According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM), a non-profit academic research group, 110 million people around the world were involved in starting a business in 2010, and another 140 million were running businesses they began 3.5 years ago. Of that 250 million total, 63 million expect to hire at least five employees over the next five years.
Since start-ups are clearly impacting global work trends, what sorts of initiatives are governments undertaking to offer support entrepreneurs?
Across the pond, the UK federal government has created East London Tech City, a hub for high-tech companies like travel planning social networking service Dopplr, music service Last.fm and music news site Songkick. Prime Minister David Cameron said the initiative is meant to challenge Silicon Valley and take at least some of the high-tech thunder away from the U.S. west coast region.
Not everyone, however, is convinced that it’s the best idea. Warren East, head of microchip maker ARM, told the Financial Times that while it does make sense for the U.K. to foster technology entrepreneurship, it doesn’t make sense for the country to copy the U.S. model. “We cannot win by being a ‘me too,’” East says. He’s in favor of fostering existing technology clusters that make digital-equipment components, like chips and software. Whereas Silicon Valley companies put various pieces together for overarching high-tech solutions, the U.K. could come to be known for making the best individual parts that go into the U.S. systems, East says.
While some think the UK government’s on the wrong track, Canadians seem to think their government is missing the mark on entrepreneurship as well. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), microchip maker Intel and technology provider HP found via survey that 83 per cent of Canadians feel that governments undervalue entrepreneurs, and 71 per cent don’t believe there is enough emphasis on entrepreneurship as a career option in schools.
Still, Canadians seem to respect entrepreneurs: 94 per cent said they admire entrepreneurs, and 92 per cent would approve of their child or an immediate family member starting their own business; 95 per cent value the products, services and personal attention that they get from a small business, and 98 per cent say small business is important to the country’s future.
Entrepreneurship is a hot topic in the U.S., too. In an interview with Harvard Business School, professor and author Josh Lerner argues that governments have an important role to play in fostering new businesses. He points out that the recession presented some serious challenges – but also opportunities for a better connection between governments and innovative business leaders.
Several governments (eleven in fact) are demonstrating support for entrepreneurship by participating in Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) in November. The feature event of the week, Startup Open, is a global competition recognizing the top 50 most promising ventures in the world each year (you can see the winners here).
With more than 100 million people starting their own companies each year, what else could governments do to support new business?