A summit for military members looking to profit from their own ideas

There is an event later today, if you are looking to start a business. It is focusing on entrepreneurship for members of the military or their spouses.

There is an event later today, if you are looking to start a business. It is focusing on entrepreneurship for members of the military or their spouses. Joining that summit will be the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. To learn more, Federal News Network’s Eric White talked on the Federal Drive with Tom Temin with Derrick Brent, deputy undersecretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property, and deputy director at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Interview Transcript:

Derrick Brent Well, thank you very much, Eric, for having me here. And it’s our pleasure to not just participate in this event, but it’s our pleasure to meet with you today.

Eric White Yeah. Give us an overview of what’s happening today. Tell us a little bit about this event. And who’s involved?

Derrick Brent Sure. Well, this is the military entrepreneurship summit. I believe this is the ninth time that we’ve hosted this event. And we are partnering up with our federal family members, Small Business Administration. We’re looking forward to bringing resources and sharing information with members of the military community, also their spouses, and also to veterans out there. So I think this is a very important and collaborative event that is designed to provide education and information. And I think we’ll be valuable.

Eric White Did you say this is the ninth time that you all are hosting this?

Derrick Brent Yes, so this is the agency’s ninth military entrepreneurship program, but it is actually our first one that is in the Capital region. And so it’s become a very good program for us.

Eric White Yeah. And so can you tell me about if this is, personally you participating in the event itself? Is this also your first time? And how did this all come together? How did it get started? If you can give me a little background on it.

Derrick Brent Sure. For me, this is the first time, and this will be my first time participating in one of these programs. How did it all come together? I think the best way to describe it is that we’ve had, especially over the last year and a half or more, a real push on inclusive innovation. And as part of that inclusive innovation push to bring more entrepreneurs into the system, we looked at our nation’s military, where we have inventors, a lot of experience, the military spouses who are also, being an entrepreneur, being a small business owner is a great way to have a portable job that you can take with you as you move around on different deployments. So that’s another community we look to bring in. And obviously the veterans, which we have been very proud to support at our agency. So looking at that, what we sought to bring all of these communities into the entrepreneurship and into the innovation, ecosystem. And so we started outreach and we started meeting people where they were we started doing programs on bases. And then at the same time, we decided that, like in this case, we decided to host one ourselves at the agency.

Eric White We’re speaking with Derrick Brent. He’s deputy undersecretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and deputy director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. So what role specifically does USPTO play in sparking that innovation and harboring the kind of inventiveness that you just described, specifically tailored to the military? I know this is your first one, but if you could give me just a couple examples of military entrepreneurs who have worked with the USPTO in the past and gotten far enough to actually getting their products out in the market.

Derrick Brent Absolutely. So the short answer is our role is to make sure that we provide information and knowledge about our resources, but also because of our unique position, we’re very much inside of the innovation ecosystem. And when I say innovation, I don’t want folks to just think about innovation as being only tech gadgets or  things. Every small business, every type of small business is bringing some type of innovation into the ecosystem. You could be designing a product that is a home supply product. As I give you a couple of examples here, you’ll see the things that solve everyday problems are very much so a part of the innovation ecosystem. So we bring resources, we bring knowledge. And then we also work with our federal partners, because the force multiplier for our military entrepreneurs, their spouses and veterans is going to be when it’s not just the USPTO and we’re talking about intellectual property, it’s going to be the Small Business Administration, it’s going to be the Department of Defense when we all sort of coordinate our resources and we bring that bring those resources and opportunity to folks, we allow things to grow. So a couple quick examples of folks. Anderson Camp and Matt Simple we’re serving in the US Navy, and then we’re having a difficult time, due to the deployment, because in having fresh water and being able to shave. So they were able to take their experience, also solving their own everyday problem and to develop a razor. And part of what has helped them to start on their entrepreneurship journey is that they heard Director Vidal are the director of the agency, and a number of panelists speak on strategies for entrepreneurs learning how to start that journey in the system. So you have, there you go you have someone who has an everyday problem. I’m going to say one more person, Ruth Young Liza, who’s a military spouse. And I think this is a very good one. So from her experience, she had been a housekeeper for 24 years, and one of the things that she knew was how much time it took to make a bed. And so she designed a set of sheets that actually decrease the amount of time that you need and you need to put in making a making a bed. And then what helped her along her journey was she learned a process of acquiring intellectual property for her products and brands. And now she’s been granted three U.S. Patents and also three international patents. So again, bringing the information and knowledge of these folks to these folks has helped them along their journey and intellectual property, whether it’s patents, trademarks, copyrights, whatever type of intellectual property it is, forms that bridge to the marketplace, and it helps these folks get into the marketplace.

Eric White She must have had a wide market there at a base where everybody is forced to make their bed every morning. Yes, that’s probably a very good idea. Let’s get back into the event itself. If you can just tell me about some of the discussions that will be taking place today and just some of the major highlights and folks who will be speaking.

Derrick Brent Sure. The event will feature remarks by both the director and I believe the secretary will be giving remarks. Those will be by those will be recorded remarks. But nevertheless, they’re sharing what the event means for us. We will also have opening remarks from Ashish Vazirani from the Department of Defense. And we will also have remarks from Dillard side who is with the SBA. So I think we have a full complement here. And again, and the idea is and is in terms of topics, the Department of Defense is going to talk about what they’re doing to foster entrepreneurship amongst the community. The SBA is going to be talking about the resources that can give you not just a start, but also resources that help you. And this is a, I think a really important point, Eric, resources that help you along the journey. So it’s not just a start. Everybody sort of thinks about the SBA. It’s like, oh, can I get that small business loan or can I get that small business grant? That’s just it. The SBA has programs, mentoring and education that goes along the entrepreneurship journey. So we will have a member from the SBA community who will also be joining us, as I mentioned. Let me let me close with this. This is an important program, not just for us. It’s more of, as the legendary Jackie Robinson said, it’s about the impact that you have on others. And this is really a chance for us to have a major impact on a community that has given so much to each of us. And I think that’s very important. I’ll just close out with one stat to show you how important this community is to our country and our economy. It’s actually three stats, but I’ll call it all together one. And that is that you have to understand, the U.S. veterans own nearly 2 million businesses. They employ 5 million Americans, and those businesses generate nearly $1 trillion in revenue. So this is not small potatoes. This is actually this is significant. And the more we grow it, the better our country is going to be for multiple reasons. So thank you very much for having us. And I think this event is just another step in the road of collaborative working.

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