SUPPORT | May 20, 2019

Tackling Overlooked Policy Areas

Photo Credit:

This post is part of a four-part series on policy lessons shared by policymakers from across dozens of countries ahead of their participation in the V Startup Nations Ministerial:

  1. Start with a Strong Signal 
  2. Mind the Gap Between Idea and Impact
  3. Overcome Implementation Challenges
  4. Tackle Overlooked Policy Areas

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

When asked to reflect on policy areas in which they feel more action is necessary, many government leaders coincided in pointing out that there is still a deficit in the following components of their countries' policy frameworks:

Technology transfer and commercialization

Nearly every entrepreneurial ecosystem has an institution of higher education or research, and many policymakers express a desire for those institutions to produce more in terms of innovation. Some governments have tried to facilitate greater commercialization from universities, with varying degrees of success. Action here is not easy, in part because it raises difficult issues around intellectual property. Yet in terms of payoff, the potential is large.

Public procurement

Many governments create special procurement programs for SMEs, with set-asides and quotas. Fewer governments take action to simplify those procurement programs or target them to specific groups, including new and young companies (not just SMEs). South Africa has taken this on with targeted procurement policies for vulnerable and marginalized groups. Bahrain is also taking action on procurement. In many places, procurement programs may exist, but they are difficult for startups and entrepreneurs to navigate.

Diversity and inclusion

Increasing the inclusiveness of startup ecosystems is an articulated priority for governments everywhere. Action is less frequent. This, too, is not an easy area to address, and many policymakers tell us they still haven’t found ways to make their policy actions effective, not just symbolic. The experience of Nepal may serve as an example, where the Micro-Enterprise Development Program has, since 1998, helped entrepreneurs from marginalized groups living in poverty. This challenge — and ways to address it — will vary across countries.

From funding to deal flow

An analysis by Startup Genome found that efforts to increase funding and access to capital were the most frequent and intense area of policy action. Many policymakers express frustration that such actions might increase the flow of money but don’t necessarily increase the flow of investable deals. More intensive work is needed to spend time with companies, training them on how to export or how to recruit. This type of assistance takes time and energy and is more difficult than allocating funds to a new financial program.

 

Are you a government official working on entrepreneurship policy design and implementation? Join the Startup Nations policy network of startup-savvy officials for discussions on these and other pain points, as well as successes in the policy field, by emailing Cristina@genglobal.org with information about your work.

Dane Stangler is a senior advisor to the Global Entrepreneurship Network where he helps ensure that resources spent on new policies and programs… About the author

Cristina Fernández focuses on integrating policymakers into startup ecosystems across the world, creating platforms for them to exchange… About the author