The increased investment of time and resources into the entrepreneurship field over the past 10 years has resulted in millions more people around the world becoming motivated to explore their potential as entrepreneurs.  While this has lots of upsides in terms of new armies of innovators finding better ways of doing things and being available to address the hard to crack challenges that lie ahead in highly regulated industries, it also raises the bar in terms of the quality of teaching and support programs for entrepreneurs.

Two years ago, GEN helped launch the Global Entrepreneurship Research Network (GERN), which is designed to align and combine some of the deepest thinkers and pockets in entrepreneurship toward addressing questions in a way that is bigger than the sum of its parts.  Now collaborations are underway in four critical areas.

One study is mapping how entrepreneurs make key connections with potential co-founders and key enablers, such as mentors and investors, in more than 20 cities. A second examines the factors that lead to successful accelerator cohorts. A third is developing recommendations about what sorts of entrepreneurship data governments ought to be collecting. The fourth will study the most effective educational parameters for instilling an entrepreneurial mindset.

While much of our work is conducted virtually at our desks, we have been expanding the number of opportunities for face-to-face debate and discussion around emerging research and ideas. Beyond the Global Entrepreneurship Congress (GEC) and the GERN annual meeting, GEN also assembles policymakers each November to discuss new questions on their minds. In addition, GEC+ was recently introduced as a new “deep-dive” event concept.

Designed to enable a less hurried, deeper colloquy around well-defined yet unanswered questions arising from our annual Congress, GEC+ events look at regions or specific topics identified in conjunction with the nation that hosts them.

On August 25-26, GEN and the Korea Entrepreneurship Foundation (KEF) hosted a GEC+ in Daegu, South Korea. The event shined a bright light on new research and analytical tools for practitioners to apply when developing entrepreneurship programs and policies.

On the first day on the main stage, I was joined by four experts who have studied successful ways for catalyzing ecosystem development: Jarmo Eskelinen, the Chief Innovation and Technology Officer at Future Cities Catapult UK; Victor Mulas, who leads the World Bank’s Innovation Acceleration Program; Kyuhwang Yeon, the Vice President of the Center for Creative Economy and Innovation in Daegu, Korea; and Qian Wang, the Vice Director of Zhongguancun Innoway in Beijing. Each has a unique perspective on innovation ecosystems and compelling narratives on forging collaborative action among key players.

To discuss global best practices for building entrepreneurial ecosystems Kaitlin Shilling, who directs Platform Usaha Sosial, an online collaborative space for entrepreneurs in Indonesia, led a discussion that included Kwanghyon Kim, the executive director of Korea’s Banks Foundation for Young Entrepreneurs, angel investor David Dukhwan Oh, the managing partner of Seoul Networks, Keijiro Yamagata, a manager with the Japan Innovation Network, Emanuele Santi, the lead strategy advisor at the Africa Development Bank, and David Kuo, the co-founder of iiiNNO Taiwan.

To learn more about the infrastructure required to create an environment where citizens can pursue new economic opportunities, we turned to Robert Ogburn, a development specialist at the U.S. Embassy in Korea, to facilitate a highly informative discussion among Yo-Han Kim, who directs Korea’s City of Daegu’s Creative Economy Planning Division, Sajid Islam, an angel investor and the founder of hubDhaka in Bangladesh, and Priyank Narayan, the director of Ashoka University’s entrepreneurship programs in India.

GERN Co-Chair Phil Auerswald, UNCTAD Chief of Entrepreneurship Fiorina Mugione, Victor Mulas, and Ainsley Lloyd from GEDI – which leads the work in developing GEN’s Global Entrepreneurship Index each year, described a variety of ways to map and measure national- and city-level ecosystems. The Index provides valuable insight into where critical gaps exist within national ecosystems, providing a starting point for policy and program strategy development.

Given the level of new attention as to whether we know how best to teach entrepreneurship in a post startup revolution era, GEC+ spotlighted some effective evidence-based entrepreneurship education policies, programs and practices. Describing the best international methods for instilling the essential entrepreneurial characteristics needed to see new ideas through to reality were Gi-Hyun Kum, the Secretary General of the Korea Entrepreneurship Foundation, Anthony Farr and Fredell Jacobs, of the South Africa-based Allan Gray Orbis Foundation, Anders Rasmussen, a team Leader with the Danish Foundation for Entrepreneurship, and Yun-Sock Lee, the leader of the Entrepreneurship Education team at the Korea Entrepreneurship Foundation.

In a world of ever increasing complexity, an entrepreneurial approach to solving problems is pivotal – on the job, at home and as a society. As one study found, developing entrepreneurial skills as a student is a greater determinate of future progress than having a PhD. With this in mind, Wael Bedda, the director of the Arab Academy for Science’s Entrepreneurship Center led a discussion about mainstreaming entrepreneurship education throughout secondary and high school curricula. Joining him were Noam Band, an adviser to Israel Education Initiatives, Antonija Mrsic, a steering committee member of the South East European Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning, Enrique Portillo, of the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education, Johannes Lindner, the Head of Austria’s Entrepreneurship Education Center and Initiative for Teaching Entrepreneurship, and Kyu Dong Kim, the President of SMBA University Entrepreneurship Center.

In addition to the significant role entrepreneurship education plays in motivating people to become entrepreneurs – and its lasting impact on the success of startups and business owners – those qualities help students across all professions. To discuss the successful techniques for helping others to develop such characteristics, Jiang Peng, a senior project manager at the Shanghai Technology Entrepreneurship Foundation for Graduates moderated an in-depth discussion with Gene Seow, who leads Singapore’s Nanyang Technopreneurship Center at Nanyang Technology University, Ivan Sandjaja, a director at the Ciputra Entrepreneurship Foundation in Indonesia, Ken Krull, the executive director of Quatere, a U.S. accelerator, and Jin-soo Kim, the President of the Korea Association of Entrepreneurship Education.

While GEC+ kicked off multiple new projects from side meetings, the final goal formally pursued by GERN and the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation was to hear from leading global experts on the entrepreneurial mindset to inform the framing of a pilot study of South Africans. The discussions helped to crystalize an approach for collecting data to measure the development of the hallmarks of entrepreneurial mindsets the world over including: resiliency, focus, long-term outlook, management abilities, curiosity and the desire to learn, and self-reliance. A GERN Mindset project will unfold over the next few months to report out at the GEC in Johannesburg in March 2017.

Special thanks are due to our hosts: Yeungnam University Entrepreneurship Center, POSTECH Entrepreneurship Center; and to Korea’s Small and Medium Business Administration, Daegu Metropolitan City, Daegu Convention and Visitors Bureau, and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, whose generous support made this event possible.

For more detailed information see the GEC+, which contains the agenda and most of the presentations.

If you are interested in learning more about the GEC+ or GEN’s research work, please visit www.gern.co or contact Cristina Fernandez, GEN’s Director for Research and Policy at cristina@genglobal.org.


* This post was co-authored with Peter Komives, director at the Global Entrepreneurship Network