A plan for the Global Entrepreneurship Network in Australia
Where anyone who is keen can connect and give it a go.
I have accepted the role as the Managing Director Australia for the Global Entrepreneurship Network, building on the work of others including the previous Managing Director Al Connally.
I am keen for your input and have set up a feedback form on Startup Status to hear your thoughts.
Below is an outline GEN, an initial vision and plan for Australia, and how you might be involved.
What is the Global Entrepreneurship Network?
The Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN) is a global community of over 170 countries focused on supporting entrepreneurial activity. The most prominent expression of GEN is Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) which is a global focus on entrepreneurial activity over 10 days from 11 to 17 November. Other examples include the global events of Global Entrepreneurship Congress and the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, and local programs such as Startup Huddle being delivered in Mandurah, WA.
These and other programs aim to achieve outcomes for entrepreneur communities around the world in four areas:
- Celebrate — raising awareness of successful outcomes for entrepreneurs and those who support them;
- Understand — developing and supporting research to understand effective approaches for successful entrepreneur activity;
- Support — Supporting entrepreneurs through programs, events, and capability building for entrepreneur support leaders; and
- Connect — Making local and global connections to facilitate knowledge sharing and helping entrepreneurs scale.
GEN is managed and administered by a core group of leaders and delivered in each country by a volunteer team that includes the Managing Director, a Global Entrepreneurship Week Host, and other national activators.
This can vary by country, which is where we come in.
Vision and Strategy
There are many in Australia supporting entrepreneurial activity at local, state and national levels. Part of my work over the past few years has been identifying who supports early-stage entrepreneurs and maintaining a national map at your.startupstatus.co.
Organisations such as StartupAUS and Innovation Science Australia provide key roles in advocacy and advisory. Other industry groups, state government programs, universities, and service providers play a role often with specific sector, technology, or regional focus. Ecosystem leaders and venture capital continues to get the job done in regions where they operate. All support and provide leadership and direction.
And yet there remains a need for a national innovation narrative, noted by both government for industry and private sector for government. The challenge and opportunity is greater than any one perspective. The idea is that the Global Entrepreneurship Network can play a part in supporting a national narrative.
There are many areas that support entrepreneurs, from global talent attraction, local talent development including high schools and higher education, increasing and diversifying investment, raising public awareness, commercialising research, and more. The challenge is complex, the work is significant, and the stakeholders are diverse.
That said, we need to focus where we feel we can add the most value.
We are focusing the GEN Australia to four areas:
- Inclusive opportunity — everyone can give it a go: A country where everyone who is keen can give it a go, including all regions, communities, ages, abilities, genders, nationalities, and cultures.
- A national voice — individual strengths for collective outcome: With a strong national brand for Australian entrepreneurship supporting each program, city, and state narratives. The brand supports aligned advocacy within Australia and promotion outside Australia.
- A shared understanding — mapping, measurement, and making the case: We can know the state of Australian entrepreneurship, including current events and activities, the state of policy, and measurement of impact and outcomes, and we use this understanding for more rapid policy and program decisions.
- Global connections through individual relationships: Each region has a connection with a global sister-precinct aligned with local focus areas. Moving beyond MOUs, there is a direct relationship at the hub and individual leader level with practical examples of shared outcomes focused on a speciality for sector, technology, or impact area.
This vision is extensive and many are actively contributing across Australia in significant ways. We aim to support outcomes through the following initiatives:
1. Local and national events repository
Events are key for awareness, education, and networking. Many entrepreneurs point to a key event or random collision that accelerates their journey. It can be a challenge to filter through to find the events that matter, ensure everyone is aware of opportunities, align efforts in regions, understand impacts from activities, and raise the local and global profile of activities.
The Global Entrepreneurship Week in November is a key part of the GEN portfolio. Part of GEW is tracking the number of events that happen across the nation during this time. We will use this year’s event to trial a central repository of entrepreneur-related events. These can be filtered by region, technology, and impact area. The aim is to support and integrate with existing approaches to better understand and share a national perspective.
2. Entrepreneur ecosystem leader capability and capacity
Entrepreneur ecosystems come down to people and relationships. A national vision can only be achieved through the work of many, and building individual capability and capacity is essential.
The aim is to support and equip the community of ecosystem leaders through connections, webinars, and events. This will align and support existing events and programs with a focus on the professional development of ecosystem leaders. Ecosystem building is an emerging and dynamic profession. Better equipped and sustainable leaders provide better support for more founders.
This includes attracting support for a cohort to the 2020 Global Entrepreneurship Congress, which brings together over 2,000 delegates from 170 countries focused on supporting entrepreneur outcomes in their respective regions. My attendance in 2019 in Bahrain was instrumental and the intent is that more can benefit.
3. Ecosystem actor database and global connectivity
A year ago I published the map at your.startupstatus.co to get a collective understanding of supporting actors. This builds on other work including: Techboard, Decode Systems, RamenLife, Melbourne Laneways;local models such as Geemap and Innovate Noosa; and national surveys such as Startup Muster, Startup Genome, and the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor.
We will continue this effort, incorporating connections from the Global Entrepreneurship Network to map global connections between regions at the hub level. The platform at Startup Status was developed to fill a gap and progress the conversation. We are platform agnostic and will pursue, support, and align with national frameworks to achieve the best outcome regardless of platform or technology.
4. Global Entrepreneurship Week
GEW provides an opportunity to mobilise action and attention. It is in two months and historically has not been a major national focus. This year the aim is to put in basic approaches for activity data capture and have a national narrative we can build on for future years.
Why me and next steps
A year ago I hit the road to better understand how to support entrepreneur activities and collect data for a PhD. We developed a platform to help hubs measure impact over time, founded Startup Status as a not for profit for regional entrepreneur outcomes, and supported the creation of regional entrepreneurial ecosystems. We are working with project teams with the Kauffman Foundation around entrepreneur ecosystem goals and identifying what is working at national levels to share, learn, and apply lessons in Australia. These efforts are part of a bigger picture towards addressing systemic challenges in society through entrepreneurial activity.
The GEN role aligns with these efforts. As a volunteer position, the limits of time and resources encourages working through others who are achieving related outcomes. There are many aspects to consider, much work to be done, and Australia is a large country.
I also begin by looking for my replacement. My aim is to build on the base and create momentum, while also creating space for others to come in an make the position their own. The immediate next steps are to form the company, attract the board, and build a team across Australia who are already active in their region, sector, and technology base.
This is where you come in. Reach out if you want to be involved in any of the ways above or in areas I have not identified but you feel are necessary.
As mentioned, I have created a form at Startup Status to capture feedback. Your input is appreciated!
If you have read this far, it is likely because you are part of the tribe supporting entrepreneurs. Thank you. I look forward to working with you and supporting what you do!