Event led by Commerce Department, USPTO provides information to help veterans start businesses

Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo recently joined Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO Kathi Vidal at Hanscom Air Force Base, Massachusetts, for an Entrepreneurship Essentials Workshop and Resource Fair.

More than 100 military personnel, military spouses, and veterans attended in-person—with hundreds more online—as they heard from experts in business development and intellectual property.

Successful military spouses and veteran entrepreneurs discussed how they started businesses, and the resources and tools that helped them. From honing a business plan to protecting a brand and ideas, to market analysis and financing, the event included tips and resources on every angle of entrepreneurship.

“We want to figure out how to get the resources that we have within the Commerce Department, including at the USPTO, to assist veterans and their families,” Secretary Raimondo said.

President Biden signed an executive order in June to boost the economic and career prospects for military spouses and veterans, including service members approaching retirement.

Secretary Raimondo wants the department to help veterans and their loved ones start businesses.

She pointed out that the unemployment rate among military spouses is approximately 22 percent—much higher than the national unemployment average. Starting small businesses can help to reduce that spousal unemployment rate while providing flexibility for veterans and their families.

Also during the half-day event, Director Vidal noted the success Hanscom has had with its Pitch It program. It consolidates a wide range of technology market research functions, eliminating duplication and easing the pathway to public-private innovation.

These efforts align with First Lady Jill Biden and the White House’s Joining Forces Initiative, which centers on employment and entrepreneurship; military child education; and health and well-being. The USPTO is working to support transitioning service members, military family members, and veterans to bring their innovations to life, build businesses, and protect their creations’ IP.

The “bottom line is, we want to help you, we want to help you start a business, we want to help you grow your IP,” Secretary Raimondo told the military audience. “All the resources at the Commerce Department are available to you.”

Throughout the United States, veterans own nearly 2 million businesses that employ more than 5.2 million Americans, according to U.S. Census figures. At the USPTO, almost 10 percent of its 13,000-member workforce is comprised of veterans. Director Vidal’s father was a veteran and an entrepreneur.

If you are affiliated with the military and interested in starting your own businesses, visit uspto.gov/initiatives/entrepreneurship-resources-military-community or contact [email protected].