Archive for the ‘innovation’ Category

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Helping Small Business Owners Identify their Vital Intellectual Property

August 20, 2018

This post contains external links. Please review our external linking policy.

This post originally appeared on the Minority Business Development Blog.

Rachel S. Salzman is an International Trade Specialist in the Office of Intellectual Property Rights in the Industry & Analysis Bureau of the International Trade Administration

Benjamin N. Hardman is an Attorney-Advisor with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on detail with the Office of Intellectual Property Rights in the Industry & Analysis Bureau of the International Trade Administration

Intellectual property (IP) is a key commodity in U.S. trade. Each year more than 50 percent of U.S. merchandise exports and more than 10 percent of total U.S. services exports come from IP intensive industries. The United States has become the global leader in cutting-edge sectors in part due to strong IP protection regimes. We know that IP is how the U.S. economy will continue to grow, and that protection both at home and abroad is critical for our industries to flourish worldwide.Photo of professionals working together.

As part of the Department of Commerce’s overarching commitment to helping the American economy grow, commerce agencies, including the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, International Trade Administration (ITA), and Minority Business Development Agency:

  • Work with stakeholders to increase the effectiveness of the U.S. IP system domestically and abroad;
  • Provide U.S. stakeholders with information and training on best practices to protect and enforce intellectual property; and
  • Provide minority businesses with information on intellectual property protection.

The International Trade Administration’s Office of Intellectual Property Rights (OIPR), Industry & Analysis, is committed to educating U.S. business, especially small and medium-sized enterprises, including minority-owned businesses, about protecting IP at home and in foreign markets. We work to make sure that when U.S. businesses export or otherwise work with foreign partners and suppliers, they know how to do so in a way that protects innovative technology and keeps American intellectual property safe and secure.

The cornerstone of OIPR’s educational outreach is the signature STOPfakes Roadshow program. Roadshows are interagency programs led by OIPR and coordinated in partnership with local U.S. Export Assistance Centers that bring IP experts from across U.S. agencies to cities around the country to help educate small and medium-sized enterprises about protecting their intellectual property. Roadshow participants hear from representatives of agencies including ITA, Customs and Border Protection, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center, the Small Business Administration, and the Copyright Office, with other partners, including MBDA, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and Naval Sea Systems Command participating at select locations. In addition, participants can apply onsite for trademark and copyright recordation with CBP and to register their copyrights with the Copyright Office. Agencies have experts onsite to provide personalized assistance. Finally, each Roadshow concludes with the opportunity for one-on-one consultations with agency representatives. N 2018, ITA relaunched the STOPfakes Roadshow program with Roadshows in Seattle and Portland on July 24 and July 26. The next events will be in Dallas on August 21 and in Austin on August 23. A full schedule of upcoming Roadshows, along with agendas and further information about speakers is available at http://www.stopfakes.gov/roadshows.

In addition to the STOPfakes Roadshows, OIPR makes a wide variety of educational material available on www.STOPfakes.gov to assist U.S. entrepreneurs in understanding the ins and outs of IP protection. Materials include industry toolkits, country IP Snapshots, and in-depth country toolkits, in addition to webinars and an online diagnostic module to help small business owners identify their vital IP and think about a business plan for protecting it. You can also follow us on Twitter @STOPfakesGov to get the latest information on events and online resources.

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Advancing Both U.S. and Kenyan Economic Interests in Transportation, Healthcare, and Infrastructure

July 26, 2018

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This is the second blog in a series of posts highlighting a four-nation President’s Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa (PAC-DBIA) fact-finding mission led by U.S. Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Gilbert Kaplan. For more information on the PAC-DBIA visit https://www.trade.gov/dbia/ or follow the trip on social media at #PACDBIA.

Judy Lao is a Trade Facilitation Officer in the Office of Latin America & Caribbean.

Did you know that Kenya is the seventh-largest export market in Sub-Saharan Africa? This means more opportunities for U.S. businesses looking to reach new and emerging markets. This also made it the perfect stop on our two-week PAC-DBIA fact-finding mission! After an impactful three days in Ethiopia, the delegation of U.S. companies and U.S. government agencies landed in Nairobi, Kenya.

