By: Liz Gray, Director of Entrepreneurship – NH Business Finance Authority
New Hampshire’s startup ecosystem is receiving support from the highest levels of state government through the Live Free and Start initiative – a collaboration between Governor Maggie Hassan, the New Hampshire Business Finance Authority and the Department of Resources and Economic Development that is aimed at creating jobs and making it easier for innovation-based businesses to start, grow and succeed. As the State’s first Director of Entrepreneurship, I have the pleasure of working with an advisory council made up of 14 accomplished high-tech entrepreneurs and business leaders from across New Hampshire. Together we provide strategic input and recommendations to help the state modernize the way government interacts with the business community, eliminate hurdles to starting a company, expand opportunities to support startup financing and more effectively market New Hampshire as a place where innovative businesses can thrive.
Since our formation this past summer, Live Free and Start has been extremely active in pursuing several goals including three legislative initiatives that have received bipartisan support and sponsorship. The first, SB 215-FN-A takes a creative approach to providing companies with much needed capital as an incentive for doing research and development activities in New Hampshire. The bill allows companies the option to utilize the full R&D tax credit or to monetize the credit by requesting a partial rebate. For early stage companies, having cash up front that they can reinvest in their company is often more beneficial to their growth and success than receiving a tax credit that they may be able to utilize in future years when they are profitable.
Filing a business name is often the first interaction a new business has with the state. SB 223-FN modifies New Hampshire’s business name availability standard by removing the subjectivity in the approval process. The change proposed in SB 223-FN will provide new business filers with additional clarity, consistency and reliability when they file their name and enhance the customer service the state provides new businesses.
SB 266-FN seeks to modernize New Hampshire’s securities regulations. The bill focuses on investor protection and reducing hurdles for businesses trying to raise the capital they need to grow and create jobs. We feel that SB 266-FN fairly balances the state’s ability to regulate securities transactions, while creating a synchronized and modern law that reflects current thinking and the way business and entrepreneurs work.

In order to build on the work of New Hampshire’s business incubator network, Governor Hassan included $250,000 in her budget proposal for education and acceleration programs like the Alpha Loft’s Accelerate NH. These funds will allow our incubators to offer more high value programming, events and seminars to further support the development of early stage companies.
In addition to our legislative efforts, this spring, Live Free and Start will launch a fully interactive website and outreach effort aimed at educating entrepreneurs about the benefits of starting their business in New Hampshire. In the meantime, we are encouraging any entrepreneur who has started or is planning to launch a business to visit and register for an exclusive New Hampshire business acceleration opportunity that will be announced soon.

The Live Free and Start initiative is only one piece of New Hampshire’s growing and strengthening entrepreneurial ecosystem. Our organization looks forward to supporting the existing efforts of groups like Alpha Loft, Dartmouth Regional Technology Center, Dartmouth Entrepreneurial Network (DEN), Enterprise Center at Plymouth, Hannah Grimes Center, and Mount Washington Valley Economic Council Technology Village because together we can and we will make New Hampshire an even better state for innovative businesses to start, grow and succeed.

About the Author:
Originally from New York, Liz Gray came to New Hampshire for college, fell in love with the Granite State and decided to stay. Liz is drawn to public service and state government. She started her career working for then-Governor Jeanne Shaheen, followed by time with the New Hampshire State Senate, Governor John Lynch, and the NH Division of Economic Development. Liz is now the Director of Entrepreneurship for the NH Business Finance Authority where she is leading the Live Free and Start initiative. You can learn more about Live Free and Start at: Email

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