Thanks to Bob Coleman of the Coleman Report for flagging this report by the SBA’s Office of Advocacy, the federal agency that is responsible for reviewing proposed federal regulations to assess their potential impact on small businesses and make recommendations to reduce excessive regulatory burdens.

In this January 2015 report Advocacy “identified barriers and challenges specific to small companies attempting to commercialize a breakthrough technology product or service and grow their firms.” Advocacy talked to everybody involved in this process: “companies, researchers, government agencies, universities, venture capitalists, lawyers, crowdfunders, consultants, trade groups, incubators and other support organizations in the additive manufacturing innovation ecosystem.”

Small businesses are always recognized as essential to innovation and thus creating new jobs.  So it is revealing that in today’s politically charged atmosphere in which regulations are blamed for almost every economic problem and even when there is no problem, the federal agency charged with identifying and opposing harmful regulations found no actual regulatory obstruction to small business innovation.

Below are the 11 barriers Advocacy did find as problems along the “innovation process timeline”:

  • Student debt: The amount of student debt held by graduating students prevents them from pursuing entrepreneurial opportunities.
  • Increased R&D: The amount of funding and support of research and development in the United States needs to increase.
  • Identifying market needs: Entrepreneurs often lack information regarding market needs and product research and development efforts.
  • Shortage of engineering and job production talent: There is a general consensus among technology firms that there is a shortage of engineering and production job talent which can slow company growth.
  • Capital access: Access to capital still impedes small business growth.
  • Difficulty commercializing products: Many small companies have difficulty commercializing (i.e. begin to sell to market) their technology products.
  • Technology diffusion and adoption: Technology diffusion and adoption is more difficult for small businesses.
  • New technology implementation costs: High equipment costs are a barrier to entry for small businesses implementing new technologies.
  • Lack of small business opportunities: Small companies want the government to make a stronger effort to buy more goods and services from them.
  • Legal uncertainty: Technology innovations often result in regulatory uncertainty and legal challenges.
  • Exporting: Small companies continue to face challenges exporting their products and services.

Source: The Small Business Advocate, March-April 2015

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