The trip began with a luncheon hosted by Kenya Airways, the country’s national carrier. In partnership with U.S. aviation companies Boeing and GE, Kenya Airways highlighted the much-anticipated inaugural non-stop flight from Nairobi to New York that is scheduled for October 28, 2018. This reflects the increasing bilateral economic and commercial ties between the United States and Kenya. The partnership between Kenya Airways and Boeing opens the door for other U.S. aviation companies to get involved and invest in Kenya Airways.

Another way that economic and commercial ties between Kenya and the United States are being advanced is through a series of commercial deal signings at the AmCham Big Four Conference. The conference is a platform for discussion on joint aspiration, challenges, and practical solutions through which American businesses can support the realization of Kenya’s “Big Four” economic agenda. Kenya’s Big Four Agenda focuses on several key areas, including agriculture (food security), infrastructure development (affordable housing), health (universal healthcare coverage), and industrialization (manufacturing). The commercial deals signed at the conference were the results of intensive advocacy services, commercial diplomacy, and business-to-business meetings between U.S. firms and local partners facilitated by the Commercial Service team in Kenya.

Throughout the visit, Under Secretary Kaplan encouraged the improvement and the advancement of both U.S. and Kenyan economic interests in healthcare. Varian Medical Systems, a PAC-DBIA member, signed a $20 million deal with Mediheal Hospital. Varian will equip five Mediheal Cancer Centers across Kenya with oncology treatments. Varian will also establish an education center of excellence that will provide training for clinical personnel. This effort is the largest project dedicated to cancer treatment in Kenya, and will benefit approximately 3,200 Kenyan cancer patients per year. By supplying critically needed health service and technical training to Kenya, this deal is a notable example of how the United States is helping Kenya reach its “Big Four” initiative of providing affordable and high-quality healthcare to all.

Under Secretary Kaplan concluded the trip by paying his respect to those who died in the August 7, 1998, bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, including two ITA employees. A wreath laying was held to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the bombing that took the lives of 213 people and injured 4,000 more. Under Secretary Kaplan personally met with the widows of two ITA Foreign Service National (FSN) staff who lost their lives, and a Commerce FSN who survived but was injured. The wreath laying was an important reminder that the people of the Foreign Service dedicate their lives to the service of our country.

During a meeting with the National Treasury Cabinet Secretary, Henry Rotich, Under Secretary Kaplan signed the U.S.-Kenya Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to promote U.S. commercial participation and investment between the two countries. The U.S.-Kenya MOU will focus collaboration between the U.S. and Kenyan Governments to attract and support American companies to provide the goods, services, and investment required to achieve the Big Four goals and to build critical infrastructure in Kenya. This is an update to the previous MOU executed in 2015 that had focused exclusively on infrastructure.

The Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration is committed to advancing new policies that will benefit the economic and social welfare both in the United States and with its partners in trade, such as Kenya. For more information on our programs or to find an office near you, contact us.

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Thanks to Innovation and Investment, the U.S. Aerospace Industry is Boldly Going to New Frontiers

June 1, 2018

This post originally appeared on the Department of Commerce blog.

Guest blog post by Brian Lenihan , Acting Executive Director of SelectUSA

Photo of satellite from space.

Photo of satellite from space.

On February 20, Vice President Mike Pence led the second meeting of the National Space Council at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Vice President Pence reiterated the Trump Administration’s dedication to making the United States the global leader in the burgeoning commercial space industry.

“It’s here today, in the 21st century, that the modern marvels that launch from these grounds will prove that the public and private sectors are achieving far more today than we ever have before,” Vice President Pence told the Council.

The Trump Administration is focused on maintaining U.S. leadership in space exploration and technology through public-private partnerships between the Federal government and international companies. By reviving the National Space Council in July, signing Space Policy Directive 1 in December, signing Space Policy Directive 2 in May, and authorizing an increase in NASA’s budget, President Trump is positioning the United States for a return to the Moon and a venture to Mars and beyond.

“As the President said, space is the ‘next great American frontier’ – and it is our duty – and our destiny – to settle that frontier with American leadership, courage, and values,” Vice President Pence said at the inaugural meeting of the National Space Council in October.

