Field Reports


Each month, GERN organizes a conference call among its members, observers, and guests on important, underexplored areas of entrepreneurship.  Moderated by Phil Auerswald, GERN's executive director, the one-hour discussions feature presentations by leaders from academia, foundations, research institutes, and NGOs and corporations. Below is a summary of the our field reports going back to September 2015, with links to relevant materials, such as papers, powerpoints and the like.


January 25, 2017: New Evidence and Models for Accelerators


  • Dave Moskovitz, R9 Government Accelerator, Wellington, New Zealand
  • Wael Eldesouki, Arab Academy Supply Chain Accelerator, Cairo, Egypt
  • Genevieve Edens, Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs Global Accelerator Learning Initiative 


In an intervew format, this call offered an overview of new frontiers in knowledge about accelerators. The R9 Accelerator in Wellington was launched to test new ways of sourcing and procuring innovative solutions to problems in government. It selects teams of creative innovators from the public and private sector to go through an in-residence accelerator. Utilzing a unique hybrid model, R9 cohorts include teams of public and private sector innovators participating in a three-month program. The Cairo-based supply chain accelerator offers its cohorts an industry education through its network of mentors, trainers, and consultants.

The Global Accelerator Learning Initiative (GALI) is a research partnership organized to answer key questions related to accelerators, such as, "how do they work best?" and "are they best suited to the tech sector?" During the discussion, Edens described GALI's data collection methodology and how accelerators gain from participating in the project.


October 19, 2016: User-based Methods for Identifying Entrepreneurship Research Priorities

Presenters: Jill Panetta, Co-Founder, InnoCentive; Amisha Miller, Kauffman Foundation


Entrepreneurship is a highly complex, inherently multidisciplinary field. As such, there is often little consensus about priorities within the broader entrepreneurship research community. Research is as much about framing the right questions as it is about uncovering answers. But, the right question from an academic perspective often does not provide the answer that practitioners and policymakers are urgently looking to apply in their work. The value of crowdsourcing questions from the wider entrepreneurship community is that GERN will be engaging practitioners while affirming that its members’ current focus is on the most important areas of inquiry.

One method for developing a comprehensive list of agreed research questions and priorities from the wider community is a process pioneered by Professor Bill Sutherland of Cambridge University. Involving a series of what he calls question prioritizing exercises, it has been adapted and used in a wide range of fields. For GERN, Sutherland provides a useful method for framing questions to better understand entrepreneurial dynamics – informing the field while pushing it forward.


September 14, 2016: Digital Disruption + City Ecosystems

Presenter: Jarmo Eskelinen, Future Cities Catapult


Most of the world’s cities were settled by happenstance.  For most of history, the development of infrastructure (shelter, canals, roads, etc.) also happened without a grand plan, with new layers being built on top of the old; “and yet, cities are our most enduring human achievement,” said Jarmo Eskelinen, the Chief Innovation and Technology Officer at Future Cities Catapult.

Cities around the world are now growing bigger and faster than ever before. This explosive growth is occurring at the same time that new technologies – broadband connectivity, cloud computing, sensor networks, open data infrastructures – are unlocking massive streams of information about cities and their residents. Architects and urban planners are empowered to work smarter while entrepreneurs working at the intersection of urbanization and digitalization seek to adapt these technologies in novel ways. Three factors – legacy, speed and readiness – constain the ability of entrepreneurs to deploy new 'smart city' technologies.  “Building open, agile, and smart cities,” Eskelinen said, “raises many, as yet unanswered questions about data (some will have it in droves, others will struggle to obtain enough); security, privacy, and consent; open platforms; and new digital ecosystems.”  In seeking to develop frameworks for studying such questions, GERN’s members are at the cutting edge of the future – already here for some and arriving with accelerating speed across the globe.



August 10, 2016: Entrepreneurial Mindset + Education


  • Professor Kelly Shaver, School of Business at the College of Charleston
  • Dr. Kåre Moberg, Senior Researcher at the Danish Foundation for Entrepreneurship
  • Immanuel Commarmond, Allan Gray Orbis Foundation
  • Fredell Jacobs, Allan Gray Orbis Foundation
  • Yoosef Ghahreman, GERN

Description: As global interest of entrepreneurial mindset and education has increased in recent years, GERN is helping to create a preliminary framework of a pilot research study in South Africa, which can be replicated elsewhere.  This discussion was designed to inform the effort and, in particular, identify the most relevant questions to guide data collection efforts central to the study.  Professor Shaver, a preeminent scholar on the behavioral and social determinants of entrepreneurship, was instrumental in developing the “Panel Studies of Entrepreneurial Dynamics” (PSED) – the only nationally representative sample reflecting the firm creation process.  These longitudinal surveys of U.S.-based individuals who are in the process of starting businesses capture data about nascent entrepreneurs and play a significant role in advancing knowledge in the entrepreneurship field. Prof. Shaver was joined by Dr. Moberg, who, after leading the development of entrepreneurship education at 14 universities in Denmark and Sweden, works with policymakers on assessing impact and developing new programs in this area.


