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Public Statements

BostInno - We Can't Let Government Hold Back Startups

Op-Ed

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By Senator Scott Brown

Over the years, creative thinkers in Massachusetts have produced world-changing literature, science, art, and even sports. For a relatively small state, Massachusetts has had a big impact on the world. From the telephone to computers to life-saving medicines, we have a lot to be proud of.

Today, creative minds across Massachusetts are burning hotter than ever. Walking around MassChallenge's barebones incubator a few months ago, I met young entrepreneurs with original ideas that could change our world. A few of them had been up all night working on their business. I've seen the same enthusiasm at the Cambridge Innovation Center and elsewhere in the state.

Facebook, E*Trade, Texas Instruments, and Hewlett-Packard have roots in Massachusetts. And according to a 2009 Kauffman Foundation, MIT alumni were responsible for more than a quarter of all sales by Massachusetts companies, or $164 billion per year. This is Massachusetts today.

It is frustrating, then, to hear from entrepreneurs that obsolete government policies are holding them back. That's why I'm proud to have introduced the first Senate crowdfunding bill. I was proud to join President Obama at the White House for the signing just a few months ago. There were skeptics who told me to give up on trying to change regulations that had reigned for nearly a century. That's not the Massachusetts way.

It's up to us to identify a problem and then solve it, no matter the challenge. As a result of bipartisan cooperation, entrepreneurs will soon have access to an entirely new source of capital to grow their businesses.

A great example is Eric Migicovsky, an engineer who turned to Kickstarter after he could not secure financial backing to launch his product. He developed the Pebble e-paper watch, and raised over $10 million in pledges within weeks. With crowdfunding, those ordinary Americans could be equity investors in the company, and could own a share of the company's success.

The rest of the world is both our market and our competition, which is why I co-sponsored the Innovate America Act introduced by Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.). It's a bill that addresses the biggest concerns I hear from entrepreneurs who are looking to hire, such as STEM education, broken import and export regulations, and more support for basic research and development. We also need to improve our legal immigration system so that Massachusetts and America can attract the most talented students, workers and entrepreneurs from all around the world.

There's much more to be done and I will keep working across the aisle to push Washington in the right direction. Job creating ideas like crowdfunding for start-ups didn't originate in Washington. I've appreciated the close relationships that I've formed with leading Massachusetts innovators and I ask that you keep sharing your best ideas with me. Massachusetts is an exceptional place, and together we can make it an even better place in which to work and do business.


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