Settling that frontier will take human ingenuity and innovative technologies, both of which the United States has in abundance. The world’s top companies are drawn to the innovation culture of the United States. By encouraging entrepreneurship and risk taking, this culture offers an added competitive edge to the business community and leads to technological breakthroughs.

Simply put, the U.S. aerospace industry is a global powerhouse. International firms are drawn to its skilled and educated workforce and extensive distribution systems. World-changing technology is made in the USA, including technologies that rove the surface of Mars and make it possible to study galaxies millions of lightyears away. In 2016 alone, the industry contributed $147 billion in export sales to the U.S. economy, which led to a positive trade balance of $90.5 billion — the largest of any manufacturing industry.

Through the President’s Space Policy Directive 2, the Department of Commerce recently announced its intent to create a new Space Policy Advancing Commercial Enterprise (SPACE) Administration, which  will create a new “one stop shop” within the Department for promoting, administering, and regulating commercial space activities.   The SPACE Administration, to be housed within the Office of the Secretary, will  advance pro-growth policies affecting commercial space activities. This flourishing industry will also be a focus of the 2018 SelectUSA Investment Summit (June 20-22), the top foreign direct investment event in the United States. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross will lead a panel of industry experts to discuss the latest updates in a rapidly changing field and how domestic and foreign companies can utilize U.S. resources to join a new commercial space race.

This June, global companies—from aerospace to agriculture—will join high-level government officials, business executives, thought leaders, and economic developers from across the United States for the Investment Summit in Washington, D.C. To learn more about how you can attend the top foreign direct investment event in the country, please visit selectusasummit.us. Additionally, please visit selectusa.gov for more information on how—and why—to invest in the United States.

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Smart Fabrics 101

March 22, 2018

This post contains external links. Please review our external linking policy.

Guest blog post by Linden L. Wicklund, Director of Member Services, Industrial Fabrics Association International 

Smart Fabrics Summit logoWe are fast approaching an important gathering of business and government leaders in Washington, D.C., at the Smart Fabrics Summit, co-hosted by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration and the Industrial Fabrics Association International (IFAI) on April 24.  The Summit will bring together more than 200 representatives from the apparel, technology and textile industries to explore the challenges and opportunities facing designers, manufacturers, and retailers of smart fabrics and wearable products.

The capabilities of everyday textiles and apparel are rapidly expanding as new technologies are developed, redefining how we interact with our environment through clothing and other textiles.  Like cell phones, which have evolved from being used for simple phone calls to incorporating a variety of “smart” functions into a single device, textiles and apparel are evolving and gaining the ability to be used in new and innovative ways.  Smart fabrics – textile materials developed using new technologies to provide revolutionary properties – can communicate with other devices, conduct and store energy, and even monitor biometric data.  One smart fabric is an active wear jacket that allows users to control a smart phone from the jacket’s sleeve. Another cutting-edge technology offered by smart fabric technologies is a sock which tracks an infant’s heart rate and oxygen level while he or she sleeps and sends an alert to the parents’ smartphones if there is a problem.

Defining and understanding smart fabrics is key to developing product standards, intellectual property protections and export strategies. Smart fabrics can include sensors that identify or react to outside stimuli, such as environmental conditions or the wearer’s actions. Sensors may be created through electrical circuits woven into or printed on the material with chemical treatments and coatings, or through fiber or yarn engineering. Smart fabrics may change color in reaction to a stimulus, such as bandages that change color to signal an infection. Smart fabrics may collect solar energy or serve as a carrier for medicine. They can be self-cleaning and even fight air pollution.

Bar graph showing worldwide market for smart fabric products growth equates to 18 percent annually during the past four years to reach $3.1 billion in 2017.

Worldwide market for smart fabric products growth equates to 18 percent annually during the past four years to reach $3.1 billion in 2017.

Research by Jeff Rasmussen, IFAI’s Director of Market Research, shows that worldwide, the market for smart fabric products has grown by 18 percent annually during the past four years to reach $3.1 billion in 2017. With this explosive rate of growth, marketing opportunities for U.S. smart fabrics and technology firms are sure to expand. Smart fabric products may be used in multiple market segments, including fashion and entertainment, industrial and commercial, medical and healthcare, military and government, sports and fitness, and transportation.

