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EDA: Supporting Innovation Strategies in the City of Brotherly Love

Guest blog post by Acting Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Matt Erskine

America's future economic growth and global competitiveness depend on our capacity to innovate, and the way forward in winning the future is by doing what America does best-investing in the creativity and imagination of our people.

Because innovation is key to our economy-creating new high wage, high quality jobs for American's working families the the Obama administration is committed to providing businesses and workers with the tools and resources they need to drive innovation and ensure our economy is built to last.

In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania the U.S. Commerce Department's Economic Development Administration (EDA) is supporting bottom-up strategies to help entrepreneurs and small business owners put their ideas into action to grow the region's economic ecosystem and create new jobs.

A key example of this type of innovation investment can be found at The University City Science Center, which I visited today. The Science Center is the oldest and largest urban research park in the United States.

In April, 2011, EDA invested $1 million to support the Science Center's QED Proof-of-Concept Funding Program, the nation's first multi-institutional proof-of-concept program for life science technologies.

The QED Program is fueling innovation-based growth in the region. When I toured the Science Center facility, it was evident that the QED Program is providing critical funding and business development support for academic researchers developing early-stage technologies with high commercial potential by integrating four elements that are critical to successfully and efficiently performing early-stage proof-of-concept technology assessments: business advice, market drivers, grant funding and guidance to exit.

The Enterprise Center Community Development Corporation of Philadelphia, which I also visited today, is where a $1.5 million EDA investment is helping to establish the Center for Culinary Enterprises (CCE). When opened in September, the CCE will be one of the nation's most comprehensive commercial kitchen centers, designed to be an innovation engine for creating food-related jobs and businesses, and to provide resources to emerging food entrepreneurs in Philadelphia.

As President Obama has said, "We are a nation of strivers and climbers and entrepreneurs—the hardest-working people on Earth."

These critical EDA investments shine a spotlight on how the Obama administration is working to support our best scientists, researchers and entrepreneurs, so that they innovate here, they make things here in America, and they create good paying, high quality jobs for middle class families.

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Kristen Fitch

Senior Director, Marketing