lowest level since I took office. As inventors, makers and thinkers
you’ve helped get us here, believing that if anyone has a solid plan
and is willing to work hard and play by the rules, we can turn any
idea into something.
I believe it, too. That’s why I’ve been laying the foundation for an
economy built to last through investments in infrastructure and
technology. We’re expanding broadband networks to connect businesses
large and small with markets around the World. The health care law
invests in our health IT infrastructure, improving the delivery and
management of care. Wall Street reform put a consumer protection cop
on the beat, using technology to help consumers understand their
rights when buying a home or using a credit card.
Across your government, we’ve used technology to bridge the offline
and online divide to empower citizens and build a more participatory
democracy. On my first day in office I created the position of U.S.
Chief Technology Officer so we can pursue new open data initiatives to
unleash unprecedented volumes of government data related to energy,
education, international development, public safety and other areas.
We’re unlocking our resources to fuel new products, companies and
industries and connect the next generation of entrepreneurs to freely
available government data, while rigorously protecting and respecting
privacy rights. And we recently announced the first class of
“Presidential Innovation Fellows,” talented private sector innovators
who will spend six months in Washington partnering up with the
govemment’s top innovators to meet straightforward goals: improve the
lives of the American people, save taxpayer dollars and fuel job
creation across the country.
This past April, I also signed a law to help high-growth entrepreneurs
and small businesses harness “crowdfunding” to raise capital
consistent with investor protections and make it easier for young,
high- growth firms to go public. I also launched the Startup America
Partnership to improve the environment for high-growth
entrepreneurship across the country. I encourage you to join, as we’re
focusing on unlocking access to capital to fuel startup growth,
connecting mentors and education to entrepreneurs, accelerating
innovation from “lab to market” for breakthrough technologies and
unleashing market opportunities in industries like health care, clean
energy and education.
I signed patent reform into law to help American entrepreneurs bring
inventions to market sooner, leading to new businesses, jobs and
industries. But that also depends on a regulatory system that supports
our homegrown innovations. That’s why I’ll continue to stand by you to
protect the openness of the Intemet while still enforcing intellectual
But investments in human capital remain our strongest economic asset.
We have a start-up visa program that’s allowing foreign entrepreneurs
to establish businesses in America and create American jobs. And I
have set concrete goals to create an economy built to last, including
recruiting 100,000 math and science teachers over the next 10 years
and training 2 million workers at connnunity colleges for jobs in
fields like health care, advanced manufacturing clean energy and
As a nation. we can’t simply cut our way to prosperity or fall back to
the top-down, trickle-down economics that benefits the few, but guts
investments in our country’s future that grow our economy — and your
startups. But that’s the choice in this election between two
fundamentally different paths for our country, between moving forward
and falling back.
As your president, I will continue to stand by you because if we
combine our creativity. our innovation and our optimism, we can
achieve anything. And the reason I’ve never been more optimistic about
the future is because of all of you. You’ll be the next entrepreneur
to turn a big idea into something — a new invention or an entire new
industry. That’s the promise of America; that’s what this country is
That is the legacy of Edison and Bell. That is the story of Google and
Twitter. That is what landed NASA’s Curiosity on Mars, reminding us
that our preeminence — not just in space. but here on Earth — depends
on investing wisely in the innovation, technology, and basic research
that has always made the United States the envy of the world.
So keep doing and dreaming and moving our country forward.