Who We Are
The Silicon Valley Innovation Leaders group is an informal collaborative convened through the Silicon Valley Innovation Institute in late spring of 2009.  In late summer, this group launched a Silicon Valley Letters to Washington initiative to address the critical issues faced by the entrepreneurial innovation community. 

This all-volunteer initiative was executed by members of that group, and members of an overlapping community of entrepreneurs and innovation advocates, the SVII Innovation Society. This effort has been led by Sue Lebeck, Executive Program Director of SVII and Principal of Silicon Valley Innovation Associates; with Paul Masson, Managing Director of StarNetLLC, as Senior Advisor.  This effort has been supported by the further hosting and pro bono services of several additional Silicon Valley firms.

What We're Doing
The needs of innovators, start-ups, and entrepreneurs are directly connected to our National economic vibrancy and future competitive advantage.   

We seek to share with our policy leaders in Washington the reality currently experienced by Silicon Valley entrepreneurs.  We seek to engage in dialogue that will inform and influence future innovation-related policy. We invite policy leaders to come to Silicon Valley to engage with us in an
Entrepreneurial Policy Roundtable discussion of these issues.


Our focus is on enhancing structural support -- and removing structural obstacles -- for innovative entrepreneurship.  Our message is not Silicon Valley specific, nor industry specific.  The issues we describe are the issues of innovative entrepreneurs everywhere.  Moreover, they are critical to the vibrancy of the larger innovation eco-system, which includes firms of all sizes and in all industries. 

Who We're Speaking To
We are outreaching to those in Washington who direct Innovation policy, with a focus on the offices which manage Science and Technology policy and related policy.  These offices include:

-   the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP)

-   several offices in the House (Speaker’s Office; Science & Technology Policy Committee) and

-   several offices in the Senate (Leader’s Office, Commerce, Science,
Transportation Committee/Competitiveness, Innovation & Export Promotion Subcommittee,
possibly others)

-   the Department of Commerce (Office of innovation and entrepreneurship)


We plan to cc: key innovation influence groups:

- Council on Competitiveness (COC)

- Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF)
We plan also to cc: key local politicians.


Our Letter to Washington
Letter - Executive Summary

Key Elements of Our Message
Since the founding of our nation, an innovation engine has propelled our economic growth. But that engine is now sputtering, and unless we take immediate steps, may stall. The countries that innovate best will build tomorrow’s multi-billion dollar industries that will create millions of new jobs.  The U.S. is, for the first time, in danger of not being one of those countries.

Entrepreneurship is the basis of our innovation engine.  This innovation engine needs "fuel" and "air" to run. The "fuel" is early stage R&D, and investment at every phase of the innovation cycle.  The "air" is the regulatory and policy environment, which control incentives and rewards, intellectual property, and access/influence to policy-makers.  In both the “fuel” and “air” dimensions, entrepreneurs are experiencing serious obstacles to the innovation cycle.  

Recommendations re: “fuel”/early stage R&D
create incentives for early stage investment
reward technology transfer and commercialization
balance basic and applied research
reduce responsibility for compliance requirements designed for larger businesses

Recommendations re: “air”/IP and related protections:
restore financial incentives to founders
reduce time and cost associated with establishing IP
give small firms a greater voice and remove negotiation disadvantages.

Our Invitation:
We invite our policy-makers to come to Silicon Valley to engage with us in an Entrepreneurial Policy Roundtable Discussion to explore these urgent issues.

Add Your Support
To express your support of the "Silicon Valley Letter to Washington", write us at:
supporters@svletterstowashington.org.  Send us your name, title, and organizational affiliation, as you would like it to appear on our "Signatures and Supporters" page. 

If the nature of your support is more general, or if you have questions, please also write us with your informal support or questions at supporters@svletterstowashington.org
Thank you!
The “Silicon Valley Letters to Washington” initiative has been an enlightening exercise in clarifying the challenges of entrepreneurship and innovation, and in confirming the prevalent policy processes in our nation’s beltway. Our all-volunteer collective, hosted by several Silicon Valley firms, represented a unique structure for developing and bringing forward statements to Washington.  As such, it drew intellectual interest from several of the Washington players we reached out to.

The good news is that our collaboratively-developed concepts and content were well received by those who read it.   Its accuracy, relevance and potential value to innovation policy was understood and confirmed.  But/and… there is not a pathway/process at this time for an informal collective to champion policy in Washington.  There is also not enough staff, budget or process in Washington to come here to accept our invitations and engage in conversation.

This outcome is not a surprise.  We knew going in that this was not an unlikely response.  Un-deterred, we pursued our intention and our experiment, and got our message sent, received, read and acknowledged for its potential value.

Thank you, and congratulations to all those involved.  Our letter will remain posted here, and can be referenced freely.  Should the context for engagement change in the future, perhaps we will pick up this conversation again.

Sue Lebeck, Initiative Director, slebeck@svinnovationassociates.com 
Paul Masson, Senior Advisor, paul_masson@starnetllc.net 
April 2010

Press Contact
Andrea Roesch, Tier One Partners
650-644-1700, aroesch@tieronepr.com.

and other Silicon Valley firms