Ecosystem builders drive long-term change by supporting innovation and entrepreneurship.

They work for more innovation, more startups, and fewer barriers for the makers, the doers and the dreamers.

History of the Future

History of the Future | The ESHIP Summit 2017 | The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation

How do we bridge the gap between today’s world and a future with zero barriers for entrepreneurship and innovation? At the ESHIP Summit 2017, attendees visualized what a successful entrepreneurial ecosystem looks like and co-created the networks, frameworks, measures, and practices that will move us towards that future system.

The Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Building Playbook

Ecosystem Builder Playbook - Kauffman Foundation

At the Summit, the Kauffman Foundation distributed a first draft of the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Building Playbook and invited collaborators to share their insights, stories and constructive criticism. The long-term goal of the project is to create a simple, understandable, shareable guide for those who seek to foster entrepreneurship in their communities.

This playbook provides a general framework based on years of research and experience. However, it still needs validation from real practitioners in the field, practical stories of what has worked and what hasn't, and your expert insights. Find the digital version of the playbook below and we encourage you to mark it up, add your insights and share your stories.

Visit the Playbook >

Backcasting Insights

Welcome to 2025. Entrepreneur-led innovation has helped to reinvent society and shifted it from the Industrial Age to what is now commonly known as "The Interdependent Age."

The Backcasting activity asked attendees to imagine the future in year 2050. Attendees put themselves into an imaginary scenario and were engaged in small group conversations.

Scenario: TIME Magazine has just named "The Entrepreneurs" as the Person of the Half-Century, as it was the entrepreneurs that created innovations and new ways to address our early 2000’s crisis in healthcare, energy, education, transportation, the threat of global terrorism and nuclear weapons, governance, transportation, climate change, water scarcity, and pulled us out of the Great Recession and through the transition from the Industrial Age into what is now commonly called "The Interdependent Age." The world is flourishing, it is more just and equitable, thanks to so many entrepreneurs, building innovative ideas everywhere, to show us a better way and bringing our communities to life.

A reporter from TIME, calls you (the attendee) and wants to interview you about WHAT happened between 2017 and 2050 AND WHY what happened unleashed the entrepreneurial renaissance that brought about a fundamental remaking of human civilization—saving it from itself.

View the Assignment [PDF] >

View the Team Outputs >

Orange Teams: Backcasting Insights

Blue Teams: Backcasting Insights

Model Building Insights

Model Building Insights: Purple Teams

One of the best ways to surface knowledge, build relationships and generate strong solutions is to collaborate in new ways with people who hold different points of view.

The ecosystem model building activity was a small group activity that challenged attendees to build a prototype of an entrepreneurial ecosystem. They were given an assortment of supplies and some guiding worksheets and then set to work.

Download the Assignment [PDF] >

View the Team Outputs >

Science Fair

What are ecosystem builders up to? Several ecosystem builders at the ESHIP Summit volunteered to showcase the projects, research, initiatives, and programs in their communities that help facilitate entrepreneurship.

Explore the Science Fair presentations >

Science Fair Outputs | The ESHIP Summit 2017 | Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation

Science Fair Outputs | The ESHIP Summit 2017 | Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation