Startup-focused policymakers and advisers gathered this weekend in Monterrey, Mexico, for the Startup Nations Summit (SNS) – and the official closing of Global Entrepreneurship Week.
The Startup Nations community has doubled in size this year, reflecting an increase in government interest to benchmark their efforts and properly evaluate the policies and programs being implemented around the world. The SNS produced a wealth of ideas from policymakers in more than 60 countries and in the weeks ahead, we hope to be able to share with you some of the most effective policies and programs being implemented – as well as new possibilities that can help communities around the world.
Against the backdrop of Startup Nations delegates sharing their experiences on various approaches to accelerate new and young firm formation in their countries, four individuals were recognized for their recent contributions in advancing entrepreneurship policy.
With global interest in the economic power of new and young firms expanding rapidly, the Startup Nations Awards were created to encourage and guide a new generation of policymakers committed to helping entrepreneurs flourish.
Dr. Choi Yanghee, South Korea’s Minister of Science, ICT and Future Planning, received the Startup Nations Award for National Policy Leadership. He is the driving force behind the Creative Economy Initiative, one of Korea’s biggest administrative goals. Through the program, Choi has supervised the establishment of 17 Centers for Creative Economy and Innovation across major cities and regions, matching each of the Centers with leading companies. The Centers began opening in September 2014.
More than 300 startups have already come through the Centers, and 203 firms have shared $31 million in investments to date. As of August, 42,000 people have already participated in training and seminars on business creation through the Centers.
Neelie Kroes, former vice president of the European Commission and a special envoy for startups in the Netherlands, received the Startup Nations Award for Groundbreaking Policy Thinking. She was recognized for her instrumental analysis, innovative policy approaches and groundbreaking program concepts which significantly expand the frontier of entrepreneurship policy thinking in the Netherlands and throughout Europe. Of note was her plan to start and stop her initiative in 18 months – a bold challenge to others looking to have a big punch fast.
For the past six years, Kroes has helped put the subject of startups firmly on the agendas of major companies, banks, investors, government entities and knowledge institutes. She served as vice president of the European Commission for the Digital Agenda and put the topic of startups high on the European agenda.
After stepping down from the European Commission, Kroes was appointed to lead StartupDelta, an initiative to make the Netherlands the best-connected startup ecosystem and in Europe’s top three for startups.
Kroes was a key influencer in the Startup Europe program that aims to strengthen the business environment for startups so that their ideas and businesses can start and grow in the European Union. Part of that program was the Startup Leaders Manifesto, with inspiring founders from, Skype, Tuenti and Rovio, that was presented to the Chairman of the European Council. The Startup Leaders Manifesto inspired other national startup communities to do the same in their countries. This led a movement within the EU to change the business climate in favor of startups.
At the local level, Bart De Wever, mayor of Antwerp, Belgium, received the Startup Nations Award for Local Policy Leadership. He and his team introduced the Antwerp Startup City Program in 2014, as an ambitious and all-encompassing response to the absence of a startup scene or city-wide program.
The Belgian city’s initiative has four main goals – to stimulate entrepreneurship, provide a premium incubator network, have virtual incubation and see growth and internationalization. The program has improved Antwerp’s digital infrastructure by installing wireless Internet connections, LoRa and open-sensor networks. An aspect of the program, the City of Things project, improves Antwerp’s “user experience,” and involves local startups in continuously improving the digital infrastructure.
The Startup Nations Summit was made possible by the commitment and leadership of Mexico’s National Institute of the Entrepreneur (INADEM). Since it was created in 2013, INADEM has worked to implement and refine programs addressing entrepreneurs’ needs – with a particular focus on businesses that contribute to solving societal problems through innovation. Its goals are: consolidating a healthy environment for the creation of new enterprises, particularly high-impact businesses; promoting an entrepreneurial culture among young people; building a network of specialized mentors; establishing new incubation models; helping fund the startup and expansion processes; and supporting startups and firms that are “born global.” In recognition of INADEM’s contributions to its country and to the Startup Nations movement, Enrique Jacob Rocha received the Startup Nations Award for Global Leadership.
Overall, the gathering included a mix of substantive working sessions on effective approaches to accelerate new and young firm formation, along with inspirational and informative speeches from top-notch entrepreneurs like Chris O’Neill, CEO of Evernote, Uri Levine, founder of Waze, and Daymond John, founder of FUBU and part of ABC-TV’s “Shark Tank.”
Silicon Valley, of course, cannot be replicated. There were unique factors that shaped it that will not likely happen in another place. However, as each community embraces its own strengths, the Startup Nations community of policymakers can play an important role in identifying smarter ways the public sector can encourage thriving entrepreneurial ecosystems. As we enter the nomination period for the 2016 Startup Nations Awards, let us know of the remarkable people and ideas being tested at local and national levels around the world.
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