It’s a Wrap: 2014 Sees Rapid Growth in Demand for Better Research and Policy


The past year has brought a number of developments on the entrepreneurship research and policy front. Below are just a few of the highlights.

Beyond PDE itself enjoying a new home and facelift, 2014 also brought a new series of Entrepreneurship Policy Digests intended to summarize research findings and policy recommendations on a variety of relevant topics like startup visas and immigration reform, the importance of young firms, payroll tax holidays, local entrepreneurship promotion, and more.

The 2014 Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity showed that as the national economy continued to rebound and employment levels climbed, the rate of entrepreneurial activity declined in the previous year prompting questions from Congress as to why.

In fact, there was a broadened and growing demand on behalf of policymakers throughout for more data and better analysis around what entrepreneurship promotion efforts – both policies and programs – are the most effective. From Washington, DC’s Capitol Hill to Governors and Mayors offices throughout the country—not to mention outside the U.S. from New Zealand to Nova Scotia interest abounded. While many would argue that there is still a general deficiency on this front, several new efforts started to gain traction this year.

Startup Nations, a group of entrepreneurship policy advisors modeled after Startup America, has expanded to 34 countries—searching for smarter ways their governments can help new firms start, scale, create jobs and fuel economic growth.

2014 also saw the first formal meeting of the Global Entrepreneurship Research Network (GERN), an effort to align research funded by the Kauffman Foundation, the World Bank, Endeavor Insight, NESTA in the UK and many more. GERN members took many of their cues from Startup Nations policy advisors eager to point out where there is a paucity of data or analysis needed for sound public policymaking usually around whether certain government domestic policy experiments are failing or succeeding. GERN established a new global platform for discussing data-driven approaches to policy to support nascent entrepreneurs and early-stage startups and most importantly, what evidence is missing and how private sector research funders could collect and analyze data in an effort to facilitate more evidence-based policymaking in the field.

As the successes of 2014 shift to the promise of 2015, we thank you for following the Policy Dialogue on Entrepreneurship and offer below the 15 most popular posts of 2014.  We will be back on January 5, 2015.

  1. Cities Take the Lead
    January 6, 2014
    While we are seeing more attention to addressing the paucity of useful national entrepreneurship data globally, efforts to develop comparable city-level information have been less of a focus with only a handful of global city rankings. How are city leaders now moving beyond dated “cluster and technology park” thinking to appeal to entrepreneurs and investors?
  2. You Can't Scale What You Don't Start
    October 7, 2014
    In his new book, Zero to One, the entrepreneur and investor Peter Thiel talks about the importance of new companies to economic and social progress. Such progress depends on more people starting companies; more people looking for a better way to do things. Unfortunately, the latest data on this score are not encouraging.
  3. A Way of Life in Medellin
    May 12, 2014
    Last month, an international selection committee picked Medellín, Colombia, to host the Global Entrepreneurship Congress in March 2016.  Ahead of my visit there later this week, it is easy to see why.  Medellín stands out not just as a city with an entrepreneurial mindset but as a place where new firm formation is a way of life.
  4. How Did Your State Fare in the Bloomberg Rankings? 
    January 6, 2014
    One new trend in innovation and entrepreneurship data is to produce a comprehensive picture of the ecosystem. Bloomberg followed this practice and recently analyzed data from each U.S. state and the District of Columbia to rank them on innovation. Washington came out on top as the top state. It was followed by (in order): California, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Oregon.
  5. Maximizing Dividends from Female Entrepreneurs
    July 7, 2014
    Those of us living in the United States are reminded each Independence Day of the many blessings we enjoy in terms of equality and individual liberty. The level of cultural capital for entrepreneurs is obviously linked to a nation’s cultural norms, stigmas and role models – or lack thereof. Nowhere is this more evident than in the world of female entrepreneurship where unaddressed challenges allow women’s creativity, problem-solving capacity and even key science and technology skills to lay idle in our societies.
  6. A Mindset Shift in Mexico
    July 14, 2014
    Long gone are the days when the government’s promotion of the private sector focused exclusively on making Mexico a top manufacturing destination. Today, it is not unusual for startup-savvy civil servants to talk rather of the democratization of manufacturing through the entrepreneurial “maker movement.” In general, the public sector has begun making the case for a competitive Mexico by highlighting its entrepreneurs’ strong links to both the North and South, through its various free trade agreements and diaspora.
  7. The Secret to Building Strong Ecosystems
    October 6, 2014
    Policymakers eager to drive economic growth and innovation have long talked about approaches to become “the next Silicon Valley” – many perhaps without fully understanding what that really means or takes.  While the understanding is growing that Silicon Valley can’t be copied, there is a growing interest in building local and regional ecosystems that empower entrepreneurs to help them start and scale new firms.
  8. The Golden Years Are Here at Last
    October 20, 2014
    We all relish the optimistic curiosity and energy of young people testing ideas and exploring better ways of doing things. However, successful new ventures are invariably formed by teams that bring together not just disruptive thinkers, but experienced people with unique knowledge of their industry. In honor of my mother having turned 80 this year, I look today at the wise “third age” or “encore” entrepreneurs and how they are shifting the paradigm of “retirement” in our society.
  9. Young Entrepreneurs Rebranding Africa
    August 11, 2014
    President Obama's summit last week with African leaders in Washington, D.C., when not distracted by the Ebola outbreak, focused as expected on investment opportunities for American businesses in the energy sector. And yet, it was clear the nature of our interface is changing forever on the continent where a new generation of African job creators and their startups are the driving phenomenon in Africa’s growth trajectory.
  10. How Much Does Coding Literacy Matter
    October 27, 2014
    Coding has become a “must” skill in a number of successful scale-ups as computer programmers operationalize the smooth and agile flow of information, making a plethora of solutions possible. Given its escalating role in bringing new economically viable businesses to life, what are we doing to better equip society and should policymakers escalate coding education as a new national priority?
  11. Washington Wants to Reorganize to Serve Entrepreneurs
    January 13, 2014
    New legislation introduced this month in the Senate could turn what was anticipated to be a sleepy start on Capitol Hill for entrepreneurship advocates into a fresh look at how Washington, DC, helps entrepreneurs and new firms.
  12. From the Entrepreneurs' Garage to the Dinner Table
    June 30, 2014
    Entrepreneurs around the world are driving a new agricultural revolution to address the world’s dual food security and environmental challenges through sustainable agriculture technology, or “AgTech”. We need many more of them.
  13. Angel Investors Spread Their Wings
    March 31, 2014
    Referred to as “mentor financing”, business angels continue to make great contributions to startups. Last week, I talked with some of them in Washington, DC, about the latest trends in angel investor pools outside the United States. Encouraged by improving policy frameworks, I found that they are now spreading their wisdom and seed capital to new parts of the world.
  14. A Startup Nations Network for Policymakers
    June 9, 2014
    Sharing the premise that all boats rise on an incoming tide, a small group of startup policy advisors has emerged to find smarter ways their governments can help new firms start, scale, create jobs and fuel economic growth. I take a look at why Startup Nations emerged and the potential impact it can have in fostering smarter decision-making on behalf of new entrepreneurs.
  15. The Next Chapter for America’s Entrepreneurial Growth Agenda
    February 24, 2014
    With the economy finally gaining steam after four years of a stop-and-start recovery, the Kauffman Foundation kicked off its “America's New Entrepreneurial Growth Initiative” at the fifth annual State of Entrepreneurship Address. The main output will be a New Entrepreneurial Growth Agenda by early 2016.
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