2014 Schedule
Interactive: March 7–11  •  Film: March 7–15  •  Music: March 11–16

Policymakers & Startups Can Build Ecosystems

#sxsw #sxpolicy

To bolster our startup communities, strong collaboration is required for success. Policymakers at the local, state, and federal level can be a powerful partner for advancing startup ecosystems. One of the major problems is that a gap exists between the two. Policymakers aren't always aware of the startups in their area, and the economic impacts startups can bring. Likewise, startups don't always think to engage policymakers to bring awareness to their endeavors. The goal of this panel is to discuss how the two can work together to bridge the divide, and build thriving communities.



Brandon Pollak

Dir, Global Affairs


Brandon Pollak is the Director of Global Affairs for 1776, a global hub in Washington DC for startups tackling major challenges in education, energy, health care, smart cities, and other critical industries. Brandon focuses on global public policy, strategic partnerships, and engagement with the embassy community.

Brandon possesses over a decade of political strategy and public policy experience. He has advocated on behalf of Fortune 500 companies, and trade association clients before the U.S. Congress and Executive Branch agencies for policies that would foster innovation domestically, and greater global competitiveness.

In addition, Brandon has served on the Executive Board of Venture for America since its launch in 2011.


Darrell Issa

Member of Congress

US House of Representatives

Congressman Darrell Issa represents the people of California’s 49th Congressional District in the United States House of Representatives, a seat he has held since 2001. The 49th District includes Camp Pendleton, the largest Marine Corps training facility in the United States, and the northern portions of San Diego County and southern Orange County.
Issa currently is a member of the House Judiciary Committee and the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, where he serves as the Chairman.
At the height of his career in business, Issa served as CEO of California-based Directed Electronics, a company that Issa founded and built in the mid-1990s to become the nation’s largest manufacturer of vehicle anti-theft devices, including the highly-successful Viper system. In 1994, Issa was named Entrepreneur of the Year by Inc. Magazine, Ernst & Young and The San Diego Union Tribune.

Gregory Ferenstein

Technology Policy Writer



Suzan Delbene


United States House Of Representatives

Congresswoman Suzan DelBene represents Washington state’s 1st Congressional District, and was first sworn into Congress in November 2012. The 1st District of Washington is home to Nintendo of America, the headquarters of Microsoft, one of Google’s largest engineering offices, and many fast growing tech startups. In addition to high tech, the district is economically very diverse with many berry and dairy farms, biotechnology firms, advanced manufacturing and aerospace companies.

An entrepreneur and business leader with over 20 years of experience in the private sector, DelBene understands the critical role that innovative companies play in creating opportunities for citizens and the foundation for economic growth for communities. DelBene worked in the biotechnology industry before earning an MBA from the University of Washington and embarking on a successful career as a technology leader and innovator. In more than two decades as an executive and entrepreneur, she helped start drugstore.com as its vice president of marketing and store development, and served as CEO and president of Nimble Technology, a business software company based on technology developed at the University of Washington. DelBene spent 12 years at Microsoft, most recently as corporate vice president of the company’s mobile communications business. In that position, she ran worldwide sales, marketing, and product management for the company’s mobile efforts.

In 2010, DelBene was appointed by Governor Gregoire to be the Director of the Washington State Department of Revenue. During her tenure, she Suzan proposed reforms to cut red tape for small businesses. She also enacted an innovative tax amnesty program that generated $345 million to help close the state’s budget gap, while easing the burden on small businesses.

DelBene is currently a member of the House Judiciary Committee and the House Agriculture Committee.

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