Join us for the Smart Fabrics Summit on April 24 and learn more about what this diverse and growing market provides to U.S. manufacturers and consumers. The day’s events will include an address from Dr. Yoel Fink, CEO of Advanced Functional Fabrics of America (AFFOA), panel discussions covering collaboration with educational institutions, developing standards for smart fabrics, trends in public-private R&D partnerships for smart fabrics, and data security and privacy for connected textiles and apparel. The Summit will also provide demonstrations of various smart fabrics under development.  We hope to see you there!

 

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Tacoma, Washington Firms Translate Global Success into Local Jobs and Economic Growth

October 16, 2017

Susan Crawford is a communications specialist for the U.S. Commercial Service’s Pacific North Network 

U.S. Rep. Kilmer’s District Representative Nicholas Carr presented each of the three organizations with their Certificate of Appreciation at a recent event hosted by the World Trade Center Tacoma. L-R: Nicholas Carr, James Newman of Tacoma Community College, Dennis Morris of SAFE Boats International, Diane Mooney of U.S. Commercial Service Seattle, Jason Lollar of Lollar Guitars, Inc.

U.S. Rep. Kilmer’s District Representative Nicholas Carr presented each of the three organizations with their Certificate of Appreciation at a recent event hosted by the World Trade Center Tacoma. L-R: Nicholas Carr, James Newman of Tacoma Community College, Dennis Morris of SAFE Boats International, Diane Mooney of U.S. Commercial Service Seattle, Jason Lollar of Lollar Guitars, Inc.

Three small Tacoma-area organizations prove that it is possible to look beyond U.S. borders and succeed in the global marketplace. The World Trade Center Tacoma, the U.S. Commercial Service, and U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer’s office recently recognized Tacoma Community College, Lollar Guitars, Inc., and SAFE Boats International with a U.S. Commercial Service Certificate of Appreciation for the positive impact these organizations have had on their community through exporting and international operations, and promotion of local jobs.

SAFE Boats International

SAFE Boats International, based in Bremerton, Wash., designs and builds aluminum boats that are used by military, law enforcement, and fire and rescue agencies worldwide. The company’s international sales account for 30 percent of total revenues and provide jobs for approximately 200 of the firm’s 400 employees.

Before signing any international distribution contracts, the firm contacts the U.S. Commercial Service to conduct background checks on potential agents to help ensure that they have a solid reputation and meet the firm’s partnership requirements. “The U.S. Commercial Service has helped us to grow our international sales and build solid business expansion opportunities worldwide,” said SAFE Boats International Chief Executive Officer Dennis Morris. “We value this relationship as a true ‘force multiplier’.”

Lollar Guitars, Inc.

Tacoma-based Lollar Guitars is a small, family-owned firm that designs and manufactures pickups for electric, bass and steel guitars. The U.S. Commercial Service has assisted Lollar Guitars with export documentation and international payment issues, and helped identify valuable international networking opportunities for the firm. During the past 10 years, the firm’s exports to more than 30 countries have expanded to reach 20 percent of total sales.

Tacoma Community College
Tacoma Community College (TCC) works closely with the U.S. Commercial Service to develop new international student markets. “The [U.S. Commercial Service] has been a terrific resource for our college in introducing new partners and connecting us with in-country representatives in China, Korea, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Mexico,” said James Newman, director of International Student Services at Tacoma Community College. Since 2009, TCC has expanded international student enrollment from 270 to 450 students, which in turn supports 11 full-time and 8 part-time employees. The local Tacoma economy also benefits from international student spending on goods and services, such as accommodations, food, and transportation. Community members in the College’s homestay program benefit from compensation of $625 per month.

Local Export Resources

It’s true that exporting can be more complicated than selling in the United States, and that’s where the U.S. Commercial Service can help. Our trade professionals are located in more than 100 U.S. cities and more than 75 countries to help U.S. companies get started in exporting or increase sales to new global markets. For more information, locate your closest U.S. Commercial Service office.

U.S. Commercial Service provides educational material and short how-to videos for firms interested in learning the basics of exporting.

Country Commercial Guides are another ITA resource for firms interested in exploring worldwide market opportunities. The guides provide information on market conditions, opportunities, regulations, and business customs for 125 nations.

