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Building a pipeline of well-rounded and highly trained individuals is vital to retaining American leadership in technological innovation. To that end, Engine advocates for comprehensive immigration reform and holistic approaches to education reform, including a greater emphasis on STEM disciplines.
Data & Security
Considerations about how companies, governments and individuals interact with, build upon, and learn from aggregate data are increasingly important in policy and regulatory discussions. We help educate companies and governments on how data are and should be collected, used, and protected. At the same time, we encourage lawmakers to create policies that do not hinder efforts to harness the potential of experimenting with data. A new round of cybersecurity policies, crafted with broad industry participation, can propel the U.S. to global leadership in commercial incentive and cybersecurity regulation.
Connecting more Americans to broadband is critical to growing our entrepreneurial economy. As many as 19 million Americans live in areas unserved by broadband internet providers. These individuals represent potential users and founders who are cut off from the opportunities high speed internet provides. Connectivity will also drive the Internet of Things (IoT) and the ability to derive societal value from emerging industries including the Smart Grid and building automation. Policymakers must strive to make more spectrum available to preserve the thriving wireless marketplace, and consider creative solutions such as the new application of abandoned television wavelengths for commercial uses. The newest generation of wireless devices has revolutionized the startup world, created a new market for consumer and enterprise services, and generated jobs for developers.
Limited access to capital can be one of the biggest challenges a startup faces. Seed stage venture capital investment in startups has dropped by more than 70 percent since its peak in 2000. Congress has taken steps toward loosening regulations on how startups can raise money from new groups of investors, including “crowdfunding” which may open up an entirely new market for equity investment. Policymakers and the Securities and Exchange Commission must protect investors while implementing new laws that create sustainable capital streams for entrepreneurs.
The Internet is a game-changing, enabling tool for all industries. Internet-based commerce empowers consumers on every corner to build small businesses, trade in goods and services, and harness previously unattainable educational opportunities. Keeping the internet free for competition and innovation helps these companies emerge and grow into successful enterprises, and creates the potential for businesses to start anywhere. Policymakers should protect the Internet from harmful government intervention.
Patents were developed to encourage openness in the innovation space and to protect inventors. Startups are increasingly facing legal pressure from “patent trolls” — companies that take advantage of a broken software patent system, and operate by collecting fees on software patent licenses, as opposed to making products and contributing to growth and technological innovation. In 2011 alone, U.S. businesses were subjected to $29 billion in direct costs from patent infringement claims filed by “non-practicing entities”. On copyright, new distribution technologies are making it easier for anyone to reach a broad audience, so the law should allow these new technologies and their creators to succeed.
Only a tech workforce and founder population that represents a broad cross section of our society can ensure that the future of innovation is inclusive, empowering, and impactful. Engine is working with partners across the technology industry as well as in government to address the lack of diversity in the technology community.
Great ideas, and great companies, can and should start anywhere. We’re working with entrepreneurs, community leaders, and municipal governments in cities across the United States to support the growth of the technology sector all across America.
Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act has been called the most important law impacting the Internet and continues to serve as the bedrock principle behind user generated content. Startups rely on the intermediary liability protections found in Section 230 to innovate and create new ways for people to communicate.