If you could be in a room with people from around the world building entrepreneurial ecosystems, what would you ask?

I leave this week as part of an Australian delegation for Bahrain to participate in a global conference on building innovation ecosystems. The aim to learn, challenge my thinking, share perspectives from Australia, and bring back insights to benefit as many as possible.

With this in mind, I am keen to bring along your questions, commentary, and concerns.

Personal journey and expectations

In 2017, I completed an international Startup Catalyst tour, visiting 50 organisations supporting early-stage, high growth companies across seven cities in the United States and Canada. A few months later I returned to the US to attend the inaugural Kauffman EShip Summit where I met with 400 leaders from around the world to better understand perspectives on how entrepreneurs are supported in cities and regions.

These experiences helped form my views on the systems that support behind innovation ecosystems and how these can best be mapped and measured to support both practical application and policy. Through 2018, I applied these perspectives to academic research for my PhD and practical application, establishing businesses to map, measure, and support innovation ecosystems in Australia.

Now well into 2019, I prepare for another intensive experience with the Global Entrepreneurship Congress both as a participant and presenter. I join over 2,000 delegates from 1,200 organisations and 160 countries who are all focused on building innovation ecosystems:

“Every year, the Global Entrepreneurship Congress gathers together thousands of entrepreneurs, investors, researchers, policymakers and other startup champions from more than 170 countries to identify new ways of helping founders start and scale new ventures around the world. At the weeklong GEC, delegates make connections, gain insights, learn about new research, and leave ready to renew their programs, policy ideas or firm founder skills.”

In addition to those within governments, universities, corporations, and financial institutions that support entrepreneurs, I am particularly interested in engaging with institutions where supporting innovation ecosystem is their sole mandate. These include organisations such as the Kauffmann FoundationAspen Network and Development Entrepreneurs, and NESTA.

Topics covered

The presentations are diverse, and reflect topics that have come up in conversation over the past year. I have grouped a sample of the topics from the four days below based on general area of application:

Entrepreneur ecosystem building principles

  • Building one global entrepreneurial ecosystem;
  • Building healthier national ecosystems;
  • Disruption readiness;
  • Megatrends;

Entrepreneur ecosystem building practice

  • Practice of ecosystem building: Conducting an ecosystem gap analysis
  • Establishing high-impact mentoring programs
  • Access to growth capital: A look at the Bahrain investment market
  • Entrepreneurial success in tech: Why “moving fast and breaking things” seems exciting but won’t work
  • Lessons from mapping and measuring entrepreneur ecosystems
  • Entrepreneurship ecosystem canvas: A tool to map and design your ecosystem
  • Buyout entrepreneurship and M&A: Key drivers of growth
  • What works in driving enterprise growth via support services
  • Fintech and regulations
  • Future of work and employment pathways
  • Working with the United States on entrepreneurship promotion around the world

Case studies

  • Bahrain;
  • State of Palestine;
  • Turkey;
  • India;
  • Estonia
  • Australia

Entrepreneurship support organisation reports

  • European Commission programs for entrepreneurs
  • Kauffman foundation programs

Sector focus

  • The future of food and agripreneurship
  • Creative industries and entrepreneurship
  • Entrepreneurial space exploration: Supporting space startup ecosystems case for accelerators

Social impact areas

  • Entrepreneurship for transforming lives of resettled refugees;
  • Entrepreneurship for sustainable development goals : financial inclusion for women and youth
  • Fostering entrepreneurship mindset towards inclusive growth
  • Women entrepreneurs: Local advancement and global trends
  • Spotlight on youth entrepreneurship
  • How to make venture capital work for women entrepreneurs

Government and policy

  • Experimentation for better policies and programmes
  • E-regulations: Helping governments reduce entrepreneurship barriers
  • Policy design and implementations: Challenges and solutions
  • Leaders and feeders in policy
  • Influencing policy to enable startups to compete locally and globally

University, Corporate, and education

  • Entrepreneurship education and re-learning entrepreneurial thinking
  • Universities: What do unicorns cost?
  • What’s next in corporate innovation


  • Designing and world-class startup campus
  • Building ecosystems where unicorns grow
  • Building entrepreneur-centric communities
  • Donors and entrepreneurial programs

Your questions?

One of the points I reflected on in a recent QODE Brisbane presentation was how the Australian innovation ecosystem is emerging and evolving. One question that weighs on me is whether we can realise a paradigm shift, as much of what is observed feels like incremental step changes.

What are the factors that contribute to rapid change in entrepreneurial capabilities in other regions? What are the cultural histories, policy frameworks, and market conditions that facilitated the outcomes? With many attributes in place decades before we see the outcomes, what seed need to be planted now, or are there assets we can leverage that have been in place the whole time?

My focus has been on measurement to provide more immediate feedback. Ecosystem development is such a long-term process. What other short-term variables can we use to gain feedback? What other experiments are being conducted globally in this area?

These are some of my questions. What are yours?

What are your questions? If you could be in a room with people building entrepreneurial ecosystems, what would you ask?

Please add your questions and comments below as a conversation with others. I am keen to keep these in mind, have the experience benefit as many as possible, and look forward to providing feedback from the conference and when I return.

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