As part of its spirited but confounding effort to “win the future,” the Obama administration has announced Startup America, a program that aims to dampen the effects of our stumbling economy through the magic of state-sponsored ingenuity and entrepreneurship.
For starters, the U.S. Small Business Administration plans to match $2 billion in private sector investment over the next five years. That’s a welcome contribution, but it’ll hardly move the needle in a venture-capital market that saw $21 billion in investment last year alone. Fortunately, this year Intel Capital will be providing $200 million in new investments, and IBM will throw another $150 million at some startups.
Next, the government aims to enlist Brad Feld and TechStars to create 25,000 jobs by 2015. There are currently 14.5 million unemployed in America.
And then there are the oft-promised green jobs:
Our Nation’s research agencies are actively engaged on this topic. Building on the success of last year’s inaugural i6 Challenge, the Economic Development Administration will launch the $12M i6 Green Challenge in collaboration with research agencies focused on proof-of-concept centers that accelerate technology commercialization, regional economic development, and environmental sustainability.
If it’s anything like the i6 Challenge, this initiative will provide a million or so dollars to a handful of organizations scattered around the U.S. The government is also taking suggestions for making it easier to start businesses.
There’s always the off chance that the government will help a small-time firm become the next Google or Facebook, and statistics support the notion that startups are a major source of employment growth. Still, the scale on which the administration is operating makes it seem like it’s much more interested in looking like it knows what a startup is than leveraging American entrepreneurship into a new American bull economy.
mtaylor [at] observer.com | @mbrookstaylor