An idea to leverage technology to help clients develop a strategy for engaging with the Federal government, shaping its research and technological agenda and creating compelling messaging for advocacy to advance client interests positioned the Honorable Kelly H. Carnes as the trailblazer to follow.
Kelly is known for her entrepreneurial drive and is a nationally recognized technology policy expert. She is a thought leader who has spent three decades serving the high-tech industry in various fields.
Today, as the President and CEO of TechVision21, Kelly has led the company to become an innovation strategy powerhouse with a passion for advancing clients’ leading-edge innovations.
Unveil Kelly’s passionate leadership that continues helping companies partner with the Federal government. This allows TechVision21 to focus on business development and growing the company.
Up Until Now
When Kelly earned her law degree, she started working as an attorney at a national law firm to negotiate and structure technology business deals. This included joint ventures, strategic alliances, venture capital transactions, licensing and marketing agreements, and arrangements for systems integration projects.
Then Kelly was recruited to work in the White House as an aide to First Lady Hilary Clinton in 1992. Kelly states that the Clinton Administration was implementing a groundbreaking national technology agenda, which she wanted to support. She transferred to the U.S. Department of Commerce, where she led some of the Administration’s key technology initiatives. For example, Kelly served as a senior policy advisor to four Secretaries of Commerce. The President nominated, and the Senate confirmed Kelly to be the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Technology Policy. In that role, Kelly was a liaison to, and advocate for, the technology business community and led Presidential and Cabinet-level technology initiatives.
During Kelly’s tenure as Assistant Secretary, she learned that most organizations—whether start-ups or global giants—were not leveraging Federal Government policies, programs, and funding as well they could be to advance their business and competitive goals. Hence, after leaving the government, Kelly founded TechVision21 to help companies, universities and science and technology non-profit organizations take advantage of Federal government support for research and technology development and deployment in an economy driven by technology and innovation.
An Innovation Strategy Powerhouse
TechVision21 is a specialized consulting firm providing a wide range of services to its clients. It monitors and identifies opportunities for Federal funding that can support projects to advance client technologies or initiatives. Kelly asserts, “When those opportunities arise in the form of Federal Requests for Proposals, we provide intensive support in developing high-quality, competitive, and compliant proposals. Also, our staff performs thinktank quality research and draft talking points, fact sheets, and reports in support of our clients. My philosophy is that we can do well at TechVision21 while doing good by supporting clients that contribute to U.S. economic growth, prosperity, and competitiveness.”
TechVision21 has helped its clients secure more than $100 million in grant funding to advance their cuttingedge technologies in areas such as microelectronics, nanotechnology. clean energy, and manufacturing. It also helped clients support research centers and regional technology-based economic development initiatives. TechVision21 also provides analysis to help several Federal departments better understand their STEM workforce and the challenges they face in meeting their needs for scientists and engineers. Based on this analysis, the team helps them develop and execute STEM workforce development strategies.
Clients at the Forefront
Kelly mentions that she is fortunate to have an outstanding staff with decades of experience in Federal technology policy, the U.S. innovation system, and the dimensions of U.S. competitiveness. She shares, “We also have a network of independent experts and consultants we can bring into large projects or when the specific knowledge needed is not resident in our permanent staff. Our values are to provide our clients with our best and most honest advice based on our experience and customized services that meet their specialized needs.”
“Our staff and network of experts are professionals dedicated to providing the highest quality work products and meeting deadlines even if that means working late into the night or weekends,” explains Kelly.
TechVision21’s work involves a high level of collaboration with clients and its staff. Kelly expresses that collaboration is made easier as they all work remotely and can connect virtually. One result of the pandemic is that TechVision21 clients can now engage with busy Federal policy makers and program managers without coming to Washington. The TechVision21 team has sponsored numerous conversations and briefings with people who can help their clients during the pandemic.
Waving the Technological Wand
According to Kelly, the past two decades have been a tough time for U.S. manufacturing. Tens of thousands of manufacturing establishments closed, resulting in millions of people losing manufacturing jobs. Kelly believes that there is a golden opportunity to strengthen manufacturing by leveraging emerging technologies to create new products and transform the manufacturing process. She says, “A host of new technologies—artificial intelligence, sensors, the Internet of Things, autonomous systems and robots, biotechnology, nanotechnology, AR/VR, and more—are revolutionizing the way we make things. So, I would like to see widespread deployment of these technologies to lower costs and make manufacturing smarter and more flexible to make it easier to introduce new products, and more energy-efficient. All of this would make us more competitive in global technology
markets for manufactured products.” It is critical that the United States returns to a “Made in America” philosophy.
Kelly understands that nanotechnology has been advancing but under the public’s radar. Many consumer products incorporate nanotechnology in many cases—clothing, cosmetics, batteries, sports equipment, food packaging, even toothpaste. It is also a foundational technology in advanced microelectronics. “Manufacturers are just getting warmed up, and we are going to see many new nano-based products on the market with unique properties. Nanomedicine is poised to scale and will likely revolutionize diagnostics, therapeutics, and drug delivery. In fact, nanoparticles are instrumental in the mRNA COVID vaccines that have saved millions of lives. When nanotechnology started being commercialized, we helped several nanotech start-ups engage with the Departments of Defense and Energy. We stand ready to help other companies that may need some Federal support to develop new products applying this remarkable technology,” notes Kelly.
Kelly knows that starting and running a business is very rewarding, and she encourages those who have a promising idea or invention and are hungry to start their business to take a risk and try. With numerous game-changing technologies emerging, the opportunities for developing and commercializing innovative products and services have never been more significant.
But on the flip side, running a business is hard work. Kelly says, “Don’t expect success overnight; building a business takes time. You will have great days with successes, but you will also face challenges, perhaps even failures, that set you back, and, some days, you will feel like throwing in the towel. Even Steve Jobs, with revolutionary technology, struggled for years to get backers and Apple off the ground. Eventually, it changed the world, and now is one of the world’s most valuable companies.”
“You must persevere, work through the tough problems, constantly assess what you are doing right or wrong, listen to the customer, and keep your eye on the future. Also, do not hesitate to get a mentor or ask for advice from a seasoned business owner or expert in your field. Many are happy to share their hard-won wisdom. Also, in many regions, economic development agencies have established a range of services to help entrepreneurs and business networks share information. Take advantage of them.”
“We have many latent entrepreneurs in this country. About two-thirds of U.S. adults believe they have the knowledge and skills to start a business, but only 12 percent of adults intend to start a business in the next three years. Narrowing that gap would be good for the American people and building generational wealth, for our economy, U.S. competitiveness, and the country!” Kelly concludes.