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2017 ESHIP Summit

The 2017 ESHIP Summit

The ESHIP Summit 2017 was the Kauffman Foundation's inaugural global gathering of leaders working to facilitate and spread entrepreneurship through the creation of entrepreneurial ecosystems. 450 attendees from 48 states and 9 countries.

How do we empower the makers, the doers, the dreamers of our society?

7 Insights from the ESHIP Summit | 2:54

Please note that the following content is specific to the 2017 ESHIP Summit. Updates for the 2020 convening can be found here.

The ESHIP Summit 2017 was the Kauffman Foundation’s inaugural global gathering of leaders working to facilitate and spread entrepreneurship through the creation of entrepreneurial ecosystems. 450 attendees from 48 states and 9 countries—entrepreneurs, mayors, economic developers, grassroots community leaders, university leaders, academics, philanthropists, corporate leaders, and media—collaborated to create actionable plans for activating and transforming startup communities here in Kansas City, Missouri.

The ESHIP Summit 2017 | 3:31

Entrepreneurial ecosystems thrive when people and resources are connected and working together to develop new approaches and solutions for serving entrepreneurs. During the Summit, attendees collaborated to emerge and elevate the role of the ecosystem builder, celebrate its diversity and energize the field while beginning to craft actionable plans and tools to activate and transform their entrepreneurial communities.

Their work and all of the output of the 2017 Summit can be found on this site. We invite you to explore, share and engage, as we co-create this emerging field together.

ESHIP Summit 2017 Wall

Analysis, diversity, collisions, creativity, collaboration, serendipity, intentionality, and openness. The ESHIP Summit was designed to help ecosystem builders find their tribe, share their expertise, and co-create blueprints for building entrepreneurial ecosystems. Every aspect of the ESHIP Summit—the rhetoric, space, art, activities—was purposefully planned to get attendees out of their comfort zone and immersed in new contexts and conversations about entrepreneurship as a community effort.


Like in all ecosystems, the success of this community will have many mothers and fathers. We must work together to create change by generating and nurturing relationships that will build this movement. In that, the Kauffman Foundation is committed to hosting the ESHIP Summit in 2018 and 2019 to convene the community and further foster relationships that co-lead the movement.

We’re also committed to maintain the Playbook which provides a general framework based on years of research and experience. Our goal is to create a simple, understandable, shareable guide for those who seek to foster entrepreneurship in their communities. We invite you to connect, converse and collaborate with us on the Playbook to develop and design new knowledge, strategies, and tools that will help move our entrepreneurial communities forward.

We’ll also start doing more work alongside you, directly in your communities, starting in 2018, to help fortify ecosystems. The best way to stay engaged with us is to share more of what you’re working on through your playbook feedback and stories you share. Help us build the playbook and learn about all the good work you are doing. We want you to keep sharing with us what you’re learning, what’s working, what isn’t, what you need help with, but this is your movement, and it will only work if we create it together.

Attendees and National Partners

ESHIP Summit 2017 Who Was There

Diversity fuels creativity, and through creativity, innovation emerges. Ecosystem builders come from diverse fields, backgrounds, and regions but all share a common vision: democratize opportunity and create a community and culture of collaboration. Entrepreneurs, philanthropists, policymakers, researchers, economic developers, grassroots community leaders, academics, corporate leaders, and media from 48 U.S. states, D.C., Puerto Rico, and 10 countries were convened at the ESHIP Summit. These ecosystem builders pioneered tools, metrics, and principles to create actionable plans for developing entrepreneurial ecosystems.

ESHIP Summit was co-created with 58 national resource providers. We’re grateful for their efforts to help curate attendees and refine the program. If you’re interested in becoming a partner and your organization directly supports entrepreneurial ecosystem builders, please contact us.

ESHIP Summit 2017 Partner Logo Wall

Kansas City, Missouri

Kansas City

Historically known for jazz and BBQ, Kansas City—like many of the communities represented at the ESHIP Summit—is reimagining what it can be. Major growth in the entrepreneurial ecosystem has been catalyzed by the Big 5 Initiative, coupled with the work of countless organizations and a mayor who boldly aims to make the community “America’s Most Entrepreneurial City.”

Signs of progress are everywhere. Drawing on the heritage of homegrown companies like SprintGarmin, and Cerner, Kansas City recently saw one of the largest increases in tech startup density of any U.S. metro. Entrepreneur support organizations and programs like 1 Million Cupsthe Angel Capital AssociationKauffman FastTracPipeline EntrepreneursU.S. SourceLink, and the Kauffman Foundation all call Kansas City home. Growth in new companies is being fueled by more than $1 billion invested in downtown over the last five years, 200+ entrepreneur support organizations, and one of the nation’s lowest costs of living.

This growth and energy combined with investments in the city’s brand new streetcar system, an ambitious Smart Cities initiative, and the world’s greenest residential development currently rising on the historic banks of the Missouri River, all made Kansas City the perfect place for the ESHIP Summit.