What We Learned on the Road to GES

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Road to GES Pittsburgh
State Department Acting Special Representative Scott Ticknor visits a business lab during a Road to GES event at Chatham University in Pittsburgh.

What We Learned on the Road to GES

Now that the “Road to GES” series and the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) itself have come to a close, we celebrate the GES journey that culminated on November 28-30 in Hyderabad, India. We are thrilled that GES was such a success, and recall all the wonderful places we visited and emerging entrepreneurs we met in the lead-up to GES 2017.

The “Road to GES” was a series of events in the United States, India, and cities around the world that highlighted how communities benefit when they encourage innovation and support entrepreneurs, and emphasized the importance of including women to increase economic prosperity. Road to GES events in Milwaukee, Houston, Pittsburgh and Washington, DC, reinforced the impact U.S. cities have had on the global economy, where their innovations are improving lives and demonstrating what small businesses can accomplish. These three cities served as important milestones in the Road to GES, not only because they featured critical themes, like innovations in resource management and infrastructure, but also because they demonstrated that the American entrepreneurial spirit is flourishing outside of Silicon Valley. The small business owners we met across the country embodied the same sense of adventure and creativity that has given birth to so many innovations and new inventions over the years.

In collaboration with Milwaukee Startup Week, Road to GES Milwaukee celebrated the theme “Rooted in Entrepreneurship, Venturing for Growth,” and convened successful community and women entrepreneurs, ecosystem supporters, and investors to offer targeted skills training, mentorship, industry meetings, and networking.

Pictured from L-R: Linda Fowler, Regionerate; Jeannette Tamayo, U.S. Economic Development Administration; Christy Watkins, U.S. Department of State; Diana Hoyt, NASA; and Kenise Hill, U.S. Department of State at the Road to GES event in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

USAID Administrator Mark Green delivered the keynote address on USAID’s efforts to support entrepreneurship. As the home to the world’s largest freshwater system, the Milwaukee Road to GES event was the ideal location for a roundtable exchange with global water experts, small- and medium-sized businesses, engineers, and corporations, who discussed how water, energy, and infrastructure technology hold extraordinary promise for creating new markets and economic opportunities.

Taking place during Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW), Road to GES Houston brought together investors, entrepreneurs, and innovators to discuss ways to catalyze innovation and mitigate scale-up risks in the energy sector and related industries. In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, the Chief Resilience Officer for the City of Houston moderated a discussion on developing enhanced infrastructure resilience. At the pitch competition, one highlight included a team working to develop after-market sensor technology to eliminate blind spots for trucks on highways.

Road to GES Pittsburgh focused on entrepreneurship in smart cities, showcasing innovations and urban solutions through TED-style talks about a range of inventions and entrepreneurial ideas. The event also offered opportunities to highlight the good work of Pittsburgh’s Center for Women’s Entrepreneurship and challenges women face in scaling business.

The Road to GES in Milwaukee, Houston, Pittsburgh and Washington, DC, demonstrated that entrepreneurship is an important part of America’s DNA. Entrepreneurship propels local communities and cities forward. In these and other Road to GES events, the universal appeal of entrepreneurship was most clearly demonstrated by a broad collaboration of municipal, state, and federal government offices, all of which were unified in identifying opportunities to amplify the great work entrepreneurs are doing across the United States.

After this very successful National Entrepreneurship Month, we are excited to continue to amplify this enthusiasm for entrepreneurship, including the successful co-hosting of the 2017 Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) with India, celebrating “Women First, Prosperity for All.” GES 2017 was an invaluable opportunity to advance global economic prosperity, as it highlighted the accomplishments and contributions of entrepreneurs and investors from U.S. cities who are driving innovation across industries and around the world.

The Summit was a dynamic, energized event that harnessed the enthusiasm of hundreds of innovators and supporters. What we learned from the Road to GES is that entrepreneurship isn’t about a three-day Summit, or even about a month-long celebration of entrepreneurship. It’s about the work that entrepreneurs do every single day, year-round, in all corners of the United States and around the world. Our job is to strive tirelessly to match their energy by finding ways to build environments where they can thrive.

We look forward to the opportunity to continue celebrating and supporting entrepreneurs and their advancement of economic growth, innovation, and entrepreneurship.

About the Authors: Kenise Hill and Jamal Jones work on the Global Entrepreneurship Program in the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs' Office of Commercial and and Business Affairs.

Editor’s Note: This entry is also published in the U.S. Department of State’s publication on Medium.com.

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Kenise Hill
Jamal Jones