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How to Build and Protect Intellectual Property with Uncle Sam

A sketch of Jean by blog post author Hoong Yee.

I love listening to smart women and being surrounded by many of them this weekend at the Americans for the Arts Convention in San Diego. There are ballrooms filled with people who are committed to working in the arts and with the arts to make life better.

Of course we know how the arts affect how we live together in this world. We are the arts people. However, I often forget that sometimes we need to think of ourselves as creative industries and creative exports especially when working in a global mindset.

After I stumbled out of the sunlight, properly caffeinated and ready to begin my conference blogging for the day, I  found myself in a session entitled, “Building Bridges: International Cultural Exchange” featuring two innovators, Jean A. Bonilla and Stephanie A. Madden.

The following is a brief summary of Jean’s points.

Jean Bonilla, Director of the Office of Intellectual Property Enforcement within the U.S. Department of State, made the case for innovation and how entrepreneurs contribute to the creation of jobs, economic opportunities, and the opening of markets which underlies President Obama’s call to double cultural exports by 2015.

I wondered what that meant. What is a cultural export and who decided that it is something so in demand that we should double what we export by 2015?

What the government recognizes and places great value upon is the key role of entrepreneurship. They seek to help young entrepreneurs build competitive products, build American presence overseas, attract funders, and protect their property. Some of the challenges entrepreneurs face are:

  1. risk
  2. lack of mentors, partners, and networks
  3. legal resources
  4. access to markets
  5. intellectual property protection

The federal government is concerned with global economics and uses its outposts — its embassies and diplomatic corps — to build bridges and cultural economic partners.

One of their initiatives is the North Africa Partnership for Economic Opportunity (NAPEO). This is a public and private partnership to connect entrepreneurs and business leaders in the United States and North Africa.

The five core initiatives include:

  1. connecting and networking young and emerging entrepreneurs in the Maghreb and investors in the United States.
  2. offering leadership, entrepreneurship training, and education-to-employment activities.
  3. incubating start-ups and new business ventures in innovative sectors
  4. supporting cultural entrepreneurs through linkages between artists and cultural professionals in the U.S. and North Africa  (This one made me sit up and smile a lot)
  5. conducting regional research and data collection with links to business schools in the U.S.

Jean pointed out that this sector is still poorly understood and that we need to know how to measure outcomes in creative enterprises, economic and cultural growth in nations. It is part of our country’s trade policy and programs to increase the presence of American companies abroad. There is great potential in linking leaders from diasporic populations in America to partners in home countries around the world.

I am optimistic that there are many valuable resources that Jean can tap, many sitting around the table listening to her speak.

Thanks to the Americans for the Arts ARTSblog for sharing this post. View the original.

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