Global Entrepreneurship Week Comes to a Close -- Or Does It?

Jonathan Ortmans at the Startup Nations SummitAs it has for each November since 2008, Global Entrepreneurship Week has unleashed a huge ground swell of events and competitions around the world, raising awareness and rallying support for entrepreneurs along with the polices and programs that help them start and scale new firms. But while the cacophony has begun to fade, it is becoming increasingly apparent that the momentum generated during GEW continues to resonate well into the coming year.

Celebrated in 150 countries by millions of participants through more than 25,000 events and competitions, Global Entrepreneurship Week helped young startups emerge and take steps that will help them grow.

Breezometer, an app that measures real-time air quality and provides health recommendations to its users, is just one example. The Israeli startup emerged from a field of more than 600 startups from 38 countries to win the 2014 Startup Open and a trip to Milan for the 2015 Global Entrepreneurship Congress where it will continue to make connections to help it grow. Hundreds, if not thousands of similar competitions provided the chance for nascent entrepreneurs to sharpen their skills and make connections to potential cofounders, mentors and investors.

Government engagement through Global Entrepreneurship Week also was at an all time high with more than 150 heads of state and ministers from more than 75 countries actively involved.

In Morocco, U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden, Department of Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker and SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet were on hand at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit to demonstrate U.S. government support for entrepreneurs around the world. Meanwhile, on a smaller stage at the Meridian International Center in Washington, DC, entrepreneurs like Adam Zuckerman of Fosterly met with government officials like Lona Stoll of USAID to discuss how helping entrepreneurs in other countries can support U.S. foreign policy goals.

That and other policy discussions that began during the last week will also stretch into 2015.

A new Global Entrepreneurship Index that ranks 130 countries on the strength of their startup ecosystems was a main topic of conversation at policy-driven GEW events in places like Seoul, Korea where the Startup Nations Summit is still winding down Global Entrepreneurship Week with leaders from 45 Startup Nations efforts among 2,500 participants. These and other nations who care about better leveraging the economic potential of new firm formation are hiring entrepreneurship policy advisors with roots in startup communities and bringing them in-house. The results of this convergence of actors are reflected in legislatures for example adapting financial regulations to give crowdfunding a role in capital markets, or in revisiting frameworks for immigration policy, regulatory issues and intellectual property. These conversations will continue into the next year as earlier today, it was announced that Mexico City will host the 2015 Startup Nations Summit, thanks to the Ministry of the Economy of Mexico and its National Entrepreneurship Institute.

Of course, before then, the next Global Entrepreneurship Congress (GEC) will be held in Milan, Italy, and a new website was unveiled last week that is now accepting registrations. The event is heading into its seventh year after being launched in Kansas City at the Kauffman Foundation in 2009 and it continues to evolve as a platform for connecting startup communities with researchers and policymakers dedicated to supporting their growth. Anchored by the Start+Scale Forum and the Research+Policy Summit, the GEC includes dozens of related parallel events conducted by leading global organizations actively supporting the spread of an entrepreneurial culture—as well as local fringe events aimed at helping nascent entrepreneurs start and grow new firms.

These are just a few broad highlights. A full recap of Global Entrepreneurship Week, including official totals and other details will be made available through the GEW Impact Report scheduled to be released at the GEC next March.

Beyond a week-long flurry of activity, this globalization of entrepreneurship has brought an exciting explosion of programs, startup communities and investments. It has also exposed new gaps in our knowledge showing a paucity of data around what works and what does not in supporting nascent entrepreneurs and new firms preparing to scale. While the buzz subsides, the work of Global Entrepreneurship Network created by the communities and countries that celebrate GEW each November continues — figuring out how best to instill the entrepreneurial mindset in more people from every background, culture and discipline.

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jonathan ortmans
Jonathan Ortmans serves as president of the Public Forum Institute, an independent, nonpartisan, not-for-profit organization dedicated to creating the most advanced and effective means of fostering public discourse on major issues of the day.