How Policy Can Support Network Development

uly oecd

As the research -- and buzz -- accumulates over the power of startup ecosystems, government officials at all levels are increasingly looking for ways to spur their growth. A new policy brief from the OECD outlines how policymakers can help fuel the growth of networks to help entrepreneurs -- particularly those among under-represented groups such as women and youth -- start and scale new firms.

The brief is focused on Europe but its recommendations could apply to just about anywhere.

The authors identify three types of public programs that look to build networks -- those that link entrepreneurs with other players in their ecosystem, those that develop networks around training services and those that expand international networks.

Several interesting recommendations are made to reassure those who might be inherently skeptical of government efforts to intervene in growing entrepreneurial ecosystems:

  • Policymakers should avoid creating too many competing networks but rather focus on providing high quality networks.
  • Policymakers should leverage existing community partners and communications channels.
  • Policymakers should design networking initiatives in such a way that the management and ownership of the network are transferred to the members.
  • Network structures and processes should be designed to ensure a high degree of interaction between the entrepreneurs in the network and the wider business community.

The brief also encouraged public policy to support the use of online entrepreneurial networks since they are cost-effective and easily-accessed. However, it noted that policymakers "need to ensure that the network is dynamic so that members remain engaged."


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