Congressman Jared Huffman

Representing the 2nd District of California

Reps. Huffman & Thompson Look to Spur Innovation, Host Discussion with Local Business Leaders

Apr 8, 2016
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Reps. Jared Huffman (CA-2) and Mike Thompson (CA-5) yesterday hosted U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo (CA-18) for a roundtable with innovative local business leaders at Sonoma State University to discuss how Congress can better support and spur innovation locally and across the country. Yesterday’s discussion was one of many taking place around the country as House Democrats work to craft an Innovation Agenda 2.0.

The Innovation Agenda was first launched in 2007 by House Democrats with the goal of ensuring that our country remained the world’s leader of innovation. To develop that plan, Members of Congress held listening sessions to solicit ideas from local leaders on what the emerging areas in innovation are and how public-private partnerships and other initiatives can stimulate innovation and increase America’s competitiveness. Innovation Agenda 1.0 generated valuable policy ideas, 21 of which were translated into legislative provisions that were signed into law. Now, House Democrats have launched Innovation Agenda 2.0, to build on the progress made by the first Innovation Agenda. 

“In California, we’re fortunate to be surrounded by brilliant innovators, but we can never take this entrepreneurial spirt for granted,” said Rep. Huffman. “After seeing the many successes of Innovation Agenda 1.0, I was thrilled to join my colleagues in hosting the Innovation Agenda 2.0 event and hear ideas and suggestions from a diverse group of private sector leaders who are on the front line of innovation in my district and beyond.  By really putting our heads together and identifying how we can support sustained success, we can help unleash the creativity, vision and innovation that has always made America great and bring those forces to bear on many of today's most pressing problems -- addressing climate change, revitalizing education, expanding economic opportunities, ensuring clean, reliable water supplies, and much more.”

“We must ensure that America continues to lead the world in innovation”, said Rep. Thompson. “And to do that, we need to make sure we’re fostering the right environment to allow for the next big breakthrough or technological revolution. And that’s what the Innovation Agenda is all about. Many thanks to my co-hosts and colleagues Jared Huffman and Anna Eshoo and all of our innovative local business leaders for joining in this effort.”

“Eliminating barriers to innovation in the electricity sector is fundamental to our business and for making the grid more reliable, secure, clean and cost effective for consumers.  Innovation Agenda 2.0 is an excellent and necessary platform for discussing transformative ideas with the nation’s decision makers which can result in having profound effects on our economy, national and global well-being,” said Jason Simon, Director of Policy Strategy at Enphase Energy. “We are delighted Reps. Huffman, Thompson and Eshoo provided this important opportunity to share big ideas in a venue that has already proven to result in positive economic and societal change.”

"Big ideas combined with smart public policies are essential for our economy and its workforce," said Rep. Eshoo. “Today's event is about thought leaders and innovators in California's 2nd and 5th Congressional Districts contributing to the national effort of House Democrats to shape an Innovation Agenda that will ensure our workforce is the most competitive and innovative and keep America #1 in the 21st century.”

“We must not forget agriculture and food production in the “innovation” discussion.  Wastewater treatment, for instance, is an exciting technology area for farmers and cheese makers because it can both produce energy and reduce water use.  I thank Representatives Huffman, Thompson, and Eshoo for holding this important discussion,” said Sue Conley, Co-founder of Cow Girl Creamery.

“This roundtable was incredible and inspirational. The Bay Area has so many innovative ideas--from large companies like Google to small businesses, the success we are realizing here, can be successful anywhere in the world…” said Jim Happ, President of Labcon.

Aaron Newcomb of Benicia Makerspace said, “I was really impressed with the Representatives willingness to host and event like this.  It is so crucial for our economy and our educational system.  For them to take the time out of their day to come and listen to some of these brilliant people on what can drive the economy forward, it’s fantastic, it really is. This event should happen more often, perhaps on an annual basis.”  

“I think for a small company like mine to be invited to a meeting with three Representatives of Congress and other innovation leaders in our community is, to me,  innovation in itself, and an example of why I am so optimistic about the future.  While everyone seems to be talking about negative things, there are a lot of positive things that are happening that don’t get the recognition they should – perhaps they aren’t newsworthy. But they are important.  Yesterday’s meeting is an example of what I think is an important and positive step in improving our country’s ability to compete globally and to help the whole country grow together,” said Bill Kreysler, of Kreysler & Associates.”

Success Stories from Innovation Agenda 1.0 include:

  • 671,585 new broadband Internet users connected by the Department of Commerce’s Broadband Technology Opportunities Program.
  • Dramatic increases in the usage of solar, wind, and renewable fuel technology
    • More solar was installed in 1 week in 2014, than was installed in all of 2006
    • More than a 300% increase in wind energy capacity since the beginning of 2007,
    • 18.1 billion gallons of domestic renewable fuel will be used in 2016, an increase from 7 billion gallons produced in 2007. 
  • $850 million in private investment for 34 of ARPA-E’s clean energy and efficiency technologies, building off only $135 million in earlier-stage federal investments.
  • Research and Development funding since 2006.
    • 49% increase in funding for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science.
    • 42% increase in funding for the National Institute of Standards and Technology
    • 34% increase in funding for the National Science Foundation. 
  • Spurred new manufacturing processes and technologies by putting America on a path to double funding for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), which leverages federal, state, and private dollars to help small and medium-sized manufacturers promote innovation.
  • Improved the small business loan program and revived the Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) program.  Modernized the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program by cutting red tape, reducing the lag time between the award phases, and providing additional funding for the commercialization phase.