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RoseAnn B. Rosenthal spoke to the U.S. House Committee on Science and Technology with advice for
the Department of Commerce’s new Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Ben FranklinWASHINGTON, D.C. ( – RoseAnn B. Rosenthal, President & CEO of Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania (BFTP/SEP), yesterday testified before the U.S. House Committee on Science and Technology’s subcommittee on Technology and Innovation.

Rosenthal was asked to testify because of her track record in Pennsylvania’s technology community, expertise in the industry, and role within Ben Franklin.  Since 2001 alone, Ben Franklin has committed more than $50 million to over 500 early stage companies, which have created or retained over 7000 high-tech jobs.  During that time Ben Franklin’s portfolio companies have raised more than a billion dollars in follow-on investment.

Rosenthal testified at the Committee’s hearing on the Department of Commerce programs to support job creation and innovation at small- and medium-sized manufacturers, offering it her expertise on fostering the growth of early-stage companies and helping them create effective pathways to commercialization.

In her testimony, Rosenthal noted the linear relationship between Ben Franklin and Pennsylvania, and the Department of Commerce’s new Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship and the nation.

“Ben Franklin is Pennsylvania’s partner in innovation, technology and entrepreneurship, created at an earlier time of economic recession and job loss in our nation,” said Rosenthal.  “The Ben Franklin Partnership mission was, and is, to catalyze efforts that rebuild Pennsylvania’s economy through science and technology.  Our mission is consistent with that of the Office of Entrepreneurship.  This Office, given the appropriate resources, presents an ideal opportunity for implementing new policies.”
Rosenthal offered the Committee Ben Franklin’s assistance, saying its decades of success in commercializing technology and seeding enterprises could be invaluable.

“We can offer concrete, practical suggestions for redirecting existing federal dollars to update programs in order to maximize federal investment and generate increased job creation,” said Rosenthal.

Rosenthal recommended that five main elements be considered as part of a framework for retooling:
1. Goals that are few, clear and non-conflicting and that keep the ultimate objective—economic growth through entrepreneurial innovation—at the forefront.
2. An approach that is less prescriptive and more receptive to new models, and allows program design to be driven by the specific challenges and opportunities at regional, state and local levels.
3. Flexibility in implementation, enabling timely response as conditions change.
4. Programs that focus on reducing the barriers to collaboration and innovations.
5. Designs that catalyze institutional and private involvement and investment over time.

Rosenthal cautioned the Committee that financially constrained state technology development programs, such as Ben Franklin, are unable to make capital available for many viable innovative enterprises and initiatives.  She invited creative new approaches and a retooling of existing federal programs for innovation as a solution, also urging the Committee to fund the Office so that it can launch broader, comprehensive regional funding models—all with a goal of helping regions cultivate innovation and bring valuable start-ups to market.

Said Rosenthal, “[The Office] could be the impetus for a National Innovation Network, with funded public/private partnerships able to develop the integrated strategies and programs necessary to drive innovation through to grow companies that create high-wage jobs, and to encourage multi-state partnerships able to stimulate the growth of natural clusters.”

Others asked to testify at the hearing were the Honorable Dwight F. Hightower, Deputy Secretary of Commerce; Jennifer Owens, Vice President of Ann Arbor Spark; and Michael Coast, President of Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center.
To read Rosenthal’s full written testimony, visit the U.S. House Committee on Science and Technology’s Web site.