THE BLOG
08/09/2012 05:54 pm ET | Updated Oct 09, 2012

Paying It Forward: America's Corporations & Next Generation Startups

America's iconic brands all share a basic, often overlooked, attribute: they all began as a startup. GE, Ford, Dell, and every other company that is now a household name started as an idea, a business case, a great founder's vision. These visionaries not only created amazing companies and thousands of jobs, but helped improve life for people all over the world. They didn't stop there. They, like founders before them, made paying it forward to the next generation of startups a primary focus.

Startup history is undoubtedly marked by the unspoken responsibility and commitment to help the next generation of entrepreneurs. These mentoring relationships and resulting success stories are what lead to innovation and success. They are the relationships that help founders continue to move forward and succeed against seemingly impossible odds.

The American economy is forward leaning and relies heavily on the success of founders and their companies. According to a Kauffman Foundation study published in 2010, young, high-growth oriented companies are not only responsible for much of the country's innovation, but also for most of the net new job creation over the last 30 years. With the rising tide of global competitiveness and the current employment challenges here at home, it's more critical than ever that we raise our "startup game."

As founder-to-founder mentoring continues to thrive in the current wave of startup activity across the US, a new and very scalable trend is also emerging: corporate involvement. Today, large corporations are taking the time to remember their own startup story and are paying it forward by presenting opportunities, creating relationships and sharing knowledge with startups. They are connecting with these young companies in many ways: as mentors in their local communities, as service providers, as subject matter experts, as business partners and, in many cases, as early customers.

Big businesses are opening doors to their engineering labs, creating co-working space, providing funding, and engaging at startup meet-ups. They are dedicating time, energy, and resources to continue to improve their startup engagement. Why? They know these engagements and relationships can result in mutual success, increase the speed of innovation, improve competitiveness, and result in growth.

At the Startup America Partnership, we're focused on bringing together a national community of passionate founders, investors, mentors, executives and corporations to work together to help startups be more successful here in America. To date, we've engaged thousands of startups, hundreds of Startup Champions and thought leaders, helped launch dozens of local regional efforts (26 Startup Regions so far), and we've connected these young, high-growth companies with more than 100 corporations dedicated to helping the next generation of startups. These companies are creating one of kind programs to help startups succeed. A few great examples are:

NYSE Euronext's "Corporate Connection": A platform designed to provide a new way for startups to connect and collaborate with America's biggest corporations.

American Airlines' "Flights Camera Action": A contest running through August 10th focused on the importance of travel to growing businesses, which will award the winners free flights and marketing opportunities.

Dell's "Innovation Growth Credit Fund": As part of Dell's Entrepreneur In Residence program Dell has launched a financing initiative to help startups drive innovation, time to market and ultimately job creation.

Microsoft's BizSpark program: A global program helping software startups be more successful and scale more effectively by connecting them with tools, software, knowledge and visibility.

It's incredibly encouraging to see America's largest companies working to help today's startups grow and in doing so, create the jobs this country needs. Startups should now see large companies not only as a main competitor, but a major opportunity. Startups across the country can gain access to all these programs and more by joining Startup America. It's free, it's easy, and it's the best way to kick-start America's economy.