WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwire - February 24, 2010) -   For the first time, the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA) bestowed its annual American Spirit Award to a member of Congress, recognizing Representative Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA) for her outstanding support for innovation in the United States. The award was given last evening by the NVCA Board of Directors at a gathering in Washington, D.C. Created in 1999, the American Spirit Award recognizes those who have shown leadership to make an outstanding contribution to society.

"Congresswoman Eshoo has been a tireless advocate for economic growth and job creation by supporting those policies that foster innovation and entrepreneurship in this country," said Terry McGuire, co-founder and general partner of Polaris Venture Partners and chairman of the NVCA. "Her leadership in life sciences and clean energy policy as well as her unflappable support of the start-up community has without question moved our country forward in the most positive manner. We are thrilled to recognize her with this distinguished award."

Recent issues where Congresswoman Eshoo has demonstrated critical leadership include:

  • Rallying Members of Congress to publicly request that Ways & Means Chairman Rangel refrain from using tax legislation detrimental to the venture capital industry and entrepreneurs as a "pay-for" for the Tax Extenders Act of 2009.
  • Serving as a champion to maintain a reasonable exclusivity period for biologic innovation developed by the start-up community.
  • Representing the start-up medical device community in health care reform by mitigating a potentially devastating tax burden on small companies.
  • Playing a critical role as a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee in the passage of the House "Cap & Trade Bill" -- the American Clean Energy and Security Act. 
  • Advancing the House Democrat's "Innovation Agenda" and co-sponsoring legislation to create the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy Act (ARPA-E).

"It is a high honor to receive this award, which I accept on behalf of those it is my privilege to represent -- the people of California's 14th Congressional District, the home of Silicon Valley and the epicenter of the venture capital industry," Rep. Eshoo said. "Silicon Valley is where the future is invented and reinvented every day, and where we practice the art of the possible. It is where we've had the wisdom to invest in basic research, and where the risk-takers, the venture capitalists, have the courage to invest in unproven technologies and new ideas that, just a few years ago, were beyond our imaginings."

"It has been a privilege to work with Representative Eshoo over the years as she understands the importance of innovation to our country's ongoing economic leadership and global competitiveness," said Mark Heesen, president of the NVCA. "Her commitment to ensure that small companies are represented has helped continue to bring cutting edge breakthroughs to markets so that all Americans can benefit from the pioneering spirit of the entrepreneurial community."

About NVCA

The National Venture Capital Association (NVCA) represents more than 400 venture capital firms in the United States. NVCA's mission is to foster greater understanding of the importance of venture capital to the U.S. economy and support entrepreneurial activity and innovation. According to a 2009 Global Insight study, venture-backed companies accounted for 12.1 million jobs and $2.9 trillion in revenue in the United States in 2008. The NVCA represents the public policy interests of the venture capital community, strives to maintain high professional standards, provides reliable industry data, sponsors professional development, and facilitates interaction among its members. For more information about the NVCA, please visit www.nvca.org.

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Emily Mendell