Startup Nations Policy Hack





Over the past 10 years, a new field has emerged in public policy around smarter ways for governments to enable the founders of new firms to start and scale more quickly in pursuit of economic stability and job creation. As more entrepreneurial societies have taken root, disruptive technologies have been unleashed on traditional industries bringing new, unfamiliar regulatory challenges to governments.

The SNS Organizing Committee believes that hands-on policy design and experimentation knowledge exchange at SNS should lead to actual implementation. The Startup Nations Summit will therefore feature a Policy Hack for selected participants to design, test and develop a policy solution to help new and young firms. Seasoned, expert policymaker peers will join startup entrepreneurs to guide the process and provide feedback.



The Startup Nations Policy Hack is not a typical hacking event limited to a few hours on-site. Participants in the Policy Hack model from Startup Nations benefit from a process carefully developed by a core team of leaders and organizations for peer testing ideas before taking the policy solutions back to home to implement them. The journey for participants will include:

Pre-SNS (October - November 2018): getting ready to make the most of the hack at the Summit.

  • Access to an exclusive online discussion platform throghout the year. Expect answers from renowned experts within GEN, the Estonian government, the European Commission, as well as from SNS partners and sponsors.
  • Coordination conference with assigned team members and mentor(s).

At SNS: Once at SNS, validate your idea with delegations of policy shapers from more than 60 countries.

  • Participation in the full SNS program, where Policy Hack participants will have the opportunity to mingle with SNS delegates, as sounding board exercise for their policy ideas.
  • Participation the 5-hour policy hack exercise, which will feature:
    • Team support: Active participation from complementary policy hack team members - carefully selected peer delegates and policy stakeholders, including startups, investors and researchers on your topic.
    • A competitive atmosphere: Three policy hack teams will be selected to pitch their policy solution to full SNS audience, based on the criteria of a) most potential impact on rates of scale-ups; and b) most innovative solutions. However, those outside the top 3 will still be encouraged to pursue the implementation of the policy solution if the test at the hack was a success.
  • Access to the Innocreativation event, which provides the context for SNS and offers an additional relaxed atmosphere with networking opportunities.

Post-SNS (December 2018 - May 2019): After receiving help with testing and validation, it is time to implement the policy solution.

  • Assistance with early implementation: those selected at the Policy Hack as the top 3 will continue to receive assistance from the organizers and mentors, for 6 months following SNS, for the purposes of implementation feedback.
  • Reporting implementation results: Those who tested their policy idea at SNS are expected to continue to work on monitoring it and report results and share the experience with peers at the April 2019 Global Entrepreneurship Congress in Bahrain.



GEN and its Startup Nations policy network is able to bring communities together to test programs and policies that build healthier ecosystems for entrepreneurs in 174 countries. SNS brings the all-important link to dozens of new entrepreneurship stakeholders to keep everyone honest and anchor our research and assumptions with real experience from our ecosystems.



The following are ideal candidates for the Policy Hack: 

  • Public sector leaders focused on helping new and young businesses in their country who are looking to implement an innovative policy tool (such as a change in regulation or a specific program), but would like to put their policy idea to the test in front of peers and entrepreneurs prior to implementing it.
  • Government officials who need to unleash a wave of innovation in a specific industry or policy domain, and who have some ideas about how to do it, but need to build momentum or wish to test the idea prior to implementation at home.
  • Leaders of cities, regions, or countries that are interested in creating a regulatory sandbox-type platform for dialogue between regulators and innovators.
  • Advocacy organizations currently working with the public sector on improving specific aspects of the policy environment. 

In sum, the Policy Hack is intended to help those who are ready to move from a relatively well-defined policy idea to an early implementation or tested policy stage.

If you are interested in participating in the Policy Hack, please send your application to Your email application needs to present the idea you wish to hack at SNS. You may apply by submitting your policy idea via the Public Policy Lean Canvas. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis.

If you are not currently in a position to move forward with a specific policy proposal, but perhaps you have recently implemented a policy change, you may also request to become one of peer members in specific Policy Hack teams and help those who are just undergoing change. You can use the Policy Hack as an appetizer for upcoming policy changes without going through a policy change yourself.

See 2018 policy hack teams here.

See 2017 policy hack teams here.

To review past outcomes of the various editions of the Startup Nations Policy Hack, please click here.

We also invite you to review our FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS section.