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[liberationtech] Startup Global

Yosem Companys companys at
Fri Mar 8 12:00:49 PST 2013

Startup Global

Posted by: Jonathan Ortmans<> on 
February 25, 2013 Source: Policy Dialogue on Entrepreneurship


Thousands of people from 135 countries have already confirmed their 
participation for next month’s week-long Global Entrepreneurship Congress<> (GEC) 
and festival in Rio de Janeiro. As chair of the GEC for the past few years, 
I have witnessed the emergence of this global platform for collaboration 
among entrepreneurs, their investors and national leaders held outside the 
United States. So what happens at the GEC?

What is interesting about this event is its reach and scale and the 
evidence it provides of the democratization of entrepreneurship - the 
phenomenon of startups, and the communities that foster them springing up 
in the most unexpected corners of the globe. Governments from all corners 
have been racing to make their nations more attractive to entrepreneurs. 
The list of countries embarrassed into improving “ease of doing business” 
in the latest World Bank rankings lists nations of all economic 
classifications. This is why at the GEC in Rio next month, while Brazilian 
entrepreneurial prowess will be on show, delegates will experience not an 
all Brazilian or American show, but a global one focused on startup cities, 
experiential education, startup legislation, new models for where 
entrepreneurs can get their money, and an array of the most effective 
practical efforts in the world— from the likes of Kauffman and Endeavor—to 
help entrepreneurs scale.

This globalization of entrepreneurship has taken place not vertically but 
mainly horizontally. Over the past few years, the GEC has gathered many 
entrepreneurs and leaders in the startup community who are quick to dismiss 
government as irrelevant to their success. It has also welcomed government 
leaders uninformed about how their existing informal startup communities 
are already out there making things happen. In Rio, Brad Feld, author of 
“Startup Communities,” reminded us that a startup revolution has been and 
should continue to be led by entrepreneurs. At the same time, staff from 
governments that are exploring legislative and regulatory steps to help 
startups reminded us it is government that sets the rules and 
incentives—and that while public sector employees may not look the part, 
entrepreneurs should be careful not to be so dismissive. The GEC in Rio 
next month hopes to bring the two together: to find where top down and 
bottom up meet in developed, emerging and underdeveloped economies.

This annual Congress started in Kansas City in 2009, when the Kauffman 
Foundation convened the very first GEC with the goal of learning from 
entrepreneurship experts from 60 countries, particularly those pioneer 
leaders implementing the Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW)<> initiative 
among their fellow citizens. Since then, the GEC has grown rapidly to a 
gathering that empowers serial and new entrepreneurs, investors, 
researchers and policymakers to work together to bring ideas to life and 
drive economic growth. When the second GEC took place in Dubai, 
entrepreneurship champions from 90 countries convened under the patronage 
of Sheikh Nahayan Mabarek Al Nahayan, the Minister for Higher Education and 
Technology in the UAE. Shanghai hosted the GEC in 2011, gathering 1,000 
leaders from 100 countries and introduced the idea of the world getting a 
thorough introduction to the entrepreneurial ecosystem of the Host country. 
High-ranking Chinese government officials, such as Yan Junqi, the vice 
chairwoman of the standing committee of the National People's Congress of 
China and the country’s Minister for Science and Technology interacted with 
a number of native entrepreneurs and angel investors who had been leading 
the country’s new wave of entrepreneurial activity.

Most recently in 2012, as noted in the Economist<>, 
Liverpool raised the bar again, adding economic researchers and bright 
personalities to the GEC—including the likes of Richard Branson, founder 
and chairman of the Virgin Group which consists of more than 400 companies. 
As part of Liverpool’s own economic renaissance, the city expanded the 
Congress into a true festival of entrepreneurship with nearly 80 fringe 
events held around the town. Ideas floated among entrepreneurs, 
researchers, investors and government officials from 125 countries about 
everything from seeding startup communities to smarter national policies.

This year in Rio, a new addition will be the national advisory boards 
attending that steer efforts through GEW to build more robust 
entrepreneurial ecosystems in neighborhoods and cities around the world. 
The GEC this year has also attracted collaborations with global 
entrepreneurial support organizations such as the Startup Weekend 
Organizers Summit (SoSummit) which will kick start everything on Saturday, 
March 16—bringing more than 150 organizers from over 100+ communities 
around the world for a three-day gathering of the organizers behind the 
Startup Weekend movement.

