Startup News Digest 1/6/17

Our weekly take on some of the biggest stories in startup and tech policy. To receive this weekly digest in your inbox, sign up at

ICYMI: 2016 Year in Review. Last year saw a number of notable moments in startup and technology policy: investment crowdfunding went live, net neutrality survived a court challenge, drones took the the skies, encryption dominated headlines, the Copyright Office reviewed the DMCA, and much more. Over the last two weeks, we have been recapping these top issues and looking at how they could be impacted in 2017 on our blog. Read all of the posts here, and stay up to date with these topics and more by signing up for our monthly newsletter.

FTC Launches Prize Competition for IoT Security. The security of connected devices is a growing issue, as evidenced by last October’s massive DDoS cyberattack that was executed by exploiting vulnerable internet of things (IoT) devices and shut down a number of websites. In an attempt to call attention to this problem and encourage innovative technical solutions, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced a new prize competition at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas on Wednesday. The competition will award $25,000 for the most innovative tool to help consumers identify and easily address security vulnerabilities in their connected home devices. The agency is hoping for a broad range of solutions, but noted that “an ideal tool might be a physical device that the consumer can add to his or her home network that would check and install updates for other IoT devices on that home network, or it might be an app or cloud-based service, or a dashboard or other user interface.” Submissions will be accepted from March 1 to May 22.

115th Congress Gets Down to Business. Following their swearing in, the new Congress wasted no time in reintroducing key legislation supported by the startup community. On the first day of the 115th Congress, Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune (R-SD) and Ranking Member Bill Nelson (D-FL) brought back the MOBILE NOW Act. If enacted, this bill would foster innovation and empower entrepreneurs by freeing up spectrum for both licensed and unlicensed commercial use and streamlining broadband infrastructure deployment. On Wednesday, House Small Business Committee Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH) reintroduced the Helping Angels Lead Our Startups (HALOS) Act. This bill expands upon the JOBS Act by allowing angel investor groups to host events intended to showcase early-stage startups and connect them with potential funders without unintentionally running afoul of securities laws. Finally, on Thursday, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) reintroduced the Tested Ability to Leverage Exceptional National Talent (TALENT) Act, designed to codify the Presidential Innovation Fellows (PIF) program and bring innovators into the public sector.  Engine applauds all three of these bills and the critical assistance they offer to the startup sector.

AI XPRIZE Team Registration Deadline Approaching. Do you want to change the world? The IBM Watson Artificial Intelligence XPRIZE is waiting for you. From revolutionizing healthcare to changing how children are taught, the possibilities are endless. Teams have the chance to define their own goals and projects, and will go head-to-head competing for a $5 million grand prize. The registration deadline to register as a team is January 19, 2017. More details can be found at