BRITAIN, a fierce competitor in the global race to develop the best startup ecosystem in the world, will soon host delegations of startup leaders from more than 100 countries in an effort to find the fastest path to the finish line.
Entrepreneurship promotion is no longer hopelessly intertwined with the discussion of “small and medium enterprises” (SMEs). Instead, it is now focused on building resourceful systems that accelerate any nation’s talent to introduce new disruptive ideas and firms that turn them into innovations that change lives and drive markets. Such an effort is screaming for cross-border collaboration and leadership and the Global Entrepreneurship Congress – occurring this March in Liverpool – promises a global conversation on how to get there.
This appreciation for the impact of entrepreneurship is not limited to the “startup economies” of the world. According to the World Bank’s Doing Business report, the majority (66 per cent) of developing economies reformed business regulation in 2010 – suggesting widespread effort around the world to build environments conducive to business creation and growth. The top of the list looks about what you would expect – entrepreneurial economies like Singapore, the United States, Denmark and the United Kingdom appear in the top 10. But look at the list of countries that have most improved the ease of doing business in the last year, and you will see countries of all sizes and from every part of the world, including: Morocco, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Cape Verde, the Republic of Korea, Armenia and Colombia.
Such attention around the world on the subject of business creation – beyond SMEs – is hardly surprising. New firms are the greatest source of new wealth for struggling economies and a powerful weapon against poverty. Not only are young firms the source of most new jobs, but they also disrupt existing industries, forcing older firms to remain on their toes – or wither away.
In order to reach the finish line, countries like the UK are not only stimulating enterprise through local efforts, but also figuring out how to attract the world’s best entrepreneurs, investors and support systems. Think of the Global Entrepreneur Programme within UK Trade & Investment, or the new fast track visa arrangements for high-value investors and entrepreneurs to settle permanently in the UK.
That is why, since its inception at the Kauffman Foundation in Kansas City in 2009, the Global Entrepreneurship Congress has sought to support startup champions from around the world – empowering entrepreneurs, investors, researchers and policymakers to work together to bring ideas to life, drive economic growth and expand human welfare. Following successful events in Dubai (2010) and Shanghai (2011), Liverpool promises to raise the bar yet again, adding some of the world’s smartest economic researchers and brightest players – including household names in entrepreneurship – from successful startup ecosystems. In fact, Liverpool has helped expand the Congress into a veritable festival of entrepreneurship – with nearly 40 relevant fringe events – showcasing the likes of Sir Richard Branson, the leadership of the Kauffman Foundation and ministers from the UK and beyond.
Less than two months away, the countdown for the Global Entrepreneurship Congress has started. The growing cacophony of startup networks around the world will fill Liverpool and provide a big boost to Britain’s burgeoning startup fever. As the chair and founder of the Congress, I will be there – I hope you will too.
Jonathan Ortmans is chair and founder of the Global Entrepreneurship Congress, senior fellow of the Kauffman Foundation and president of The Public Forum Institute.