Of the nearly 4,000 delegates from 153 nations signed up for the Global Entrepreneurship Congress (GEC) next week in Moscow, a large number are traveling from Latin America. The region’s startup ecosystems are now firmly part of the global entrepreneurship grid and with such strong delegations expected from cities like Medellín, Santiago and Buenos Aires, it is clear they don’t want there to be any doubt around the world about it.
As the OECD recently reported, startups are gaining momentum in Latin America's innovation strategies. In fact, the Start-up Latin America: Promoting Innovation in the Region report analyzes policies in place in the region and provides a comparative snapshot of recent initiatives in six countries in the region—Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru. As in other parts of the world, the quest is now for clear indicators of what works and what doesn’t.
And that will be exactly the focus of the Global Entrepreneurship Congress (GEC) in Moscow next week. The primary theme of this year’s 153-country-strong gathering is to fill a knowledge gap expressed loud and clear at the last gathering of startup-savvy policymakers and entrepreneurs at a Kuala Lumpur Policy Roundtable in October 2013. The GEC asks how we develop better evidence as to how both startup communities and national leaders can help both incumbent and new entrants to the global entrepreneurship community.
While some Latin American states may still be struggling to move past government-led innovation or keeping a narrow focus on small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), many locations in the Latin American region are taking the lead from the local level. The Buenos Aires city government for example is arriving in Moscow to talk about specific ways to collaborate with institutions and initiatives like the Kauffman Foundation led research consortium, Global Entrepreneurship Week and Startup Nations, to strengthen its own pro-entrepreneurship boost. Both the Mayor of Medellin and the Mayor of Buenos Aires have assigned their top leadership to participate in the Congress, for example, joining panels with startup-savvy policymakers from Moscow and the Italian region of Lazio, where Rome belongs.
The plan for many Latin American delegations is to carefully examine experiences from other parts of the world shared during the four days in Moscow. Then, many will regroup with me in May in the Dominican Republic to develop actionable steps during a Workshop for Professionals of the Ecosystems in Latin America, led by the Entrepreneurship Development Program (PRODEM) of the National University of Sarmiento. This is a workshop where professionals from incubators, entrepreneurship centers, accelerators, governments, universities, financial organizations and consultants share an intensive week of experiential learning and networking. This year’s workshop is supported by the active Multilateral Investment Fund of the Inter-American Development Bank, and experts from outside the region, such as the University of Glasgow and Iñaki Ortega from Madrid Emprende in Spain.
Last March, the global community’s focus was on Rio de Janeiro during the 2013 edition of the GEC. Latin America is set on bringing the focus back to the region to show a plethora of variants in entrepreneurship policy approaches. As Hugo Kantis, Prodem Director in Argentina, explained to us, the region offers several case studies and is thirsty to build on the lessons from pioneers in Tel Aviv, Silicon Valley and London. Start Up Peru was most recently launched by its Ministry of Production and FINCYT. In Mexico, the National Institute for the Entrepreneur (INADEM) is changing the tone of the conversation from fostering potential rock star entrepreneurs to finding established angel investors ready to mentor and scale its next wave of startups. In Colombia, Innpulsa Colombia, Endeavor Colombia, the City of Medellín along with a handful of accelerators and incubators have already stepped up their engagement on a global level and are getting lots of positive feedback from the global community.
The entrepreneurship policy agenda is never simple. We all agree that successful entrepreneurship entails economic disruption, so how do policymakers support entrepreneurs, without provoking the instability that the region has fought so long and hard to keep in check?
The agenda ahead is not simple, but the region has come too far in building ecosystems over the last decade to let the progress wane. The willingness to focus on evidence-based policymaking bodes well for the future of this region.
Next week, I will report from opening day of the GEC in Moscow. If you are not coming - follow us on Twitter. For the rest of you – see you in Moscow.
photo credit: OuiShare
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