Comstock praises House approval of bill to spur diversity in American entrepreneurship

The U.S. House of Representatives on Sept. 25 advanced bipartisan legislation based on a bill originally sponsored by U.S. Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-VA) that aims to level the patent playing field and grow entrepreneurship among women and minority-owned small businesses across the nation.

Rep. Comstock on July 16 introduced the bipartisan Study of Underrepresented Classes Chasing Engineering and Science Success (SUCCESS) Act of 2018, H.R. 6390, which would direct the administrator of the Small Business Administration (SBA) to study and identify best practices for closing the gender, race and income gap in patenting rates for certain small businesses, among other provisions, according to the text of the bill.

H.R. 6390 spurred the Sept. 10 introduction of the same-named H.R. 6758 by U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH), which the House amended and approved by voice vote last week and then referred to the U.S. Senate on Sept. 26 for consideration.

“Promoting greater diversity in our up and coming entrepreneurs is an important aspect in maintaining strong economic growth and ensuring that our innovation economy remains top-notch and competitive,” Rep. Comstock said in a Sept. 26 statement. “The SUCCESS Act is a tool that will help us close the gender, income and race gaps in patenting to increase the diversity of our entrepreneurs.”

According to the congresswoman’s office, women hold less than 20 percent of all patents, while racial minorities hold between 8 percent and 13 percent of patents, according to a 2017 study cited by her staff.

The SUCCESS Act would direct the SBA, in conjunction with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, to conduct a study that would identify best practices for closing the discrepancies in patenting rates for these small businesses, according to the lawmaker’s statement.

Additionally, the study would inform the development of federal policies aimed at supporting the nation’s underrepresented groups in entrepreneurial activities.

“The diversity of experience from these entrepreneurs will bring fresh leadership to the table as our small businesses build on their local success and help grow the local economy and bring local jobs to our communities,” said Rep. Comstock. “Women small-business owners and other underrepresented populations deserve a level playing field with larger enterprises in protecting their intellectual property and this bill will help achieve that goal.”

The House-approved H.R. 6758 has 10 cosponsors, including Rep. Comstock and Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA).