Exploring pathways to build inclusive, sustainable entrepreneur-centric local economies.

Building Inclusive Entrepreneurial Communities

The 2020 ESHIP Summit is Going Virtual

Join us September 15, 16, and 29 for the (virtual) 2020 ESHIP Summit as we explore entrepreneurial ecosystem building as a key part of community recovery and reinvention in a COVID-19-impacted world.

Tickets cost $145 and registration closes September 11th. Scholarships and group discounts are available.

2020 Speakers

More than 50 speakers will join us to share insights, stories and ecosystem building efforts from 25+ communities, led by entrepreneurs, economic developers, elected officials, foundations, investors, community builders, community colleges, libraries and more…

Scott Case
Founder Upside & priceline.com

Dr. Sameeksha Desai
Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation

Neela Mollgaard
Launch Minnesota

Mayor Richard Berry
Former Mayor of Albuquerque

Lyneir Richardson
Rutgers University

Katie Gailes
Wake Tech Community College

Jenny Poon

Fay Horwitt
Forward Cities

Liz Gamboa
New Mexico Community Capital

Jeff Finkle
International Economic Development Council

David Ponraj
Founder Startup Space

Pamela Lewis
New Economy Initiatives

Even in times of distress, entrepreneurs will step up to help build community with interdependence as its foundation. A community committed to fair play invests in all of its people, and especially those who have been left out and left behind.

-Philip Gaskin, Vice President of Entrepreneurship, Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation

What is the ESHIP Summit?

The ESHIP Summit is a convening that brings together entrepreneurial ecosystem builders – leaders connecting communities together to accelerate entrepreneurship – who seek to build more inclusive, sustainable local economies.

The virtual format of this year’s Summit welcomes participants attending for the first time and those who have attended before – there is something for every level of experience.

We’ll learn from one another during these challenging times, discuss strategies that are being tried as communities work together to address recovery efforts, and learn about tools and resources you can take away to support entrepreneurs during these times of crisis and beyond.

This year’s Summit will provide an introduction to key aspects of entrepreneurial ecosystem building from diverse leaders in the growing field. We’ll look at why entrepreneurship matters to local economies and how ecosystem building differs from traditional approaches to entrepreneurial support.

We’ll explore the impacts of structural racism, disconnected networks, and COVID-19 on who is – and is not – finding entrepreneurial success. We’ll hear from ecosystem builders as they present case stories from efforts in their communities, offering insights into what is working, what challenges they face, and how they’re measuring progress.

Throughout the event, participants will be connected to a growing community of practitioners and an array of organizations, resources, and tools that can support ecosystem building efforts in a range of communities.

By building these insights and shared practices together, the ESHIP Summit aims to accelerate the professional practice of entrepreneurial ecosystem building as an important component of economic, community, and venture development.

Why does this matter?

Entrepreneurship is linked to job and wealth creation, innovation, and can have positive impacts on entrepreneurs, their families, and the communities in which they live

While all entrepreneurs face barriers to success, some face more barriers than others. The entrepreneurial playing field isn’t level, which leaves untapped human potential on the sidelines.

Ecosystem building asks us to shift our thinking from just one or two individual support programs to look at the whole community of support and how it works together to ensure a more equitable and inclusive system for all entrepreneurs. Ecosystem building efforts taken with equity and inclusion at their core can help address systemic racism and wealth inequality that are holding back many in our communities from achieving their full potential. Equipping communities to grow and sustain more equitable entrepreneurial ecosystems can lead to more vibrant and dynamic local economies. To learn more, visit our DISCOVER page.

Moments of deep crisis are pivotal…a crisis is a moment of opportunity and possibility for people who are trying to build a more just and democratic society. We need to be asking ourselves: what are we going to do, right now?

-Chenjerai Kumanyika, activist, artist, and professor at Rutgers University

Ecosystem builders can help our communities adapt.

The events of the first half of 2020 have put the inadequacies and inequalities in our current social, economic, and environmental systems on full display.

Uncertainty has caused anxiety and fear, but also an opportunity for leaders to reinvent and reimagine our communities in new and better ways. Through the uncertainty, one thing is clear: no one solution, organization, or individual can get us where we need to go.

The current crisis is calling for what leaders (like you!) have been championing well before this moment. At the 2020 ESHIP Summit, we’ll gather to share what we’re learning and redouble our commitment to ensuring our communities are vibrant, prosperous, and resilient now and in the future. 

The paradox of this pandemic is that while it sends us into isolation, our communities seek to respond by coming together.

-Philip Gaskin, Vice President of Entrepreneurship, Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation

How will the events of 2020 shape this year’s Summit?

In the midst of a global pandemic, it’s fair to say that this year’s event will be different.

Physically, it will be an entirely online event.

Philosophically, the event will continue to address ecosystem building, but with deeper consideration for the context of the significant economic and societal challenges laid bare by the cascading crises of 2020.

The pandemic did not create many of these challenges, it simply exposed them. We believe that entrepreneurial ecosystem building can help guide aspects of our communities’ economic recovery, rebuilding, and reinvention in these times of uncertainty.

Who Should Attend the ESHIP Summit?

Participants from across the U.S. and around the world will work together to take action toward creating sustainable and inclusive economic growth at the community level through entrepreneurship. If any of these statements speak to you, the ESHIP Summit could be for you:  

  • I believe entrepreneurship is key to stronger communities and want to learn more about why …
  • I’m committed to taking a collaborative, system-wide approach to fostering entrepreneurship in my community …
  • I want to explore entrepreneurial ecosystem building – a practice emerging at the intersection of economic, community, and venture development – from diverse perspectives …
  • I am interested in contributing my ideas, talent, tools, and experiences to advance the professional field of entrepreneurial ecosystem building …
  • I want to take part in a gathering for an emerging professional practice, where I can learn, experiment, and explore ideas with others …
  • I work to transform my community and increase its capacity for change …
  • I am in it for the long run.

Summit participants wear many different hats, but the common thread is that they are interested in the success of the entire ecosystem, not just one of its parts or components. Past Summits have included people who work in:

  • entrepreneurship and business ownership
  • entrepreneur support organization, such as accelerators, incubators, or coworking spaces
  • economic, community, and venture development
  • universities, community colleges, and K-12 education
  • community organizing and community-building
  • an anchor institution or large company
  • banking, capital, and investment
  • government or public service
  • journalism or media 
  • philanthropy
  • social justice
  • research

If none of these categories apply to you, that’s okay too! If you are interested in exploring economic, community, and venture development through the lens of entrepreneurial ecosystems, this Summit is for you, and we warmly welcome you.

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