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4 Big Ideas from Sen. Mark Warner on Creating Jobs, Promoting Innovation

Jamie Carracher, Sr. Manager, Web Content, Consumer Technology Association

Powerful new ideas that can change the world can be imagined anywhere, from a scientist’s lab to a college student’s dorm. But one sometimes overlooked but important fountain of innovation is Washington, D.C.
This week Senator Mark Warner (D-Va.) hosted a town hall discussion in CEA’s office, based in Arlington, Va. Warner, Virginia’s former governor and a successful tech entrepreneur who co-founded Nextel, shared how he is promoting innovation in the nation’s capital.
Here are four of his big ideas:
We need strategic immigration reform, and he is pushing it forward.

“Could you imagine a worse business policy and growth policy for the United States than the current immigration rules we have, where we train our world’s best and brightest and someone gets that PhD in engineering at Virginia Tech and he or she does not have to go back to Brazil or Denmark or India anymore, they simply have to go across the border to Canada because Canada, the U.K. and Australia have all changed their high-skilled immigration reform so that they get the folks that we now train? And with tech companies having global footprints, that is crazy.”

Crowd-funding will be transformative.

“On the capital standpoint, I still think with all the challenges we have in America, America still because of our fluid capital markets ranks head and shoulders above most other nations. But in the aftermath of the financial crisis, and me having spent years as a VC, a lot of the traditional funding sources for capital have changed… One of the things I think can be extraordinarily disruptive to capital access will be crowd-funding… There will be people who get it wrong on crowdfunding. We have to take that risk.”

Patent trolls are incredibly damaging to innovators, and it’s time for reform.

"As somebody who has invested in companies that were absolutely devastated by patent trolls, I have felt the pain. It used to be kind of ‘small guys versus big guys.’ That’s totally transformed. Now, patent trolls build up intellectual property as a weapon for litigation rather than a tool of innovation. That makes no sense… You’re going to hear my voice much louder on this issue.”

Underutilized spectrum must be made available to drive U.S. innovation.

“The fact is, America’s behind. You go to Korea, you go to Europe, and they’ve done a much better job at managing their spectrum. I think there’s a win-win here. Incentive auctions will give proceeds to broadcasters for migrating, while also freeing up additional spectrum for other commercial uses… We’ve got some other incentive auctions out there, but we’ve got to do some spectrum clearing to move existing operators into other spectrum. Most of the spectrum that we have right now is in the government’s hands.”

We want to say thank you again to Sen. Warner for his time this week. Check out more of his remarks in the video below: