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A Bigger and Better GEW in London

Jonathan Ortmans @jortmans

United Kingdom

Nov 17, 2012

jo_e2012.jpg

With only one day to go on my GEW 2012 tour, I am in the UK which organized 3,240 events, up 29% from last year and where we engaged 276,747 people in the course of the week, up 41% on last year.  YBI continues to do an impressive job here.  As I waited in the airport en route to London, I noted several UK ministerial leaders on television - including Vince Cable - sporting the GEW compass pin in solidarity for entrepreneurs around the world.

A highlight for me on this last day of GEW/UK 2012 was the honor of joining former U.S. President Bill Clinton for the Entrepreneurs 2012 conference. What did he talk about? Check out this mind map and see for yourself.

The audience was fantastic, making addressing 4,000 people directly ahead of a legend like Bill Clinton lots of fun.  Like in Liverpool last March around the Global Entrepreneurship Congress 2012, this multi-day event felt like a festival. Among its activities was a special screening of The Startup Kids, a documentary about young web entrepreneurs in the U.S. and Europe—including interviews with the founders of Dropbox, Vimeo, Soundcloud and more.

The UK is already the 7th best economy for the ease of doing business, according to the World Bank 2013 rankings, although its entrepreneurs have not escaped the impact of economic slowdown in the past three years. According to the Index of Economic Freedom, the country’s efficient and transparent regulatory framework encourages entrepreneurship.

The UK is also home to an edition of the ‘Silicon Valley Comes to’ series featuring Silicon Valley business leaders, investors and serial entrepreneurs sharing their insights and experiences. During Global Entrepreneurship Week 2012, these experts trotted Lisbon, Oxford, the Baltics and the UK. Led by and run by students, this grassroots movement is at the very heart of GEW. Their goal is to improve the ecosystem for entrepreneurship in the UK, Europe and beyond and thereby drive sustainable growth.

Although British rock star entrepreneurs are often private about their success and few broadcast it to inspire more of their “kind” (exceptions include Richard Branson, and the proud winners of The Apprentice or Dragon’s Den), entrepreneurs are constantly sharing ideas in smaller communities like the London Entrepreneurial Exchange, a members’ organization created in 2010 to help the growing influx of entrepreneurs in London (Richard Branson is its Honorary President). I learned today about their venues throughout London for would-be entrepreneurs eager to network, such as the Adam Street Club, Soho House and Shoreditch House. Students can also access these communities through their schools, such as at Imperial College Business School’s Entrepreneurship Hub.  And of course one cannot forget Google itself, where I went today and learned more about their making available a huge building in the East End for London for startups.  London also benefits from the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA) which I learned on my visit there today has become even more established as the major research hub on startups and the programs that support them in the UK.

London’s hip entrepreneur neighborhoods and their entrepreneur meet-ups, along with top-level support for business creation (Prime Minister David Cameron is an early GEW champion), make this capital a fierce competitor in the global race to develop the best startup ecosystem in the world. 

See you on my final stop tomorrow in Belgium.

tags: Bill Clinton, google, NESTA, Ortmans, The Startup Kids, VIP