Supporting Innovation and Exports in the Bay Area

July 24, 2012

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Francisco Sánchez is the Under Secretary for International Trade

I was excited to travel to San Francisco and the Bay Area on Monday. As the Under Secretary of International Trade, this area has special importance because it is home to some key industries for America’s economy, especially knowledge-based and clean-technology (cleantech) industries.

The Bay Area is also on the forefront of American innovation. The region produces more patents than any other area of the United States and attracts 36 percent of the nation’s total venture capital investment. In addition, the Bay Area boasts more Ph.D. scientists and engineers than any other metropolitan area in the U.S.

Innovation leads to new ways to use technology and capital that make American workers more productive, leading to new job opportunities. It also helps U.S. companies stay competitive abroad, allowing them to deliver better quality products for less. Innovation is good for the economy and for American workers.

Under Secretary Francisco Sánchez presents Nikolas Weinstein of Nikolas Weinstein Studios an Export Achievement Certificate at his studio in San Francisco (Photo Commerce)

Under Secretary Francisco Sánchez presents Nikolas Weinstein of Nikolas Weinstein Studios an Export Achievement Certificate at his studio in San Francisco (Photo Commerce)

The Bay Area is a good example of how innovation can help create jobs. According to the Progressive Policy Institute, there are an estimated 311,000 people employed making applications, games and other tools for smartphones and devices and for social networking sites like Facebook.

The Department of Commerce has long recognized this and recently we have undertaken several new initiatives to help encourage innovation. Most recently, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) announced they would open four new branch offices in Detroit, Denver, Dallas and one right here in San Jose. The new branch offices will help speed up the patent and trademark process, allowing local entrepreneurs to innovate faster.

As part of the effort, Acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank was just in the Bay Area two weeks ago to promote the office and detail Commerce initiatives to help spur innovation.

While in the Bay Area, I hosted an insourcing roundtable with five local companies who are making insourcing a reality. Insourcing is a growing trend in the U.S. where U.S. companies are bringing manufacturing jobs – once outsourced- back to American soil. More and more businesses are realizing the best place to grow their capacity is right here in America. To help encourage the process, the Department of Commerce has started new initiatives such as SelectUSA to attract business investment back to the United States.

Insourcing represents many new opportunities to create good-paying manufacturing jobs, and we’ve created a fact sheet to let you know how we’re supporting American manufacturers.

After our insourcing roundtable, I met with executives from Cureline Inc. and toured their facilities. Cureline is a biomedical research group that works with medical centers in the U.S., Europe and Asia.

We consider biotech an emerging industry at ITA, and because of that they have unique needs to succeed abroad. Cureline participated in a Commerce sponsored health IT trade mission to Mexico in May and with the help of the U.S. Export Assistance Center in San Francisco has successfully found clients in Europe in Japan. Cureline also plans to open a new research facility in South San Francisco within a year, which means more local jobs. This is an exciting new industry that shows great promise for the future.

While I was in San Francisco, I also had the pleasure of meeting Nikolas Weinstein, founder of Nikolas Weinstein Studios and presenting him with an Export Achievement Award for all the work he’s done abroad. Nicholas Weinstein Studios creates unique architectural glass installations in the Mission District of San Francisco, although over 90 percent of their work is sold abroad. For example, in 2010, the studio designed, manufactured and installed a 300-foot long glass sculpture in the lobby of the Hotel Intercontinental in Shanghai. In 2009, they began working with the U.S. Commercial Service in San Francisco to seek counseling on international markets in Japan, China and Hong Kong.

Nicholas Weinstein Studios is the perfect example of a small business using exports as a way to support good-paying jobs in America. The bottom line is: exports equals jobs. To find out more about how to use the resources we have at ITA to help your business export, I urge everyone to visit www.export.gov.

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