Responsible Innovation Labs Launches First Pro-Innovation Responsible AI Protocol For Startups

Actionable guidance developed with support from a multi-sector coalition of venture capitalists, generative AI startups, academia, and the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Responsible Innovation Labs
November 14, 2023

SAN FRANCISCO, November 14, 2023 – Responsible Innovation Labs (RIL), a nonprofit that equips founders and investors to create the next generation of high growth technology companies with responsible innovation at their core, has launched the first industry-driven responsible AI protocol specifically focused on startups and the investors who back them. Initial signatories to RIL’s Responsible AI Protocol include 35 leading venture capital funds.

Today, RIL will release its Voluntary Responsible AI Protocol. U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo will attend the announcement in San Francisco and will share public remarks on the Biden Administration and Department of Commerce’s vision to advance responsible AI and the importance of the startup and venture communities doing their part to build trustworthy and safe technologies. Participants will then engage in a roundtable conversation with the Secretary on how to achieve that vision.

AI holds tremendous promise but presents new and unknown risks. Consequently, interest in regulation, government intervention, and litigation continues to escalate globally. Yet, current responsible innovation resources and expertise are dispersed, inconsistent, generalized, or geared toward large companies with large budgets for compliance.

In collaboration with investors and startups, following consultation with policymakers and other stakeholders, RIL is introducing voluntary commitments focused on responsible AI. RIL is also providing the first edition of supplemental resources that support startup and investor implementation of these voluntary commitments. Drawn and adapted from industry, civil society, academia, and the public sector, this protocol is tailored to meet the needs of early stage startups and promotes growth, competition, clarity, and trust in AI driven innovation. RIL's protocol provides a roadmap for the increasing numbers of startups and investors that want to integrate responsible AI practices as they scale businesses and innovation. The protocol is open source and available at

“With AI, we are experiencing a step-change in technological development that will shape how we live our lives for decades to come. But with the great power of innovation comes responsibility,” said Gaurab Bansal, executive director of Responsible Innovation Labs. “As society collectively grapples with what responsible AI means in practice, we need to ensure that we reflect the critical voice of the startup community and support innovation, leadership, and competition. RIL’s responsible AI commitments and protocol will drive growth and innovation precisely because operators and investors account for privacy, fairness, safety, security, and trust.”

To meet this need, RIL developed a set of voluntary responsible AI commitments that is informed by feedback from a wide range of stakeholders, including AI experts in the private sector, academia, and civil society, and the U.S. Department of Commerce. The effort has garnered 35 signatories such as Mayfield, General Catalyst, Felicis, Bain Capital, IVP, and Lux Capital. The Commitments consist of five key action steps:

  • Secure organizational buy-in on responsible AI
  • Foster trust through transparency
  • Forecast AI risks & benefits
  • Audit and test to ensure product safety, and
  • Make regular and ongoing improvements

“AI is the defining technology of our generation. President Biden is leading an historic, all-hands-on-deck approach to ensure we are leaving no stone unturned to harness the power of AI for good while protecting people from its risks. Voluntary commitments like the protocol announced today demonstrate important leadership from the private sector,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. “I’m encouraged to see startup leaders stepping forward with a vision for responsible AI. I look forward to continuing to engage with the private sector to maximize the benefits of AI while minimizing its risks. Good-faith efforts to advance safe, responsible and trustworthy AI are critical to American innovation and competitiveness.”

“The tech community cannot make the same mistakes that have been made in the past,” said Hemant Taneja, co-founder and chairman of Responsible Innovation Labs and managing partner of General Catalyst. “Developing AI will require greater intentionality and a recognition from both investors and startups that responsible innovation principles will allow us to unlock the possibilities and avoid the pitfalls of this transformational technology.”

RIL and its advisors worked intensively to survey the landscape of responsible AI practices; evaluate recommendations and frameworks from the federal government, industry, open-source communities, civil society, academia, and more; secure feedback from experts; and track policy developments. The Voluntary Responsible AI Commitments and Protocol is the culmination of this work. The guidance is adapted from existing recommendations to meet the distinct needs of founders building the next generation of AI companies and serves as a live document to continue reflecting the current state of AI development.


About Responsible Innovation Labs

Responsible Innovation Labs (RIL) is a new 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization working to equip founders and investors to create the next generation of high growth technology companies with responsible innovation at their core. We develop company-building tools like the Responsible AI Commitments and the supporting Protocol for Responsible AI. We build the responsible innovation community (with events like the annual Responsible Innovation Founders Summit, intimate founder dinners, roundtables, and webinars). Our coalition includes investors (like General Catalyst, Base10, Bessemer Ventures, Khosla Ventures), founders (like the CEOs of Cityblock, Gusto, Guild), major LPs (Princeton University Investment Company, Oxford University Endowment Management), and an Advisory Board (led by Ken Chenault). Read our charter here.

Note to Editors

The event hosted by Responsible Innovation Labs, featuring the U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, is open to press and will take place at 1:45pm PT, November 14, in San Francisco. Please contact to attend.