On March 11-12, 2012, the Kauffman Foundation hosted the International Research and Policy Roundtable in Liverpool, U.K. in the context of the Global Entrepreneurship Congress. Experts from around the world were invited to submit papers on a range of topics related to high-growth entrepreneurship. Out of almost 200 abstracts submitted, 12 authors were invited to Liverpool to present papers covering a range of geographies and themes. These themes were grouped into four main areas:
- Facilitating the Development of Entrepreneurial Ecosystems
- Catalyzing Entrepreneurship and High-Growth Firms
- Improving Access to Finance for High-Growth Firms
- Overcoming Regulatory Barriers for High-Growth Firms
The conference agenda is available here (PDF).
Following the roundtable, which included other invited experts and guests, the initial findings from the roundtable were presented and discussed during one of the public sessions of the Global Entrepreneurship Congress. A Kauffman Foundation white paper will be released this summer which will pull together the key messages from these discussions as well as further research. Sign up here to be notified when the conference white paper is released.
The roundtable highlighted the importance of high-growth entrepreneurs to economic growth and job creation as well as catalyzing disruptive innovation. These innovations are found in sectors far beyond just high-technology and are created by both new and existing firms. Definitions of high-growth firms were debated in terms of whether to measure growth by employment or revenue and in terms of the appropriate time period to use for measurement. It was noted that the high-growth phases of a firm's life can be temporary and this has an impact in terms of how these firms are categorized.
While policies should ideally be empirically based, data are imperfect. The reality is that policies are often started and stopped for reasons unrelated to the evidence provided by data. The focus of policy shifts as the economic and political climate change. There can also be significant lags between the time at which a policy need is identified to when it is deployed and later evaluated.
Governments can't easily create high-growth firms themselves but they can increase the chances of success by creating the appropriate framework conditions and creating incentives to overcome market gaps. However, there is no "one size fits all" strategy. Significant differences exist both across and within countries and therefore policies and incentives need to be adapted to the local environment. The interaction between policies and other factors also must be taken into account. Experimentation and evaluation are therefore important before launching initiatives on a broader scale.
Further details about the policy roundtable discussions will be released in the Kauffman Foundation white paper later this year. The conference papers are available here