With a background as an entrepreneur himself, it is no surprise that Jonathan Ortmans is deeply engrossed in efforts to advance entrepreneurial growth around the world. His work in the field is expansive, but predominantly driven around two initiatives–Global Entrepreneurship Week and the Policy Dialogue on Entrepreneurship.
Global Entrepreneurship Week
Global Entrepreneurship Week is the world’s largest celebration of the innovators and job creators who launch startups that bring ideas to life, drive economic growth and expand human welfare.
During one week each November, GEW inspires people everywhere through local, national and global activities designed to help them explore their potential as self-starters and innovators. These activities, from large-scale competitions and events to intimate networking gatherings, connect participants to potential collaborators, mentors and even investors—introducing them to new possibilities and exciting opportunities.
The initiative kicked off in 2008, launched by former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Carl Schramm, the president and CEO of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. Since then, it has grown to 115 countries—with nearly 24,000 partner organizations planning more than 37,000 activities that directly engage more than 7 million people.
With so many new jobs in entrepreneurial economies coming from firms less than five years old, it is not surprising that leaders around the world are looking to reinvigorate their economies by focusing on ways to stimulate new firm formation. Global Entrepreneurship Week helps map the entrepreneurial ecosystem in those countries and enjoys the participation and support of presidents and prime ministers on every continent, including: President Barack Obama (US); Prime Minister David Cameron (UK); Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Israel); President Anibal Cavavo Silva (Portugal); Prime Minister Stephen Harper (Canada); President John Atta Mills (Ghana); and, numerous ministers focused on advancing economic growth.
But GEW is more than just an awareness campaign supported by world leaders and celebrity entrepreneurs. It is about unleashing ideas and doing what it takes to bring them to life—spotting opportunities, taking risks, solving problems, being creative, building connections and learning from both failure and success. It is about thinking big and making your mark on the world—doing good while doing well at the same time.
Policy Dialogue on Entrepreneurship
The Policy Dialogue on Entrepreneurship (PDE) is an initiative to promote a greater understanding of the public policies necessary to stimulate an environment conducive to entrepreneurial growth—whether on a local, national or global level. Innovation knows no boundaries.
Not surprisingly, much examination of entrepreneurship has been focused on supporting already-established small businesses. Representing 99.7 percent of all employers in the United States and employing nearly half of its private sector employees, the needs of existing small businesses indeed play a major role in any conversation about entrepreneurship. However, economic growth also calls for a vibrant discussion on how to stimulate additional ideas of value and new corresponding enterprises—a dialogue about fostering a policy environment that encourages innovations in business processes and the latest technologies, creative thinking, risk-taking and an entrepreneurial culture that has more people exploring how to make new jobs.
Integrating academics, researchers, policymakers, entrepreneurs, and others interested in the innovation economy, the Policy Dialogue on Entrepreneurship is facilitating the creation of a network to further the understanding of the overall impact of entrepreneurship. The initiative provides policy-related content for entrepreneurship.org, a website operated by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation to leverage best practices in entrepreneurial leadership to advance economic growth around the world. Fact sheets, articles, reports, case studies and a growing list of resources are available for policymakers, thought leaders and others. The most visible online component of the initiative is PDE-news, an electronic newsletter that provides a weekly recap of featured articles and blog posts.
In addition to its virtual presence, the Policy Dialogue on Entrepreneurship brings together this expanding network for direct interaction through occasional seminars and meetings around Washington, DC. These meetings—and all PDE efforts—focus on an array of topics that come together to form a policy roadmap to promote entrepreneurship, including: commercializing university research; taxation; immigration; energy; intellectual property; health care; physical infrastructure; and, education.
National economies have much to gain by supporting entrepreneurs with an essential infrastructure that ensures access to knowledge, capital, talent, and information. For all those reasons—and more—the Policy Dialogue on Entrepreneurship spotlights ways to create an environment conducive to entrepreneurial growth and to highlight those who are making it happen.
The Policy Dialogue on Entrepreneurship is made possible by a grant from the Kauffman Foundation.