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The value in knowing what’s missing

The 2020 Knowledge Challenge RFP focuses on answering questions based on real-world experience and building an inclusive research pipeline that adds perspectives, experiences, knowledge, and methodologies to better understand what can advance entrepreneurship in the U.S.

You may be aware of a couple of facts about entrepreneurship already…

  • The rate of new businesses that create jobs each year is in a long-term decline.
  • Entrepreneurship opportunities, resources, and outcomes vary widely by race and gender.

Collectively, these trends are concerning.

It’s difficult, but not impossible to picture a “missing generation” of businesses that were not created due to lower startup rates and the lack of accessibility to entrepreneurial resources for women and entrepreneurs of color. It’s a bit harder to think about the jobs that were never created by businesses that were never started. It’s even harder still to imagine the range of new products, innovations, and services that we’re missing out on.

This is why the Entrepreneurship Research team at Kauffman is focused on answering questions based on real-world problems facing entrepreneurs and their communities. By asking entrepreneurs what barriers they faced in starting their business, we can ask more targeted and relevant questions of the research community. But we are still missing some real barriers – barriers that were so strong that they stopped entrepreneurship from ever occurring. What are the barriers that thwarted business formation? What are the jobs that weren’t created, the products and services that we don’t have?

With this in mind, the 2020 Kauffman Knowledge Challenge RFP aims to support activities that improve our understanding about entrepreneurship. In its second iteration, the Knowledge Challenge is designed to provide knowledge that can be used by people in decision-making positions – from policy makers to entrepreneur support organizations to entrepreneurs – around four focus areas:

  • What strategies can entrepreneurs use to start and grow a business?
  • How can entrepreneurs find, recruit, manage, and resource talent in an increasingly digital world?
  • What local conditions of ecosystems drive entrepreneurial outcomes?
  • How does entrepreneurship affect equality and mobility, and what policies shape the relationship?

In a similar vein, as part of the 2020 Knowledge Challenge we will award grants for programs and/or projects focused on making the pipeline of entrepreneurship researchers more inclusive. Inclusion in the research pipeline is a concern in many research fields. Lack of diversity among researchers can stifle or delay discovery, miss opportunities to create new knowledge, and limit applications, approaches, and contextualization of knowledge. Research outcomes and research innovations may serve some segments of the population but not all. Diversity can add perspective, experience, knowledge, and methodology. An inclusive pipeline of entrepreneurship researchers is important to generate diverse perspectives and questions to boost knowledge on the barriers facing entrepreneurs and their communities.