GEW 2016: what a week!

Ewan Gaffney | November 24, 2016
Photo Credit: Running on Coffee

GEW 2016 is a wrap. This year 250,000 people attend more than 1000 events and consumed an incalculable amount of caffeine. 

But what did we learn this week that we didn’t know before? Here are our key takeaways from GEW 2016:


 The UK is a great place to start a business - and now we have the evidence

At the launch of GEW we revealed that the UK ranks 8th in a new global index of startup ecosystems.

The 2017 Global Entrepreneurship Index (GEI), produced by the Global Entrepreneurship Network and the Global Entrepreneurship Development Institute (GEDI), provides key information for policymakers and government leaders worldwide to strengthen their digital ecosystems and promote high-growth, high-impact entrepreneurship.

The UK's performance in the Index is important recognition of the hard work put in by the hundreds of organisations who work tirelessly to ensure that the UK’s SME sector continues to thrive.

The data contained warnings too. Quite simply the UK, along with other developed countries, is not creating enough high growth businesses. Understanding and addressing this issue is key for our long term economic health. 


 We’re more global than ever - and that matters 

In 2016 GEW grew to an unprecedented size, with more than 10 million participants worldwide; In the UK more events than ever before had a direct global connection. the global GEW ecosystem and the huge range of connections in the network played a bigger practical role than ever. The campaign provided an incredible opportunity for UK business to make direct links to entrepreneurs and ecosystems in 166 countries. 

Brexit was never far away from any conversation during the week. In the face of uncertainty UK entrepreneurs are actively looking to develop new and exciting ways to connect internationally. GEW provides an unparalleled platform to make these connections 

The next stop is the Global Entrepreneurship Congress, taking place in Johannesburg in March 2017. If you are interested in joining the UK delegation heading to meet 4,000 entrepreneurs, investors, researchers, policymakers and startup champions from more than 160 countries, then get in touch.

 Startups AND scale ups matter

Traditionally GEW has celebrated the cause of the startup entrepreneur, and brought together resources to help more people follow their example.As we have grown we sought to leverage our evidence base to help better understand the enalbing environment for startups. This year saw many compelling conversations about the importance of fast growing scaleup businesses and how to build the most effective environment in which scaleups can flourish.

According to the ScaleUp Review 2016 the UK has around 12,000 of these innovative and fast growing businesses. Identifiable as having had an annual growth in either employees or turnover in excess of 20 per cent per annum over a three year period. A better understanding of how they develop and grow has the potential to create 150,000 new jobs in the UK by 2034. This ‘scaleup gap’ is a growing area of focus for GERN and our global research partners. 

Documents like the ScaleUp Report and the ScaleUp Manifesto added to our undrestanding of this important area of research.


 GEW is a fully digital campaign

Technology, and specifically social tools, are the lifeblood of the GEW campaign. Across one week we’re able to connect to our colleagues and partners to share a wealth of information and resources for free globally.

This year, we were able to offer an even richer digital GEW for people who were stuck at their desks all week. From Entrepreneur’s Question Time to the global online premiere of Barefoot In Business, with hundreds of webinars and podcasts in between. 

Thanks to the rise of real time streaming on sites like facebook and periscope more and more people are sharing their own content - giving us all a better idea of the real scale of GEW. If you are interested in becoming a GEW Digital Ambassador in 2017 then let us know on the contact page.

 UK schools are entrepreneurship hotspots

This year hundreds of schools and colleges ran amazing weeks of GEW events of all shapes and sizes. This kind of activity is absolutely essential for today’s young people and we salute the amazing educators who make this work happen
Up and down the country tens of thousands of students got the chance to participate, selling products pitching new business ideas and developing new skills. Our education partners launched a range of new initiatives designed to bridge the growing skills gap and GEW helped develop new local partnerships with the business community
At University level our partners NACUE  continued to drive innovation on campus. The winner of the NACUE Varsity Pitch competition with a business making everyday products out of waste chicken feathers.

 Even the most successful entrepreneurs can benefit from GEW

GEW continued to benefit from the support and endorsement from high profile entrepreneurs around the world. This year our very own Richard Branson showed he hasn't lost his appetite for development. He picked out his favourite GEWUK events and Virgin hosted a range of great startup events packed with practical tips to help entrepreneurs.

 We’re all startup nations

The Global Entrepreneurship Network honored four individuals at the Startup Nations Summit in Cork, Ireland, for their leadership in implementing innovative public policies and programs to help entrepreneurs start and scale new businesses in their countries and around the world.
Policymakers and experts from Argentina, Thailand, Colombia and the United States were recognized at the Summit awards ceremony and gala for their contributions to entrepreneurship on a local, national and global level. The Startup Nations Summit is the official capstone to Global Entrepreneurship Week.


Ewan Gaffney
Managing Director of GEN UK and GEW UK. I'm a social entrepreneur, digital strategist and facilitator. I'm also an award winning campaign... About the Author