Former State Department Official and noted entrepreneur Rebecca Taylor recently caught up with the Washington Post to discuss five tools she’s helped build or incorporate into the department’s operations that aim to improve.
Here is a summary of the five. Click here to read the full descriptions of each.
Idea to Product Competition
Universities and the agency hold competitions for teachers and students who are working in new technologies, which Taylor said is “the agency’s primary tool for finding very early-stage companies or even entrepreneurs with only a concept or idea they want to pitch.”
Innovation Arms Control Challenge
A yearly challenge that awards up to $10,000 to a winning company that is focused on data and mobile technologies to support “arms control verification procedures.”
In partnership with Nike and other government bodies, LAUNCH supports entrepreneurs who target sustainability challenges in areas including healthcare, energy and water treatment. NASA and USAID also participate in LAUNCH, which connects entrepreneurs with global experts in their fields.
“What’s so cool is that all four of these huge organizations discovered they had different but synergistic interests,” Taylor told the Post. “It has been incredibly effective.”
Defense Venture Catalyst Initiative
Taylor modeled a State program off this Defense Department initiative where the Pentagon helps venture capitalists understand their technology requirements and lets them bring in possible good start up matches who then compete for contracts. State has contracted around 12 firms through its initiative.
Taylor similarly approached Startup America, a partnership launched by the White House, that works to connect early-stage companies. State’s version lets “embassy officers around the world search for young companies that could provide the innovative products and services they need.”