Just Say "No" to Free Agency

Just Say "No" to Free Agency
Dear AUTM member:

It was two years ago when we first saw a proposal from the Kauffman Foundation referencing a concept that is now referred to as "free agency." It appeared in a memo to the Department of Commerce and Harvard Business Review. Arun Pradhan, as AUTM president at the time, 
wrote an excellent response to Commerce and we saw very little activity around the concept for some time. Last December Senators Moran (KS) and Warner (VA) introduced S. 1965, The Startup Act, to the Senate. This bill is a good one—providing much needed support to accelerate the formation of startups and removes some unnecessary hurdles. However, there is one area, Section 7, which AUTM cannot support. Section 7 re-introduces the concept of free agency. I’ll let you read the bill for yourself.

In addition, Kauffman has now launched a
Startup Act for The States. This puts free agency up as its first proposal and lashes out at the SBIR program and research parks.

AUTM has been actively watching the progress of S.1965 (it has been referred to the Senate Finance Committee and has yet to be taken up there) and has worked with our colleagues at AAU, APLU and COGR to write
alternative language for Section 7. The alternative language has been sent to Senators Moran and Warner as well as Rep. Chobat (OH) who is considering drafting companion legislation for the House. We continue to strategize with these higher ed associations and BIO and AURP as the Startup Act for the States makes its way into governor’s offices and state legislatures. This month the AUTM Board adopted a position statement on free agency

Now we are asking you to take action. Please review the materials available in the 
No Free Agency resource center on the AUTM website and then setup meetings with your federal relations officers and vice presidents for research. Educating your colleagues on the dangers of free agency is a critical component to ensuring the proposal vanishes for good. I also strongly urge you and your institution to use social media tools to spread the word. AUTM has a section for blogs on its website which is available to all members. And there are myriad other appropriate blogging sites to discuss this issue. Letters to the editor of your local newspaper, tweets, and conversations on LinkedIn should be used by all of us—the key is mass messaging!

We hope you’ll find the resource center we’ve setup to be helpful. You can use and distribute any of the documents and our 
No Free Agency graphic as you need to. Please feel free to share your own position papers, links, etc. with us by emailing them to Jodi Talley at jtalley@autm.net and we’ll add them to the resource center.

Thank you for taking action.

Sincerely,

Todd Sherer
AUTM President
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