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Global Entrepreneurship Week

A Shot of Adrenaline from Global Startup Communities

by Jonathan Ortmans, President of Global Entrepreneurship Week

Traditional business incubators have not only faced financial challenges in recent years but also criticism that they are more like executive office suites rather than hubs of creative entrepreneurs churning out new firms or helping them fail fast. Change has come not from top-down redesign, but from the bottom up as a huge new generation of open, creative and socially motivated entrepreneurs have formed startup communities in cities across the globe and are reinventing accelerators and incubators.

These communities are acting as breeding grounds for new firms and helping them graduate to the next level. A quick look at one program, Startup Weekend, shows that 16 percent of its companies or alumni have subsequently gone through an incubator or accelerator. In Japan, these communities create a pipeline for the country’s Open Network Lab. In Lithuania, they feed talent to Startup Highway. And the global applicant pool for Start-Up Chile is creating pipelines to the world.

This should not surprise us. Entrepreneurship has become democratized—driven by the new power of communications technology, informal networks and the popularity of a creative class—helping the idea of ‘making a job instead of  'taking a job’ take root in all corners of the world. This has been most evident in Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) each November where millions of people in 125 countries participate in nearly 40,000 competitions, activities and events to test their own aptitude and appetite for joining a startup team. Last year, winners of the largest GEW events touched almost every continent—with entrepreneurs and startups from the U.S., Hong Kong, South Africa, Germany and Chile.

In November 2012, GEW will again show how various startup communities breed ever more innovative companies. For example, Startup Weekend will create more than 1,000 startup teams in 120 cities on the two weekends book-ending GEW. Meanwhile, colleges and universities with incubators or accelerator programs, such as Finland’s Startup Sauna in Aalto University, will be combing for student-led ventures while they host GEW events, activities and competitions.

Examples such as these and tens of thousands of other GEW activities help nascent entrepreneurs step quickly through the iterative process of racing a new concept to market or recycling its people and ideas in an entirely unexpected direction—feeding the rapidly expanding and evolving global incubator and accelerator movement and leading to a new generation of creative hubs that know no national boundaries.

Five Ways to Get Involved in Global Entrepreneurship Week

1. Host your own event during GEW: Hundreds of incubators host activities, events and competitions to reach out to their communities during GEW—startup showcases, pitch contests, networking receptions, drop-ins, meet and greets and more. Visit, to register as a partner and add your activity.

2. Scout for talented entrepreneurs at local GEW competitions: With approximately 40,000 activities happening in 125 countries, there is likely to be something happening near you—and competitions always need judges. Search the online activities database or connect directly with your country’s host organization to find the best activities and competitions in your area.

3. Engage & Educate Policymakers: Reach out to elected officials and other public sector leaders to explain the policy priorities for entrepreneurs to launch and grow startups that create jobs and generate wealth.

4. Connect with Media: Use GEW as a hook to attract the interest of reporters and media outlets. Announce a new class of startups, share successes of your current group, launch new programs or announce new hires.

5. Serve as a delegate to the Global Entrepreneurship Congress in Brazil: OK, so this one you can’t do until March 2013. The Global Entrepreneurship Congress is an inter-disciplinary gathering of startup champions from around the world. During the last Congress, 3,000 participants were in Liverpool to listen to Richard Branson and other entrepreneurs, investors, researchers and policymakers. Visit Rio de Janiero in March and join the leaders from each of the 125 national GEW campaigns as official delegates. Learn more at
Published on 14-10-2012 16:08 by David Tee. 1371 page views

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