On May 21-23, The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation hosted its third annual ESHIP Summit, a convening that brings together entrepreneurial ecosystem builders — leaders connecting communities to accelerate entrepreneurship. This year, Next Street participated in the conference as a National Resource Provider (NRP), one of almost 60 organizations that provide training, support programs and funding to entrepreneurial ecosystem builders across the U.S. and beyond.
Some of the key takeaways from the Summit include:
ESHIP Goals: Delivering on a shared vision
Building from prior Summits, Kauffman and the ESHIP community have developed seven priority goals for the field of ecosystem building (akin to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals), meant to serve as the foundation for ecosystem builders’ collective action. This year’s Summit focused on pivoting from the “Design” phase to “Deliver” for the seven ESHIP goals (and 30 associated initiatives). At the conference many attendees and participants, including Next Street, made commitments to drive these initiatives forward alongside Kauffman and the rest of the ESHIP community.
Unifying public and private sector ecosystem players
This year’s ESHIP conference coincided with Kauffman’s Mayor’s Conference on Entrepreneurship, a gathering of mayors to encourage entrepreneurship activity in their cities. Given the overlap, Kauffman facilitated sessions that provided an opportunity for mayors and ecosystem builders to discuss tools for collaboration between the public and private sector. In order to ensure successful adoption of ESHIP Goals nationally, it will be important to continually engage the public sector, and bring to the table other key participants, including the financial mainstream and large corporations.
“No two ecosystems are the same”
Next Street led a showcase presentation at this year’s Summit on shared and local challenges across ecosystems, building on our findings having conducted entrepreneurial ecosystem assessments in 15 cities and regions across the country. The presentation fostered a lively debate among participants about some of the uniquely local challenges which require tailored solutions built with local input. It will be important to ensure that the delivery of shared ESHIP initiatives are appropriately flexible to be adapted to what local communities need.
Untraditional setup fostered greater collaboration
The conference was designed to be unconventional and an opportunity for ecosystem builders to connect, share learnings and best practices with one another, and collaborate to develop joint solutions for Kauffman’s ESHIP goals and initiatives.
The conference mantra of “Everything’s a Draft” epitomizes the iterative nature of these initiatives that will require continued collective action. The focus now turns to delivery of the 30 initiatives through pilots led by National Resource Providers (including Next Street) that turn conceptual initiatives to action.