With public policy as a core tenet of BioSTL’s work to drive St. Louis’ innovation economy, Ben Johnson, Vice President of Programs, has been invited to testify before the United States Congress about the programs and federal investments in innovation that foster entrepreneurship, create jobs, and lead to breakthroughs for humankind.
On behalf of BioSTL, Johnson serves as Chairman of the Innovation Advocacy Council (IAC), a national organization cofounded by BioSTL, to inform and educate policymakers and elected officials to grow our innovation economy through federal legislation, programs, and funding that support practitioners on the ground. The IAC is the policy arm of SSTI, a national nonprofit focused on innovation-based economic development.
In his IAC Chairman role, Johnson will discuss innovation, commercialization, and entrepreneurship as drivers for economic growth and prosperity for all Americans, using his direct knowledge and involvement of how these levers impact St. Louis bioscience companies fueled by BioSTL.
That includes building new homegrown startups and attracting innovation from across the globe to our region; harnessing innovation and entrepreneurship to build a wholly inclusive ecosystem; and bridging urban and rural economies.
At Noon CST on July 14, 2021, Johnson will address the U.S. House, Committee on Small Business, Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Tax, and Capital Access.
The hearing, entitled “Innovation as a Catalyst for New Jobs: SBA’s Innovation Initiatives,” can be watched via livestream.
Johnson and other witnesses will urge congressional action to continue investments in locally designed strategies built around unique regional strengths that support the different needs of innovation-based businesses and complement other federal investments.
“The needs of innovation-based businesses are different from Main Street businesses, so we need scalable tools to help launch and sustain these new ideas and companies,” Johnson said. “Innovation and technology are key to creating high-quality jobs that result in a higher standard of living for all people in all communities; modernizing and diversifying a region’s economy to make it (and the US) more globally competitive; and cementing US leadership in solving domestic and global challenges – like feeding a growing population; curing disease and battling pandemic; addressing climate impacts; and ensuring national security.
“With the right kind of support, at the right time, the entrepreneurs and business owners of this country can and will bring products to market that solve customer and societal needs, and they will create economic opportunity for their communities.”
Much of the supports offered by BioSTL and its startup arm BioGenerator are fueled with help from federal funding. They include: business mentoring and counseling; fundraising and capital access; technology commercialization; and promoting linkages between small businesses and large businesses in the cluster.
Additional support and direction from Congress to continue programs such as the Small Business Administration’s Growth Accelerator Fund Competition and the Regional Innovation Clusters program will solidify and scale the impact of these programs on local organizations and new innovation companies.