Global Entrepreneurship Ministers to hold first meeting in Milan

What new approaches can governments implement to leverage entrepreneurs as allies for job creation and economic growth? Ministers responsible for such policies from around the world will soon gather in Milan at the Global Entrepreneurship Congress (GEC) to explore this very question. Leaders will share ideas and experiences about how to better enable entrepreneurship, new enterprise formation, and SME growth overall.

While the GEC has traditionally been a massive gathering of entrepreneurs, investors and startup support programs, participation from governments — one of the feeders of entrepreneurial ecosystems – is on the rise. It is not clear if this is because startups are fun and dynamic or whether this awakening by decision-makers has been driven by greater awareness of the data on new firm formation and economic growth.

The first-of-its-kind Ministerial for the GEC will be led by Maria Contreras-Sweet, the Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration.  She will be joined on the podium by Federica Guidi, the Italian Minister for Economic Development, who also has extensive private sector experience having served as CEO of a global engineering firm.  They will be joined by the likes of Gordan Maras, Croatia’s Minister of Entrepreneurship and Crafts, and Enrique Jacob Rocha, the President of Mexico’s new agency the National Institute of the Entrepreneur, among others.

As technology has broken barriers to connectivity around the globe, the potential for small and growing enterprises to have an outsized impact on national economies has never been greater. Governments have a renewed role to play in creating the conditions necessary for enabling today’s tech-savvy business founders to pursue new ways of bringing innovative products and services to market, both locally and globally.

The Ministerial is designed to allow Cabinet-level decision-makers  a unique opportunity to side step their usual agendas with each other around issues like trade barriers, and share information about emerging best practices in domestic policymaking and programming within highly diverse entrepreneurship ecosystems.  The goal is that these government leaders will return home with new ideas for spurring new firm formation and supporting small business.

While it is easier than ever to connect with people in all corners of the globe, there are still very few global forums in which the high-level officials responsible for entrepreneurship can learn from one another and, potentially, join forces in developing our one global entrepreneurship ecosystem.  The value proposition of today’s existing multilateral economic forums is questionable.  They may be suitable vehicles for negotiating trade deals, but not for adopting the global economic imperative of finding more effective approaches to stimulate new firm growth.  This requires open source collaboration not secretive economic negotiation.  All boats rise when economies generate more new firms.

While the Ministerial agenda for Milan is being set by the leading Ministers present and still be further defined by staff, here are some of the questions likely to be raised:

Government and the entrepreneurship ecosystems

What are smart ways for government to catalyze enterprise formation and growth without trampling on the chaotic nature of entrepreneurial dynamics?  What processes can governments use to develop the right mix of rules, regulations and incentives to create a thriving entrepreneurship sector?  Is there a government succeeding or failing in this regard?

Fostering young and growing businesses 

What approaches have worked (evidenced effectiveness) and what could work in the future (policy experimentation)?

Supporting innovation 

How can governments level the playing field for anyone anywhere at any time to start and grow a business that sells to anyone anywhere at any time?

Open Competition

How can governments promote competitive markets in which new entrants are not crowded out by large existing firms.  This is a particular problem in many emerging markets where certain economic sectors, such as telecommunications remain dominated by monopolies.


The Ministerial at the GEC in Milan will be followed by an open GEC Research + Policy Summit, and a meeting of the Startup Nations group – a collection of startup-savvy policy advisors driving the development of new policies targeted at new firm acceleration.  The broader discussion around stimulating entrepreneurship should build a team atmosphere of leaders and feeders from all elements of the ecosystem, working together on a common goal.