Governor McAuliffe launches Governor’s Council on Youth Entrepreneurship

Governor-McAuliffeGovernor Terry McAuliffe on Monday signed Executive Order 47 establishing the Governor’s Council on Youth Entrepreneurship, which shall be responsible for coordinating and implementing youth entrepreneurship initiatives and fostering the growth of the entrepreneurial ecosystem for young people in Virginia.

“The foundation of the new Virginia economy rests on the strength of Virginia’s young people,” said Governor McAuliffe.  “This Council will work to grow the Commonwealth’s innovation ecosystem and ensure that Virginia is the best state in the nation for young people to innovate, create, and start a business.”

The Council, which will be co-chaired by Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones, will include student entrepreneurs and leaders from education, business and startup communities. Working with higher education and other public and private sector resources, the Council will conduct a comprehensive assessment of current local, state and federal programs and services available to young entrepreneurs, connect local business leaders and job creators with young entrepreneurs to help grow ecosystems in their communities and provide recommendations to support the goals and priorities of the Council.

“Entrepreneurism is a vital strategy for job and economic growth in the Commonwealth,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones.  “In order to attract the best and brightest talent to Virginia, we need to create an ecosystem that fosters entrepreneurism and innovation.  This Council is another step in achieving that goal.”

The Council is the outgrowth of several roundtables and meetings Governor McAuliffe and his Administration held with student innovators and higher education faculty to learn about the challenges and opportunities facing young entrepreneurs in Virginia.  As a result of these discussions, Governor McAuliffe identified the following initial priorities for the Council:

  1. Expand students’ intellectual property (IP) rights – The Council shall work with Boards of Visitors, administrators and faculty at institutions of higher education to craft policies that give students more rights over their own research and IP.
  2. Promote the formation of collaborative spaces for entrepreneurs and students to meet – Entrepreneurs consistently cite physical space as a priority in deciding where to start a business.  The Council shall work with partners in education and business to identify opportunities for expanded space for entrepreneurs and students to collaborate.
  3. Encourage schools to offer courses in entrepreneurship that are easily accessible to all students and to integrate innovation into the curriculum – The Council shall evaluate strategies to further integrate entrepreneurship into classroom environments and curricula in higher education and work to ensure that entrepreneurship courses are accessible to all students regardless of their concentration of study.
  4. Identify ways for colleges and universities to award academic credit to students for starting a business – The Council shall work with Boards of Visitors, administrators and faculty to determine criteria for awarding academic credit to students for starting a business, similar to existing policies awarding academic credit for an internship, independent study or co-op, to allow students to remain in school on a graduation track while still pursuing business ventures.
  5. Remove unnecessary costs for students starting a business in Virginia – The Council shall consider ways to remove regulations and fees that create unnecessary burdens or obstacles for individuals who are starting a new business.

The Council will work closely with institutions of higher education and other state agencies to make progress toward achieving these priorities, while supporting opportunities to advance research, innovation and commercialization at Virginia’s colleges and universities.

Expanding entrepreneurial enterprises in Virginia has been a top priority of Governor McAuliffe and his Administration.  Governor McAuliffe’s “New Virginia Economy” Strategic Economic Development Plan identified entrepreneurism as one of the five key pillars for growth in Virginia.  In June, Governor McAuliffe launched Virginia Velocity, a first-class business plan competition designed to encourage entrepreneurs in key sectors to bring their ideas and grow their businesses in Virginia.  The Council is the next step to further catalyze Virginia’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.

The initial report of the Council’s assessments and recommendations is due to the Governor no later thanDecember 1, 2015.


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