July 13, 2016: Urban Innovation: Leading U.S. Cities Driving Institutional Change


  • Morgan Gress, 1776
  • Michael Hendrix, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation

Description: Morgan Gress and Michael Hendrix gave an overview of the 1776 / U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation Innovation That Matters study, which examines the state of “civic entrepreneurship” in eight U.S. cities: Austin, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, New Orleans, New York, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. The term “civic entrepreneurship” denotes the idea that when it comes to improving civic institutions such as schools, energy grids, healthcare systems, and local governments, startups in these sectors need a broad-based and collaborative approach that integrates them into the wider community of actors. The study began with the hypothesis that broad-based connectivity is a key ingredient for fostering successful civic entrepreneurship. The research team traveled the country to survey local civic entrepreneurs and compile data on the development of each city’s startup ecosystem by convening diverse groups of stakeholders in each industry – education, energy, health, and cities. Their analysis provides a useful framework of ecosystem development, which can inform all those leading entrepreneur-support initiatives.  For a more in-depth description of this discussion, see Innovation That Matters: Cities, Digitalization, and the Future Economy.


June 15, 2016: Government Data Collection


  • Amisha Miller, Kauffman Foundation
  • Fiorina Mugione, UNCTAD
  • Mariarosa Lunati, OECD

Description:  The discussion focused on the types of data national policymakers can collect to measure the development of entrepreneurship by examining a draft Kauffman-OECD-UNCTAD whitepaper that reviews impact data, outcome measures, and their relation to sustainable development goals (SDGs). For a detailed description of this discussion, see the Government Data Infrastructure project description.


May 11, 2016: Placing Accelerators in the Context of Their Ecosystems


  • Professor Susan Cohen, Robins School of Business, University of Richmond
  • Professor Brad Bernthal, University of Colorado Law School
  • Abigayle Davidson, Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE)

Description:  In May 2016, entrepreneurship researchers and practitioners from around the world, including a number of GERN members, gathered to discuss the impact of accelerators at Emory University's Social Enterprise @ Goizueta Research Colloquium. The GERN discussion focused on updating members about new research and collaborations that help us better understand how, and when, accelerators contribute to better entrepreneurship outcomes.


Susan Cohen, Do Accelerators Accelerate: The role of Indirect Learning in New Venture Development


Brad Bernthal, Investment Accelerators

Global Accelerator Learning Initiative (GALI), What's Working in Startup Acceleration: Insights from Fifteen Village Capital Programs
For an in-depth presentation of the findings, see:

February 17, 2016: Financial Services + Entrepreneurship


  • Mike Kubzansky, Omidyar Network Intellectual Capital
  • Usman Ahmed, Head of Global Public Policy at PayPal, Inc.

Description:  New innovations that utilize big data to assess early-stage startups are disrupting the financial services industry.  Recent studies by the Omidyar Network and PayPal, Inc., indicate that big data analysis can be used to successfully foster financial inclusion.  The findings of surveys of credit consumers conducted by Omidyar in Colombia and Kenya and internal PayPal market research indicate that new lending models can fill funding gaps and accelerate new firm formation.  GERN members discussed various ways to build upon these studies through a wider and more in-depth research study.


Omidyar Network, Big Data, Small Credit: The Digital Revolution and its Impact on Emerging Market Consumers

Usman Ahmed, Filling the Gap: How Technology Enables Access to Financing for Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises


January 20, 2016: Critical Components of Thriving Entrepreneurial Cities


  • Luis Bettencourt, Santa Fe Institute
  • Mariano Mayer, Argentina's National Secretary of Entrepreneurs & Small & Medium Enterprises
  • Victor Mulas, World Bank Group

Description:  Many governments around the world now seek to advance job creation through innovation and entrepreneurship – a break from the past paradigm of the state as employer-in-chief.  To address many pressing challenges and set in motion virtuous cycles, new government initiatives include secondary and higher education programs aimed at developing an entrepreneurial mindset and infrastructure projects to build thriving entrepreneurial cities. Recent research into cities as systems has illuminated many interdependent social, economic, and spatial facets and captured the complex balancing of socioeconomic outputs and infrastructure costs that apply across urban centers regardless of scale.  Members participating in this call discussed a variety of possible joint studies that would build upon this body of work and strengthening understanding of the necessary inputs required to develop more vibrant cities that enhance well-being and entrepreneurial dynamism. 


