WASHINGTON _ The Entrepreneurs Coalition, a group of six non-profit organizations that includes the Biotechnology IndustryOrganization (BIO) and the National Venture Capital Association(NVCA), unveiled its election-year manifesto here on Tuesday. The185-page "Entrepreneurial Agenda" was designed to serve as aninspiration and a prod to federal candidates seeking office in 1996.(See BioWorld Today, June 14, 1996, p. 1.)

Although many of the individual items on this entrepreneurial wishlist are quite familiar to politicians, the coalition is clearly hoping thatthe frenzy and fear of campaigning will induce candidates to committhemselves to this agenda _ and then be held accountable. The inch-thick agenda even offers a "model speech" for candidates to deliver,with appropriate blank spots for campaigners to insert heart-warminglocal or regional tales of entrepreneurial glory.

But the bulk of the agenda provides statistics and analysis to back upmany of the claims that entrepreneurs are a major engine of the U.S.economy and that reforms in key policy areas are needed. "There hasbeen no shortage of good intentions and lip service from bothpolitical parties, but now it is time to drill down to the details of anentrepreneurs agenda," said BIO president Carl Feldbaum.

Distributed to all candidates, from President Clinton and presidentialhopeful Bob Dole on down, the agenda outlines seven key issues forcandidates to address in their campaign speeches and, if elected, toimplement. The seven issues are: intellectual property protection;education, employment and training; funding for basic research andtechnology transfer; tax structure and incentives; legal reform;international competitiveness; and financial markets regulation.

Making Promises To Follow Through

Candidates who endorse the Entrepreneurs Agenda will "pledge" to"fully and promptly" implement it once elected. The document goesso far as to stipulate the appointment of an "Assistant to the Presidentfor Entrepreneurial and Emerging Industry Affairs" to ensure that theadministration's policy and actions are consistent with the agenda andto insure entrepreneurial firms have access to senior White Housepolicy makers.

The premise of the agenda is that "the Federal government can servethe national interest by taking actions which support an economic andsocial environment which enables entrepreneurs and entrepreneurialfirms to create and grow emerging companies and industries." Thereport then lists eight specific legislative and regulatory initiatives toachieve that goal.

The protection of intellectual property rights is at the top of theentrepreneurs' list of priorities for Congress and the administration.The agenda calls for the vigorous implementation and enforcement ofmultilateral and bilateral trade agreements to protect the intellectualproperty rights of American firms. It asks for increased resources toensure that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and the U.S.Copyright Office have the legal authority, budget and staff resourcesto promptly and effectively examine and grant patents and to improvethe databases of prior art and the expertise of examiners.

In addition, the Entrepreneurs Coalition wants legislators (and futurelegislators) to assure that patent applicants cannot intentionally delaythe issuance of a patent to "submarine" an industry and that diligentapplicants do not lose patent term under the new 20 year-from-filingGeneral Agreement on Tariffs and Trade implementation legislationdue to government delays beyond their control. The agenda furtherdemands that legislators pursue international agreements that wouldallow countries to recognize the validity of and resolve disputes withrespect to patents, copyrights and trademarks granted in othercountries without requiring separate applications.

Education, employment and job training also are top priorities of theentrepreneurial agenda for 1996. The report calls for a re-engineeringof public education for grades K-12 and of worker training programs.It also suggests that Congress consider tax incentives or otherfinancing options to spur deeper investment in education and training.

Group Urges Enactment Of Capital Gains Incentives

In the area of tax structure changes, the entrepreneurs are urgingenactment of a broad-based capital gains incentive and legislation tomake the existing Research and Experimentation Tax Creditpermanent. "The Congress and Administration should enact taxincentives for long-term, patient capital formation for entrepreneursand entrepreneurial firms to fund research and development and tobring new technologies and products to market," states the agenda.

The agenda further calls for an amendment to the "change ofownership" rules for net operating tax loss carry-forwards that wouldprotect entrepreneurial firms when they obtain capital from newinvestors through stock offerings, mergers or acquisitions.

The Entrepreneurs Coalition wants legislators to maintain andstrengthen immigration policies which will insure that U.S.entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial firms are able to recruittechnologically sophisticated workers as legal immigrants to maintainU.S. competitiveness in the global marketplace.

Finally, in the area of financial markets regulation, the agenda callsfor enactment of uniform laws and Securities and ExchangeCommission (SEC) regulations that will make it easier and cheaperfor privately held companies to conduct initial public offerings,consistent with investor protection. Specific changes cited includeminimizing legal and accounting requirements for companies andreducing SEC fees and document filing requirements.

In addition to BIO and the NVCA, the Entrepreneurs Coalitionincludes the NASDAQ Stock Market, the Council of GrowingCompanies, American Entrepreneurs for Economic Growth, and theSoftware Publishers Association. Taken together, the sixorganizations represent more than 14,200 member companiesengaged in high-technology businesses. Each organizationcontributed $2,500 and staff time to the development of the agendadocument. The Entrepreneurs Coalition will not make any cashcontributions to specific candidates in 1996. n

-- Lisa Piercey Special To BioWorld Today

(c) 1997 American Health Consultants. All rights reserved.