Policymakers and Grassroots Networks Find They Need Each Other for Smarter Ecosystems
For a few years now, a global gathering of startup champions, investors and entrepreneurs called the Global Entrepreneurship Congress (GEC) has explored approaches to strengthening entrepreneurship around the world. Last March in Rio de Janeiro, it included dozens of events that turned the gathering into a festival for startups and those that foster them — connecting roughly 2,700 entrepreneurship leaders and supporters from 119 countries. Perhaps the biggest surprise was the turnout for the pre-summit event on public policy. It started to become clear that a new chapter in entrepreneurship has begun. Two worlds have come together driven by a profound awareness of the impact of entrepreneurship. Earnest governments, anxious to work out how to support the right program and pull the right policy levers, are now interacting and even collaborating with grassroots networks and communities that are driving the emergence of smarter ecosystems from the bottomup. It is this new dynamic in these ecosystems that will support the scaling of new high-growth firms across the planet.
The Policy Summit at that event in Rio de Janeiro marked an unusual addition for a gathering that had started as a grassroots movement. Continuing then throughout the Congress, serial entrepreneurs and investors like Brad Feld, Dave McClure, and Jeff Hoffman shared thoughts with government officials from Israel, Singapore, Italy, Colombia, and beyond. Both sides discussed their perspective on opportunities and problems facing entrepreneurs as they seek to launch and grow new firms.
While they did not agree on everything, they did listen to one another. Feld, an early stage investor and entrepreneur who co-founded TechStars, told enthusiastic government leaders that the theme of their role in the ecosystem should be “do no harm” and many officials took note, based on entrepreneurs’ experiences, of the policies that they thought would not stand in the way.
From these conversations at the GEC in Rio, it turns out that policymaking to unleash new ventures demands new entrepreneurial thinking of its own. In fact, many top-down “planner types” said they are now engaging in the same iterative processes that many startups go through: experimenting with policies and programs to find out which are most effective at promoting defined objectives for economic growth and job creation. Further, like today’s generation of startup creators, policymakers are looking to the global stage for ideas and expertise, seeking best practices and bridges to other nations that are successfully nurturing entrepreneurship ecosystems. For example, Chile is not only importing entrepreneurial talent to fuel local startup communities through Start-Up Chile, it is now also importing capacity to help connect universities and industry, as explained by Conrad von Igel, executive director of InnovaChile, during the GEC Policy Summit.
In Rio de Janeiro, all startup ecosystem players shared a common platform for the first time. This shift in the frontier of the entrepreneurship field should be celebrated. It has not come easy, but rather through the aggregate efforts of thousands of entrepreneurship champions around the world over the past few years. The Kauffman Foundation hosted the first Global Entrepreneurship Congress in Kansas City in 2009 precisely to support the grassroots startup champions behind the Global Entrepreneurship Week movement.
Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) is the largest entrepreneurship festival in the world, where 20,000 events and activities attract 7.5 million attendees during a one-week period each November in more than 135 countries. At GEW competitions, global collaborations of creative minds turn ideas into real-life ventures: Startup Open identifies the most promising new startups from over 60 countries; the Cleantech Open Global Ideas Competition finds the best new green firms in 22 countries; and Startup Weekend boot camps churn out hundreds of founder teams to launch new ventures in more than 100 cities. Thousands of small gatherings are held in classrooms or under village trees, in addition to larger-scale events in football stadiums and convention centers. One can hear speeches by heads of state, talks by entrepreneurs, and thousands of pitches from ordinary people with ideas and drive who are raring to go. The most potent vision of GEW is simple: the enormous promise of today´s nascent entrepreneurs for innovating right through the world's toughest problems. These entrepreneurs have more than commercial consequence. People once dismissed in past eras as “dreamers trying to change the world” are today’s creative thinkers who, with the support of their peers, are using the marketplace to make their mark.
Yet much more has been accomplished through the synergies formed at each successive GEC. For the second edition of GEW in November 2009, several top government leaders extended their support. Each subsequent year has brought fresh assessments of entrepreneurship promotion efforts, new opportunities for collaboration, better-targeted programs through discussion of best practices, and even new data for better-informed policies. That is the legacy of the Global Entrepreneurship Week initiative and the annual Congress.
The growth in awareness has been central to the blossoming of the field of entrepreneurship among government and the grassroots. As these efforts continue, they bring clarity to the field of entrepreneurship, fostering productive discussions that reveal additional strengths — as well as weaknesses — in entrepreneurship ecosystems that yield important insights for more targeted and better coordinated efforts from both sides.
However, there is still a paucity of data to support decision-making. Now, the disciplined work of testing and selecting effective interventions — policies and programs that have beneficial impact — must begin. This calls for better and continuously updated data as well as rigorous analysis and evaluation. The Kauffman Foundation announced in October 2013 the creation of the Global Entrepreneurship Research Network (GERN) to take on this important task. Through this network, the World Bank and other major research organizations will align their efforts to: establish better and more uniform data collection; develop a repository of research and evaluations; and translate those findings and insights into better policies and programs to support entrepreneurs. GERN will help connect all stakeholders in the entrepreneurship ecosystem, those involved in top-down policy efforts as well as the bottom-up startup communities, to fight side-by-side in the battle to gain sober insights into efforts so that all sides can fine-tune initiatives strategically.
