This month I had the opportunity to participate in the five-day Select USA 2021 Virtual Investment Summit on June 7-11, 2021. The event is designed to facilitate direct foreign investment into the United States. There were 3,000 attendees, including 1,200 business investors from 80 international markets and 200 speakers. Here are a few of my takeaways.
President Biden addressed the conference along with several Federal Government Department heads offering services to facilitate business location in the United States. Gina M. Raimondo, U.S. Secretary of Commerce, hosted the event. She emphasized the importance of broadband infrastructure in her opening address and how the U.S. government plans to invest $1 billion in the rural areas including tribal lands where only 50% of the population have access to broadband services necessary to access remote health care, education, and commerce.
As we all learned from the global pandemic, those of us who could work from home required a robust broadband connection. As we move into the future, we’re going to see more and more requirements to be connected to participate in the global economy.
Perhaps my biggest takeaway from the conference was a strong reminder of what an amazing business ecosystem we have. Infrastructure, markets, an educated and talented workforce, and access to capital are a few things that come to mind. There were over 80 startup companies from around the world looking to the United States as a place to scale their businesses. I was reminded of the importance of the rule of law that enables us to reliably conduct business.
As I listened to the startup pitches by the 80 companies, I sensed the importance that access to capital had for these firms. The “shark tank” like panel of judges listened thoughtfully and asked good questions following the companies’ 10-minute pitch deck presentations. In addition to the panel, there were also several venture capital and private equity firms seeking opportunities to deploy their capital. Pitch sessions included companies in aerospace, cleantech, cybersecurity, e-commerce, fintech, MedTech, software, and other industries. Breakout workshops offered them the answers to basic questions regarding the legal system that they will need to follow to do business in the U.S. as well as coaching on improving their pitches. The main advice was to think like an investor – “What’s my return, and when do I get it?”
The industry sector workshops were informative and provided insight into trends. The workshop on Advanced Manufacturing identified the rapid advances taking place in the Internet of Things and especially sensors technology. The digital transformation of U.S. industries was mentioned by several speakers.
The Aviation and Aerospace panelists discussed new technologies included additive manufacturing, artificial intelligence, autonomous aircraft, digital transformation, future propulsion, supersonic and hypersonic travel, location of future spaceports, disaster response logistics, and more. The aviation and aerospace panel also pointed out the opportunities for supersonic travel. Soon a trip from the United States to Europe may only take few hours. Urban Air mobility was discussed in terms of an air taxi for major urban areas.
The panel discussed the ecosystem necessary for Urban Air mobility that includes access to airspace. We will have lanes established for Urban Air mobility for automated aircraft to transport passengers and cargo. Future propulsion will likely include hydrogen and all-electric aircraft. Airports will need the infrastructure to be able to rapidly charge electric aircraft with minimum turnaround times needed.
One of the benefits of being a virtual conference was that it offered access to 3,000 individuals and companies from around the world that may not have had the means to attend the conference in person in Washington DC. The challenge for me was finding the time during the week to be able to participate in the sessions, many of which started at 5:00 AM ET and some of which ran into the late evening hours to accommodate the various time zones. I have since been watching the recorded sessions that I missed.
The presence of 1,200 investors at this conference points out the opportunity that the Select USA Investment Summit offers them to identify new opportunities to deploy their capital.
All in all, I felt my time invested in attending the Select USA Virtual Investment Summit was well spent. I came away with new insights as to what our country has to offer new business startups as well as long-established companies.