Delaware legislators are considering passing a Student Entrepreneur Fund bill that might encourage young people to start technology-based companies in the state. Delaware Senate Bill 112 would call for the spending of $2 million per year over the next three year. Funds would come from the state’s $10 million Delaware Strategic Fund.

Why Senators Feel the Student Entrepreneur Fund Needs Passing

Bill sponsor Senator Harris B. McDowell of Dover, Delaware, hopes that more young people would be encouraged to stay in the state. Many people have left the state recently because of the closing of two auto plants and the drastic downsizing of Dupont after their merger with Dow.

Intentions of the Student Entrepreneur Fund

In order to qualify for a grant from the fund, participants must first graduate from a Delaware college. Immigrants attending college in Delaware would be eligible to receive funding. Secondly, funds could be allocated to create new innovative technology companies in the state attracting younger talent. McDowell and other supporters of the bill also hope it will attract global entrepreneurs to the state who would work with the colleges located there. Finally, it is the intent of the bill to support those starting new companies by crowdsourcing with the local colleges.

Hopeful Outcomes

Delaware’s population is getting much older after two decades of the population getting younger. It is hoped that this fund may encourage young people to come to the state, go to college, start businesses and raise their family there. That way, the state’s tax revenue would naturally rise to support the older population.

What Startups would Receive Student Entrepreneur Funding?

Any startup receiving funding must promise to stay in the state for 10 years if they are successful. Over 90 percent of new startups fail, so many fear that this fund may be a waste of precious tax dollars. Others wonder if the fund is large enough since New York and other neighboring states have created similar programs.

Grant Approval Process

All applications for the grants would have to be approved by a committee before the idea receives any money. Serving on the committee will be the Delaware Secretary of Education Doctor Susan Bunting or her designee, Delaware Secretary of State Jeffrey Bullock, two representatives from the University of Delaware, a representative from Delaware State University and other interested parties. The university representatives would be appointed by their institution’s presidents for their expertise in technology and entrepreneurship. It would also be the job of this committee to develop the platform so that students and startups with potential to add commercialization, job creation and economic growth would naturally rise to the top.

Arguments Against the Student Entrepreneur Fund

Others argue that this bill does not go far enough to change Delaware’s economy. They argue that the first step is for the Delaware Economic Development Office to develop detailed plans that are more than five years long. They also stress that laws giving schools the flexibility and funding to prepare students at an early age must be passed. Furthermore, they suggest that the most advanced community policing programs must be put in place so that Delaware become a safer state. They also believe that the state’s infrastructure must be upgraded. Until these things happen, opponents feel that the governor should not sign this bill.

The Student Entrepreneur Fund also called Delaware Senate Bill 112 would provide funding to startups and young people wanting to start businesses in the state. The idea is being proposed because Delaware has seen a recent decline in young people choosing to stay in the state. A committee would be appointed to build a platform allowing the best ideas to rise to the top. Successful new startups receiving funding would have to promise to stay in the state for 10 years. Opponents argue that their are many better ways to spend taxpayer’s funds.

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