The ESHIP Summit 2017

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


Welcome to the inaugural ESHIP Summit in Kansas City, Missouri | The Kauffman Foundation

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.

Entrepreneurial ecosystem builders come from a variety of backgrounds and expertise, including entrepreneurs, mayors, economic developers, grassroots community leaders, university leaders, academics, philanthropists, corporate leaders and media. Entrepreneurial ecosystems thrive when people and resources are connected and working together to develop new approaches and solutions for serving entrepreneurs.

There is an opportunity to build a new model of economic development—one where the makers, the doers, the dreamers of our society are empowered and accelerated.

7 Insights from the ESHIP Summit | 2:54

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. The goal for this ESHIP Summit was to convene ecosystem builders, so that they may share their expertise and together, co-create, prototype and disseminate frameworks, tools, practices and metrics for building thriving entrepreneurial ecosystems.

At the inaugural ESHIP Summit in June 2017, 450 attendees from 48 states and 10 countries collaborated to craft actionable plans for activating and transforming their startup communities.

The Design Process


People + Culture = Everything | The ESHIP Summit 2017 | The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation

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.

Our Commitment


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 (playbook@kauffman.org) but this is your movement, and it will only work if we create it together.

Sign up below to receive key outcomes from 2017 and notifications about the 2018 convening.


Together, we can help break down barriers for entrepreneurs across the country.

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