Victor Mulas, Innovation Within Cities

Luis Bettencourt, The City as a System for Innovation and Entrepreneurship

See attached below.


December 16, 2015: The Impact of Digital Platforms on Entrepreneurship


  • Robin Chase, Co-founder, ZipCar
  • Usman Ahmed, PayPay, Inc.

Description:  See the January 6 GEN Newsletter.


Robin Chase, Peers Inc. Presentation


November 18, 2015: Assessing the Impact of Innovative Policy Experiments

Presenter: Amira Choueiki, U.S. General Service Administration 

Description:  In the lead up the Startup Nations Summit in Monterry, Mexico, GERN discussed the need for studies assessing the impact of policy experiments aimed at fostering and supporting entrepreneurs.  As governments increasingly plan and adopt policies that incentivize entrepreneurial activity, the need to assess how well these are implemented becomes more acute.  Incumbent upon researchers is to look beyond outcomes to determine whether policy failures are due to poor implementation, ensuring that policymakers in other cities or countries are properly informed about which innovations may hold promise for addressing gaps and bottlenecks in their ecosystem.


Donald Berwick, The Science of Improvement

Kathy Stack, Practical Nudges, The Future of Citizen Interaction

Sharique Hasan, How Can Field Experiments Improve Entrepreneurship Policy?

Lant Pritchett, et. al., It's All About MeE: Using Structured Experiential Learning ("e") to Crawl the Design Space


October 14, 2015: The Features of Inclusive Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Development

Presenter: Professor Daniel Isenberg, Babson College

Description:  Critical discussion of the "entrepreneurial ecosystem" metaphor, consideration of its advantages and potential limitations as a guide to policy and action aimed at inclusive growth.  Increasingly in the past two to three years, governments and non-governmental grant-making organizations have been motivating their support for entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship by talking about entrepreneurial "ecosystems."  The Kauffman Foundation has released two reports on entrepreneurial ecosystems, linked below.  In parallel, many actors have increasingly focused upon addressing the divergence of economic outcomes that has occurred in many (though certainly not all) countries globally in the last decade, even as median wellbeing has improved.  This has led to a shift of focus from growth to inclusive growth.


Dane Stangler and Jordan Bell-Masterson, Measuring an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem, offers 12 indicators and their sources for measuring the outcomes and vibrancy of a local entrepreneurial ecosystem

Philip Auerswald, Enabling Entrepreneurial Ecosystems, takes the metaphor of the “ecosystem” seriously, seeking to draw lessons from evolutionary biology and ecology to inform policy for entrepreneurship

Daniel Isenberg, What an Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Actually Is

Daniel Isenberg, The Right Way to Plan an Innovation Tour

Yuwa Hedrick-Wong and Yasar Jarrar, Inclusive Growth in the Middle East and Africa: The Challenge of Transforming Demographic Burden to Dividends, Mastercard Knowledge Leadership Series

Linda Rottenberg, How Entrepreneurship Boosts Inclusive Growth, World Economic Forum Agenda


September 16, 2015: The Factors that Support High-Growth Firms in Emerging Economies


  • Ellen Olafsen, World Bank Group
  • Xavier Cirera, World Bank Group

Description:  Thanks to the efforts of the research community broadly, and the Kauffman Foundation in particular, policy-makers around the world are today far more aware than a decade ago of the fundamental difference between entrepreneurial startups and "small businesses" (or SMEs) and of the particularly important economic role played by high-growth firms.  However, with the global landscape of technology, innovation, and opportunity creation shifting rapidly, it is worth asking: How do we update our understanding of the nature of high-growth firms, the role that they play in the economy, and the array of policies and institutions that support them?  During this call, GERN discussed this question, with reference to its members' joint projects and Kauffman Foundation's New Entrepreneurial Growth Initiative, and offered input about research parameters to its member, the World Bank Group, as it planned a new study on the topic.


Kauffman Foundation at SXSW, Four Insights from the Fastest Growing Companies in America

Alex Coad, et. al., High-Growth Firms: Introduction to the Special Section," Industrial and Corporate Change, Volume 23, Number 1, pp. 91–112

E.J. Reedy, Making Entrepreneurial Growth Vibrant Again

Cato Institute, The Future of U.S. Economic Growth - Panel 3: Is Economic Dynamism in Decline?