Read it many years ago, and don't remember the title or the author. The plot set-up was that earth has been placed under embargo by a federation of alien planets, who say earth people will not be allowed to leave their solar system until they have developed their own faster than light drive. This is resented by most earth people, but it suits some powerful earth interests. A young inventor has developed FTL technology, and is seeking to test it, but these same interests try to stop him, so that the embargo will continue. He meets a funny little alien who hails from a high gravity planet, which gives him superstrength. This alien, while generally very good-natured, has a nasty temper, for which he's been temporarily banished from his world (I think that was the explanation for his being on earth). They embark on an adventure together (they and several other characters I don't remember so well, one of whom was probably a pretty girl who served as a love interest for the inventor), the end being to prove earth has what it takes to join the federation, and make its mark upon the universe.
Yes, it is a bit reminiscent of "Star Trek: First Contact", which it pre-dates by several decades. That's one reason I'd like to read it again. I think it was published in the 1950's, maybe early 60's, but the style is definitely more like the 50's. I don't think the author is a really big name, but can't swear to that. Anybody remember it?