More data analysis done to truly understand entrepreneurial growth can only result in better policymaking. Now all eyes are on the next global gathering of leaders in this space that is scheduled to take place in Moscow from March 17-21, 2014. More than 140 nations are expected to participate — this time with an opening day dedicated to the policymakers who are anxious to be better helpers to their entrepreneur-led startup communities. Not only will the GERN meet there in Moscow, but a new coalition of startup-savvy policy advisors who make up a group called ‘Startup Nations’ will gather to discuss promising approaches and listen to early conclusions from the researchers. This all contributes to building better startup and scale-up ecosystems at all levels to best support those who bring new ideas to life.
Jonathan Ortmans is President of Global Entrepreneurship Week and Chair of the Global Entrepreneurship Congress.
Leading the development of Global Entrepreneurship Week on behalf of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, Jonathan Ortmans has worked to align more than 135 countries to inspire, connect, mentor and engage the next generation of entrepreneurs. In doing so, he has helped assemble an informal coalition of 7,906 organizations dedicated to stimulating entrepreneurial activity.
Ortmans brings a wealth of experience to the project, serving as a senior fellow at the Kauffman Foundation. Principally, he advises the Foundation on its global footprint and its interface with policymakers through the Policy Dialogue on Entrepreneurship (hosted at www. entrepreneurship.org), a public policy initiative to focus attention on the importance of entrepreneurship to the economy and society. Based in Washington, DC, Ortmans serves as an interface between new research and initiatives to advance entrepreneurship at the Foundation and the questions and concerns that arise from policymakers in the nation’s capital.
He started his first business at the age of 19 in his native United Kingdom and his second at 34 following a stint on Capitol Hill working for the U.S. House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee focusing on trade policy.
Previously, Ortmans served as executive director of the Columbia Institute for Political Research, concentrating on health care economic policy. Currently, he also serves as president of the Public Forum Institute, an independent not-for-profit organization that enjoys strong bi-partisan congressional support in fostering public discourse on major issues of the day.
In addition to serving on the national Boards for GEW around the world, Jonathan recently joined the Board of the Center for Entrepreneurship in Moscow. He also founded and chairs the Global Entrepreneurship Congress which each March annually gathers over 3,000 experts and policymakers focused on starting and scaling new firms.
Jonathan lives in Washington, DC and writes a weekly column on the Policy Forum blog at entrepreneurship.org (http://bit.ly/LgbCte). His Global Entrepreneurship Week posts can be found at http://www.unleashingideas.org/blog/tags/ortmans.
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Table of Contents
Foreword –- Karen Kerrigan, President & CEO, Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council; CIPE Vice Chair
Introduction – Kim Eric Bettcher, Ph.D., CIPE Senior Knowledge Manager
PART I: Overview of Entrepreneurship Ecosystems
Entrepreneurship and Economic Growth – Robert Litan, Director of Research, Bloomberg Government
How Do Institutions Facilitate Entrepreneurship? – Hernando de Soto, President, Institute for Liberty and Democracy
Why Institutions are Essential to Entrepreneurship – Mary Shirley, President, Ronald Coase Institute
Building Entrepreneurship Ecosystems – Anna Nadgrodkiewicz, Director, CIPE Multiregional Programs
CIPE's Approach to Building Environments for Entrepreneurial Success – John D. Sullivan, CIPE Executive Director
PART II: Elements of Ecosystems
Impact of Business Environment Reforms on New Firm Creation – Leora Klapper, Lead Economist, Finance & Private Sector, Development Research, World Bank & Douglas Randall, Research Analyst, Finance & Private Sector, Development Research, World Bank
Policymakers and Grassroots Networks Find They Need Each Other for Smarter Ecosystems – Jonathan Ortmans, President, Global Entrepreneurship Week
Enhancing Formal and Informal Entrepreneurship in Developing Countries – Daniel Cordova, President, Invertir Institute
Key Models of Effective Entrepreneurship Education – Lynda de la Viña, Director, Center for Global Entrepreneurship, University of Texas at San Antonio
Entrepreneurship and Trade: Recommendations for Policymakers – John Murphy, Vice President for International Affairs, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Effects of the Ecosystem on Business Growth Decisions – Andrew Sherman, Senior Partner, Jones Day
PART III: Emerging Ecosystems
Entrepreneurship in the Philippines: Opportunities and Challenges for Inclusive Growth – Ryan Evangelista, Former Executive Director, Universal Access to Competitiveness
The Entrepreneurship Ecosystem in Tunisia – Majdi Hassen, Executive Director, Istitut Arabe des Chefs d'Entreprises
Supporting Youth Entrepreneurship in Pakistan – Majid Shabbir, Secretary General, Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry
Fostering Entrepreneurship in Nepal through Cooperation – Robin Sitoula, Executive Director, Samriddhi, the Prosperity Foundation.