U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke unveiled a new initiative geared toward empowering entrepreneurs at the Inc. 500|5000 Conference & Awards Ceremony Thursday morning.

The two-pronged plan will include a new department, the Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, which will report directly to Locke and work closely with the White House to provide training and resources to budding entrepreneurs. Secondly, Locke announced a National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship, which will be comprised of successful entrepreneurs and investors, to advise the administration on new ideas and issues among inventors and start-ups.

Locke said the goal is to encourage and facilitate creativity among entrepreneurs in order to help position the country as a leader in economic, environmental and health reform.

"In the end, we believe the changes we're pursuing will free you to do what you do best: innovate and create," said Locke. "We need entrepreneurs to lead."

Providing better access to capital and marketing will be among the top priorities of the new office, he told the attendees.

"Too often, promising innovations in both federal labs and universities and in garages across America get caught in 'the valley of death' -- where great ideas don't get enough money or resources to reach commercial viability."