Innovation Can Help Narrow the Wealth Gap: MBEs Own Just as Many Patents as Nonminority-Owned Firms

Nov232016

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For the first time, the Census Bureau has collected information about ownership of intellectual property in its 2012 Survey of Business Owners (SBO). We now have data to verify what we’ve known for some time—minority business owners are innovative and forward thinking. Based on 2012 SBO results, minority-owned firms equal the rate of patent ownership of nonminority firms. For both groups, one half of one percent of businesses own one or more patents.

When you look closer at both groups (minority and nonminority firms), it appears that a huge disparity exists. Average earnings for minority-owned firms that own patents are $2.1 million per year, compared to $8.1 million for their non-minority counterparts.

However, when looking a little closer, the data reveals that the gap is not as wide as it appears. In fact, for firms with annual revenue between $25K and $100K, minority-owned firms exceed the average earnings of nonminority-owned firms. Taking a closer look at earnings by revenue size, minority-owned firms exceed or equal the rate of patent ownership for every earnings group. The disparity is not as great when it comes to earnings. The table below contains comparisons for a number of indicators by revenue size:

Annual Receipts

% of Minority Firms

% of Nonminority Firms

% of Minority Firms with Employees

% of Nonminority Firms with Employees

Average Earnings for Minority Firms

Average Earnings for Nonminority Firms

less than $5,000

0.5

0.3

1.3

0.4

$2,417

$2,355

$5,000 to $9,999

0.4

0.3

0.3

0.7

$6,786

$6,704

$10,000 to $24,999

0.4

0.3

0.1

0.3

$14,203

$16,486

$25,000 to $49,999

0.5

0.3

0.6

0.3

$36,328

$35,292

$50,000 to $99,999

0.4

0.4

0.4

0.4

$72,658

$70,567

$100,000 to $249,999

0.5

0.4

0.6

0.5

$154,851

$165,390

$250,000 to $499,999

0.7

0.6

0.7

0.7

$335,021

$355,715

$500,000 to $999,999

0.7

0.8

0.8

0.9

$696,526

$715,657

$1,000,000 or more

2.1

2.8

2.1

2.9

$15,418,074

$24,837,289


MBDA Is Making Wise Investments

Now that we have the data to support innovative skills of minority business owners and entrepreneurs, we must ensure that these businesses continue to grow; and that our nation’s youth are prepared for and have the resources to launch tomorrow’s Fortune 500 companies. My agency, the Minority Business Development Agency, is focused on building a better tomorrow by creating the economic conditions that support and encourage inclusive innovation and entrepreneurship.

MBDA launched new programs to expose MBEs to Federal Government technology transfer programs, typically referred to as “T2,” “lab-to-market,” and most recently “inclusive innovation.”

What is Technology Transfer?

The Federal Government invents things and owns thousands of patents. Since those inventions and patents were developed with taxpayer money, they belong to the public. Taxpayers also pay for the laboratories, scientists, equipment, and much more. But the government does not manufacture the new and trendy products/services that drive our economy. Therefore, it is crucial that those resources get into the hands of business owners and entrepreneurs who can.

The Census Bureau estimates that in 2012, 17,258 MBEs owned one or more patents.

The Business Benefits

Technology transfer programs offer:

  • access to patents that were developed or funded by the government;
  • use of a federal laboratory to develop or test a concept;
  • visiting scientists to assist businesses perfect an idea or process; and
  • funding to develop, manufacture, and market new products.

Popular Products Developed in Federal Laboratories

Memory foam (remember the mattress you can jump on without spilling a glass of wine) was developed by NASA to reduce shock impact during space shuttle launches. Siri, one of the main features of Apple iOS, is based on an invention designed to help military leaders manage information overload. GPS, Willow, and even the Internet were developed with taxpayer dollars.

Whether you own a business or a patent, have a patent pending, or have an idea worth exploring, it’s worth the your time to watch this 2-minute video explaining the many ways to leverage Federal Government ideas, inventions, facilities, and even scientists to grow your business or get your idea off the ground. For more information about federal technology transfer programs, go to http://www.mbda.gov/inclusiveinnovation.

Infographic: Inclusive Innovation in Action

“Our Agency is focused on building a better tomorrow by creating the economic conditions that support and encourage inclusive innovation and entrepreneurship.”
—Alejandra Y. Castillo, National Director
Minority Business Development Agency

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Last updated: 04/19/2017 - 4:11pm