Without a doubt, the world is changing, intensifying the need for companies to be more digitally connected. For the food and beverage industry, the fourth industrial revolution gives rise to technologies that help increase productivity, improve food safety, reduce food and resource waste, and provide full supply chain transparency from farm to consumers. Additionally, modern tracking tools and affordable sensors can monitor equipment for signs of performance deficiencies, downtime, or impending maintenance.
Join this panel discussion to hear how preventative maintenance and predictive analytics through artificial intelligence benefits the enterprise.
Detect mechanic deterioration and downtime risk
Significantly reduce the risks for contamination and food waste
Safeguard product quality
Ensure sustainability initiatives
Now is the time to for food and beverage companies to actively work to learn, adapt, and evolve processes and operations to digitally optimize and prepare for future growth.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) offers multiple programs that help small businesses and inventors with acquiring intellectual property protections, which can help protect creative works or ideas. These programs, such as the Inventors Assistance Center, are aimed at assisting the public, especially small businesses and inventors, with intellectual property protections. Several stakeholders GAO interviewed said that USPTO programs have been helpful, but they were also not aware of some USPTO programs. Although these programs individually evaluate how they help small businesses and inventors, the agency does not collect and evaluate overall information on whether these programs are effectively reaching out to and meeting the needs of these groups. Under federal internal control standards, an agency should use quality information to achieve its objectives. Without an agency-wide approach to collect information to help evaluate the extent to which its programs serve small businesses and inventors, USPTO may not have the quality information needed to fully evaluate the effectiveness of its outreach and assistance for these groups and thus make improvements where necessary.
Although the Small Business Administration (SBA) coordinates with USPTO through targeted efforts to provide intellectual property training to small businesses, it has not fully implemented some statutory requirements that can further enhance this coordination. While SBA and the Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) coordinate with USPTO programs at the local level to train small businesses on intellectual property protection (see figure), this coordination is inconsistent. For example, two of the 12 SBDCs that GAO interviewed reported working primarily with USPTO to help small businesses protect their intellectual property, but the other 10 did not. The Small Business Innovation Protection Act of 2017 requires SBA and USPTO to coordinate and build on existing intellectual property training programs, and requires that SBA’s local partners, specifically the SBDCs, provide intellectual property training, in coordination with USPTO. SBA officials reported that they are in the process of implementing requirements of this act. Incorporating selected leading practices for collaboration, such as documenting the partnership agreement and clarifying roles and responsibilities, could help SBA and USPTO fully and consistently communicate their existing resources to their partners and programs, enabling them to refer these resources to small businesses and inventors.
Why GAO Did This Study
Small businesses employ about half of the U.S. private workforce and create approximately two-thirds of the nation’s jobs. For many small businesses, intellectual property aids in building market share and creating jobs. Among the federal agencies assisting small businesses with intellectual property are USPTO, which grants patents and registers trademarks, and SBA, which assists small businesses on a variety of business development issues, including intellectual property.
GAO was asked to review resources available to help small businesses and inventors protect intellectual property, and their effectiveness. This report examines, among other things, (1) the extent to which USPTO evaluates the effectiveness of its efforts to assist small businesses and (2) SBA’s coordination with USPTO to assist small businesses. GAO analyzed agency documents and interviewed officials who train and assist small businesses. GAO also interviewed stakeholders, including small businesses, and, among other things, reviewed federal internal control standards and selected leading practices for enhancing interagency collaboration.
What GAO Recommends
GAO is making four recommendations, including that USPTO develop an agency-wide approach to evaluate the effectiveness of its efforts to help small businesses and inventors, and that SBA document its partnership agreement with USPTO and clarify roles and responsibilities for coordinating with USPTO to provide training. Both agencies agreed with GAO’s recommendations.
Sustainability and regenerative ag are terms typically tied to the soil. But leaders at the World Agri-Tech Innovation Summit are focusing on building a holistic regenerative system: from deploying capital and securing financial resiliency for stakeholders to ensuring the next generations will want to return to the family farm.
Water is essential to life. We depend on it for our survival. The basic need has shaped how human societies have advanced over time. Explorers from pre-Columbian times and the age of antiquity to NASA have lived by the motto “follow the water” as they have sought and continue to seek to discover new opportunities for the expansion of human civilization.
While water is plentiful – covering 70% of the Earth’s surface – 97% of this water is saline, located in our oceans, and not fit to drink or use for crops. The world’s fresh water is not equally distributed or accessible and is found disproportionately in places where people do not live. And as human civilization has expanded, we have reached the point globally where humanity depletes the available freshwater supply at a rate of 4.3 trillion cubic meters every year – the majority of which goes to agricultural and industrial uses.
This needs to change. That’s why we’re announcing an ambitious commitment for Microsoft to be water positive for our direct operations by 2030. We’re tackling our water consumption in two ways: reducing our water use intensity – or the water we use per megawatt of energy used for our operations – and replenishing water in the water- stressed regions we operate. This means that by 2030 Microsoft will replenish more water than it consumes on a global basis.
If we are to maximize the probability of a just transition to a sustainable society, all actors should explain what they mean by net-zero before they describe their intended timeline and actions for achieving it.
Digital is the clear winner of the COVID crisis, as hundreds of millions of people have migrated to the world of bytes to socialize, work and consume. Although only some of this unprecedented behavioural shift will stick in the long term, there is no doubt that COVID has catapulted us into the digital future.
COVID’s digital dividend could be huge, from helping to deliver our climate goals to improving health and education access. Whether we can actually get this dividend, however, depends on how digitalization reshapes finance.
Walmart is ditching the plastic wrap on long English cucumbers in select stores after striking a deal with veggie grower Houweling’s Group to test cucumbers coated in Apeel, an invisible plant-based edible skin proven to dramatically extend the shelf-life of fresh produce.
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