A lot has been said about the importance of innovation, and the role it plays in helping businesses, from the one-person startup to multinational corporations. The U.S. government is constantly engaging to support innovation, from local programs to global events; in fact, I’ll be traveling to the Global Entrepreneurship Summit this week, where entrepreneurs from around the world will meet to discuss their innovations and how to grow.
On November 17, I had the wonderful opportunity to launch a brand new and significant program -- one that will spur innovation and growth through one-on-one connections and collaboration. The U.S.-Poland Innovation Program (PLUS-IP) will connect U.S. business, academics, and organization leaders with their Polish counterparts to support innovation through joint ventures and combined research and development. It’s a model that we’ve seen work in the past, such as the successful U.S.-Mexican Entrepreneurship and Innovation Council (MUSEIC).
PLUS-IP couldn’t have come at a better time. When the President spoke in Warsaw this past June, he said, “As you drive through Warsaw, you see that Poland is a country on the move, one with one of the largest and fastest-growing economies in Europe, a manufacturing powerhouse, and a hub of high-tech innovation.” Poland is on the move, and U.S. businesses and institutions are in the mix. Poland is the United States’ largest commercial partner in Central Europe, and the United States is one of the top sources of foreign investment in Poland. Over the past ten years, our bilateral trace quadrupled, American companies invested more than $20 billion in Poland, and more than 180,000 Poles gained employment directly from U.S. companies.
With so much already happening, how can we further promote this growth? That’s the idea behind PLUS-IP, which will work to help turn research into commercial reality. PLUS-IP’s goal is to create innovative partnerships to share tools and best practices. The program focuses on some key sectors, including defense, energy, health, and science and technology and, at its core, this bi-national platform is about collaboration through the open exchange of ideas. In the United States, those ideas come from all over the country. The program will strengthen the ties of our regional innovation clusters and connect them to existing and new clusters in Poland.
Along with one-on-one collaboration, we’re working together to remove obstacles to doing business. Creating environments where start-ups and innovation can thrive means protecting intellectual property rights, implementing smart taxation policy, and having good corporate governance and technology transfer. Those are just some of the values we fight for. They promote innovation, and they support businesses at every stage, from one-person startups to multinational corporations.
In the Office of Commercial and Business Affairs, we promote innovation worldwide, and PLUS-IP is just one of many ongoing and upcoming initiatives supported by the Department of State that helps American business overseas. Innovation is a driving force for global human progress, and the shared gains from international innovation initiatives help to establish a more peaceful, cooperative, and prosperous world.
I am looking forward to the many fruitful projects PLUS-IP will generate and to meeting some of the budding entrepreneurs and innovators it will support. We all know that working together is the surest way of making progress on any endeavor -– working together with Poland, I’m confident that we will make great progress.