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The NASBITE Certified Global Business Professional Credential Program Helps Advance U.S. Exports and International Trade

September 14, 2017

About the authors: Yuki Fujiyama is a trade finance specialist in the Office of Finance and Insurance Industries and the author of the Trade Finance Guide: A Quick Reference for U.S. Exporters. Fujiyama currently serves as an ex-officio Board Member of NASBITE International.  Cory Simek, the Executive Secretary of the Missouri District Export Council, currently serves as the Director of the U.S. Commercial Service – St. Louis, Missouri.

This post contains external links. Please review our external linking policy.

Helping U.S. businesses, especially small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), enter and compete in global markets is a core mission of the International Trade Administration (ITA), the federal government’s lead export promotion agency.

As part of that ongoing effort, ITA and the University of Missouri International Trade Center–a joint program of the Missouri Small Business & Technology Centers and the University’s Robert J. Trulaske, Sr. College of Business–recently partnered to present a three-day interactive training workshop designed for those seeking to earn the Certified Global Business Professional (CGBP) credential.

Participants of the NASBITE CGBP Preparation Training Workshop on August 8-10, 2017 at the Robert J. Trulaske, Sr. College of Business at the University of Missouri in Columbia, Mo.

Participants of the NASBITE CGBP Preparation Training Workshop on August 8-10, 2017 at the Robert J. Trulaske, Sr. College of Business at the University of Missouri in Columbia, Mo.

The CGBP credential program, which helps advance U.S. exports and international trade, is administered by NASBITE International (NASBITE), a non-profit and ITA strategic partner.  Launched in 2005, the NASBITE CGBP provides a benchmark for competency in global commerce by certifying an individual’s ability to conduct international business at the professional level across four main categories:

  • Global Business Management
  • Global Marketing
  • Supply Chain Management
  • Trade Finance

These categories capture the key challenges facing SMEs in today’s highly competitive global business environment.

To become a CGBP, a candidate must pass a three-hour exam comprising 150 multiple-choice questions, and have completed two years of either college-level study or work in global commerce.

NASBITE CGBP – Certified Global Business Professional – Credential Logo

NASBITE CGBP – Certified Global Business Professional – Credential Logo

Since 2005, ITA has used the CGBP credential program to enhance the ability of its employees to assist American SME exporters in accessing global markets.  The CGBP credential enables ITA team members to diversify their skills and stay abreast of the ever-changing aspects of international trade.  To date, almost 2,000 professionals worldwide, including several hundred ITA trade specialists and commercial officers, have been awarded the CGBP credential.

The three-day workshop was facilitated by NASBITE Past President, Jim Foley, who is currently serving as the Director of the Illinois SBDC International Trade Center at Bradley University and as the National Co-Chair of the International Trade Committee of America’s SBDC, which represents a nationwide network of approximately 1,000 SBDCs.  ITA co-facilitated the workshop’s trade finance session and helped participants learn about the methods of payment and export finance options described in the U.S. Commerce Department’s Trade Finance Guide.

In addition to the annual CGBP Preparation Training Workshop, the University of Missouri International Trade Center actively collaborates with ITA’s two local U.S. export assistance centers in St. Louis and Kansas City to assist Missouri-based SMEs with export planning and foreign market sales.  The Center won the 2016 President’s “E” Award for Export Service in recognition of its dedication to supporting Missouri SMEs in understanding the export process and entering new international markets.

In 2016, Missouri’s $14 billion in goods exports helped contribute to the $2.21 trillion of U.S. goods and services exports. In 2015, nearly 88,000 U.S. jobs were supported by goods exports from Missouri.  In 2014, over 5,000 SMEs in Missouri exported their goods to global markets, accounting for 85 percent of Missouri goods exporters.

With the new knowledge gained from the three-day workshop at the University of Missouri, participants, who are ready to take the next step in obtaining the CGBP credential, are now more equipped to enter, grow, and succeed in global markets!

Do you need more info on how to become a CGBP?

Visit the NASBITE website at http://nasbite.org.

Do you want to learn more about how to enter, grow, and succeed in global markets?

Visit the U.S. government’s export portal at https://www.export.gov.