Monday was the start of the Global Entrepreneurship Congress (GEC) hosted in 2015 in Milan, Italy. This is the annual gathering of thousands of entrepreneurship champions from roughly 175 countries. It is the one time in the year when the world’s entrepreneurship community comes together to take the global entrepreneurial movement forward. Only at this time in Milan, can one find oneself in a taxi with Bob Dorf author of “The Startup Owner’s Manual” or chatting with the founder of the Global Entrepreneurship Index over coffee.
At the GEC, the Foundation participated in the second annual general meeting of the Global Entrepreneurship Research Network (GERN) which examined fundamental questions about fostering entrepreneurship, shared research findings, and looked to develop new joint research initiatives. GERN was founded in October 2013 to address the need for better entrepreneurship research.
During the course of this meeting there was a fascinating range of input from organisations ranging from the World Bank, OECD and USAID to think tanks in Romania and Germany. A number of interesting research resources were referenced including:
- An overview of key entrepreneurship indicators across 30 OECD countries in 2014
- A Summary of Entrepreneurship Education and Training Programmes around the world
These were the five most interesting take-aways from the GERN annual meeting:
- There is now increasing research showing how entrepreneurship (and the resulting formation of new firms) plays a vital role in the reduction of inequality. Results from Brazil indicate that the growing number of firms there were fundamental to the significant drop in inequality (gini co-efficient) since 1990.
- The demand for clear evidence of what works and doesn’t work with entrepreneurship programmes demands a more scientific approach. Randomised Control Trials have worked well in other sectors such as health and they represent an opportunity to bring the same level of rigour to the field of entrepreneurship.
- Accelerators Programmes have grown exponentially in the last few years. As recently as 2011 there were nearly no accelerators supporting start-ups and now in Europe and the US there are around a 1000 in each. Interestingly evidence showing the impact that accelerators have on entrepreneurs is still largely lacking.
- There are some very interesting models out there. In Indonesia the entrepreneurial role model, Dr Ir Ciptura, has a dream for millions of entrepreneurs in his country and is supporting this by creating an entire university focussed on entrepreneurship. The Universitas Ciptura slogan is “creating world-class entrepreneurs” and has 5000 students.
- Progress in the entrepreneurial field is going to require better data and we now have unique opportunities to obtain this much needed information. One example is an initiative led by Endeavor which plans to map the entrepreneurial ecosystem of 100 cities across the world. At the moment the only African city involved is Cairo.
In summary, there is much still to learn. In the spirit of learning, if you are interested in keeping up with developments at the GEC follow the action on #GEC2015