Held every Spring, the Global Entrepreneurship Congress is an interdisciplinary gathering of startup champions from around the world—where entrepreneurs, investors, researchers, thought leaders and policymakers work together to help bring ideas to life, drive economic growth and expand human welfare.
The Congress provides policymakers and researchers with an environment to exchange ideas and approaches on strengthening economic growth through policies and initiatives favorable to entrepreneurs. It helps improve global collaboration and expand awareness of national campaigns to engage citizens in entrepreneurial activity as well as increase global recognition of entrepreneurs for the role they play in building economies while developing innovative solutions that improve daily life.
The Global Entrepreneurship Congress is the premier interdisciplinary gathering of startup champions from around the world.
Over the past five years, the Congress has contributed to the expansion of a global entrepreneurial ecosystem, connecting experts and entrepreneurs across borders and sectors to unleash their ideas and transform innovation into reality.
“Countries around the world are racing to build the best startup ecosystems,” said Jonathan Ortmans, chair of the Global Entrepreneurship Congress and president of Global Entrepreneurship Week. “Italy’s startup scene has started to boom and Milan is at the heart of it.”
The Milan event will officially be co-hosted by META Group, a Terni-based organization focused on advancing innovation and entrepreneurship, along with Global Entrepreneurship Week and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.
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The first GEC was hosted in Kansas City in March 2009. To support the burgeoning initiative that was Global Entrepreneurship Week, the Kauffman Foundation brought together the host organizations from nearly 60 nations to create the first-ever Global Entrepreneurship Congress at it's headquarters in Kansas City.
In 2010, the GEC convened in Dubai with Global Entrepreneurship Week champions from more than 90 countries. As the profile of the Congress continued to grow, so did the caliber of the speakers. The line-up for Dubai included Prime Minister H.E. Nika Gilauir of Georgia, Sarah Ferguson, The Duchess of York, and a number of accomplished entrepreneurs and CEOs.
Keen to show the world that it too was building a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem, Shanghai hosted the GEC in March 2011. Global Entrepreneurship Week hosts from 100 countries were joined by more than 1,000 participants from across China to advance the promotion of entrepreneurial ecosystems. The third GEC was well attended by entrepreneurs and government factions of China. Chinese government officials, led by Yan Junqi, vice chairwoman of the standing committee of the National People’s Congress of China, as well as Wan Gang, the country’s Minister for Science and Technology and a number of other government representatives from the federal and local levels participated in the event, bolstering its profile. Also in attendance were some of China’s wealthier entrepreneurs and angel investors who had been leading the way toward new economic growth.
Liverpool hosted the fourth GEC in 2012. British titans of industry such as Richard Branson, famous for his Virgin brand empire, inspired Global Entrepreneurship Week delegates from 120 countries among a crowd of thousands. But as bright as the star power was in Liverpool, perhaps a more important shift began to occur - the international delegates were no longer populated solely by GEW hosts. The Congress began to attract participation from diverse delegations from government ministries, university researchers, the media and more.
The GEC in 2013 brought delegations from 135 countries to a week-long festival in Rio de Janeiro. New to Rio were more of the national boards that steer efforts through Global Entrepreneurship Week to build more robust entrepreneurial ecosystems in neighborhoods and cities around the world. The GEC in Rio also attracted strong fringe events including the Startup Weekend Organizers Summit and an Entrepreneurship Film Festival as well as a line-up of programs and initiatives created to help entrepreneurs. These ranged from an opportunity to learn about the Kauffman Foundation’s Ice House Entrepreneurship Program to Kauffman FastTrac, where Alana Muller presented her “Coffee Lunch Coffee” networking concept—an accessible, relevant and immediately actionable approach to help formulate a strategic mindset around networking. New to the GEC in Rio also was a policy summit, turning the focus to government policy innovations that foster more startups and faster scale-ups. Industry leaders such as Brad Feld, co-founder and mentor at TechStars; Jeff Hoffman, co-founder of Priceline.com; Mbwana Allily, founder and managing partner of Savannah Fund in sub-Saharan Africa, and many more graced to stage to inspire delegates and further the entrepreneurial conversation.
Held in Moscow, the 2014 GEC was co-hosted by Global Entrepreneurship Week, the Moscow City government and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation with sponsorship from Dell and Ernst and Young. Nearly 7,000 delegates from 150 countries gathered for the largest GEC to date.
Entrepreneurship champions such as Bod Dorf, Co-Author of The Start-up Owner’s Manual, Peter Vesterbacka, the Mighty Eagle of Rovio Entertainment - the company behind Angry Birds, and Ingrid Vanderveldt, Entrepreneur in Residence at Dell, took the stage to share lessons and challenge delegates. The four days of the GEC offered an overwhelming menu of concurrent sessions on topics ranging from entrepreneurship education, to dozens of panels around specific opportunities by industry vertical, to regional sessions such as the Unleashing African Entrepreneurship organized by LIONS@FRICA.