The Congress will open on March 18th with an event hosted by Dell called 
“Women as a Strategic Advantage: to Excel in Business.” Building off Dell’s 
successful Women’s Entrepreneur Network (DWEN<>), 
this event will discuss how technology can help women entrepreneurs 
succeed. In the afternoon, the GEC will continue the tradition started in 
Liverpool of opening with a GEC policy forum<> focusing 
on ideas to foster more startups and faster scale-ups. More countries are 
streamlining regulations and implementing policies such as new legislation 
to facilitate the immigration of entrepreneurial talent and the inflow of 
startup capital. This summit offers policymakers an opportunity to exchange 
innovative policy ideas and approaches. March 18th will also offer—for 
those getting used to a new time zone—a relaxing option of participating in 
an entrepreneurship film festival which will run a feast of full production 
films made about entrepreneurs and investors with filmmakers attending from 
Iceland to the United States.

The annual GEC Summit <> will open on 
March 19th and feature dozens of experts from across the globe sharing 
common experiences in building startup communities, evaluating effective 
interventions and experiential learning programs that really help 
entrepreneurs, airing new models for financing growth and how to scale up 
after starting up.

While some delegates go behind closed doors for executive sessions on March 
20 and 21, the majority of delegates will find themselves spoiled for 
choice with more than 50 event options. For example, GEC participants will 
have an opportunity to learn about the Kauffman Foundation´s Ice House 
Entrepreneurship Program. Kauffman FastTrac <> will in 
turn share an overview of Alana Muller’s “Coffee Lunch Coffee” networking 
concept–an accessible, relevant, immediately actionable approach to help 
you formulate a strategic mindset around networking. Various delegations 
are hosting educational events. For example, the Peruvian Delegation to the 
GEC 2013 will share information about new initiatives in the 
entrepreneurial ecosystem in Peru, including: FINCyT<>
, FIDECOM <> and Startup 
Peru <>. March 20th will also see the launch of ERLY 
Stage, a new media platform with a focus on the global market for education 
technology startups. Also on March 20th will be “Day 1” where successful 
entrepreneurs will share their stories about their idea, their first big 
sale and other factors that enabled their companies to scale.

On Thursday, March 21, the Cleantech Open<> will 
host a discussion of cleantech innovation in Latin America, a region that 
represents a major global opportunity for entrepreneurs in the field. There 
will be examples of breakthrough innovations that aim to tackle today’s 
most pressing environmental and energy challenges, including those from 
finalists and partners from the GEW Cleantech Open Global Ideas 
Competition. Thursday will also offer “Entrepreneurship 2.0: Taking Your 
Local Ecosystem to the Next Level” an interactive workshop that will allow 
delegates to take home new tools and resources.

These are just a few of the activities happening in Rio around the Global 
Entrepreneurship Congress. There will be plenty of chances to hear from and 
network with opinion leaders like Brad Feld <>, 
co-founder and mentor at TechStars, Jeff Hoffman, co-founder of, Nairobi ecosystem driver Mbwana Allily, founder and managing 
partner at Savannah Fund and many more. While the types of events and 
activities vary widely, they all share a common thread—how to empower 
entrepreneurs in any part of the world and enable them to start and grow 
firms that create jobs and improve lives.

All this will happen at the core of the city so participants from different 
sectors can easily mingle on the sidelines. Unlike most international 
conventions in the city, like the Rio+20 Summit in Rio last June, the GEC 
will not be held at a convention center outside of town but on the water in 
a facility on the Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon converted into a “startup 
village.” Locals were reluctant to ask impatient startup junkies to spend 
any time in cabs and so even sessions not held in the Lagoon will be 
integrated into the heart of Rio and wherever possible be walking distance 
from the GEC startup village.

As many nations continue to face considerable economic challenges, there is 
a rising sense of urgency around jump-starting entrepreneurial growth. The 
GEC provides a platform for cross-border collaboration around the world in 
high-growth entrepreneurship. It also bridges a gap in the worldwide 
entrepreneurship movement by bringing bottom-up voices together with 
top-down public sector leadership. An important milestone in 
entrepreneurship thinking will be achieved in Rio next month. (For more 
information visit: <>. GEC reached 
capacity a few weeks ago, but PDE readers interested in participating, add 
a comment on this blog and we will follow up).

See more at:
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