The Global Entrepreneurship Network announced five finalists for the Startup Nations Award for Groundbreaking Policy Thinking. The award recognizes individuals or organizations for their instrumental analysis, innovative policy approaches or groundbreaking program concepts that significantly expand the frontier of entrepreneurship policy thinking around the world.

The award is one of three Startup Nations Awards that will be presented at the Startup Nations Summit Gala on Saturday, Nov. 19, in Cork, Ireland. The winner will be the second recipient of the Award, which was first introduced last year, when Neelie Kroes, former Special Envoy for Startups of The Netherlands, emerged as winner.

The other two Startup Nations Awards are National Policy Leadership and Local Policy Leadership.

“Brilliant and dedicated minds around the world are hard at work helping to create the right environment to advance entrepreneurial growth via intellectual direction that leads to smarter, evidence-based policymaking,” said Cristina Fernandez, director of policy and research for the Global Entrepreneurship Network. “The high-level Selection Committee chose these finalists for their proven track record in designing and implementing innovative projects and initiatives with great promise for being replicated in other locations.”

The Selection Committee evaluated nominations based on the following criteria:

          - Level of contribution to unveiling new angles, perspectives or policy areas brought to the entrepreneurship discussion table
          - Extent to which the nominee helped shift public discourse on startups and scale-ups in the public sector
          - Extent to which the nominee’s effort was based on solid research
          - Extent to which it is possible to adopt recommendations in a variety of entrepreneurship ecosystems

This year’s finalists for the Groundbreaking Policy Thinking Award hail from five different continents and cover a variety of initiatives including revolutionizing intellectual property ownership at universities and transforming how we look at entrepreneurial ecosystems by providing metrics to map and measure them.

Below are the five finalists for the 2016 Startup Nations Award for Groundbreaking Policy Thinking.


Ms. Efka Heder
Director, South East European Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning (SEECEL)

Ms. Heder was selected as a finalist for her work and commitment toward scaling entrepreneurship education efforts across Southeastern Europe, and fostering regional stability through cross-border entrepreneurship education collaboration. Despite a context of political instability and socioeconomic challenges in the Balkans, Ms. Heder elevated entrepreneurial learning as a priority policy area – resulting in a unique combination of national ownership, regional cooperation and policy learning.


Dr. Hugo Kantis
Director, Entrepreneurship Development Program (PRODEM)

Dr. Kantis is recognized for devoting his career to narrowing the knowledge and talent gaps to foster high-impact entrepreneurship ecosystems in the Latin American region. Specifically, he has led a multi-pronged effort to shift the policy mindset of a whole continent from a focus on microenterprises towards the more ambitious aim of promoting dynamic entrepreneurship from a systemic perspective. His achievements elevated the concept of evidence-based policymaking, as well as encouraged regular regional knowledge exchange to more effectively support entrepreneurs.


Mr. Caleb Carr 
New Zealand
President, Students for Intellectual Property Rights

Mr. Carr is pursuing a bold policy notion: that students can keep their intellectual property (IP). While studying at the University of Colorado, he learned that 75 percent of his startup’s technology would be owned by the university, irrelevant of whether he used university funds or not. Upon investigating the issue and realizing that it has had an impact on young entrepreneurs for decades, he embraced a policy battle with a vision of protecting the value that entrepreneurship can add to a student’s life. His efforts have revolutionized the notion of IP ownership at the state and university levels in the United States.


Dr. Zoltan Acs
United States
Founder, Global Entrepreneurship Development Institute (GEDI)

Dr. Acs is recognized for his dedication to tracing and benchmarking the development of entrepreneurship ecosystems globally. In particular, he has pushed the envelope on improving indices to more accurately capture the reality of entrepreneurship ecosystems, moving measurements beyond new firm counts and self-employment data to a combined approach that captures both individual and institutional factors when evaluating ecosystem performance. His work has helped several governments and multilateral agencies work on entrepreneurship as a development tool.


Mr. Yung-ku Ha 
South Korea
Chairman, Banks Foundation for Young Entrepreneurs (Dream Bank)

Mr. Ha has shown extraordinary commitment to creating a pipeline of Fintech entrepreneurs via a multi-faceted approach and stakeholder involvement. In cooperation with Korea’s major banks, passionate entrepreneurs, investors, government leaders, universities, and global partners, Mr. Ha opened a market for fintech startups. Inclusiveness has been critical in his strategies. Mr. Ha has patiently worked with conservative institutions to convince them to embrace innovation even in traditional sectors.

The finalists for the two Startup Nations Award categories (National Policy Leadership and Local Policy Leadership) will be announced via this newsletter over the next two editions.

Startup Nations is a network and platform dedicated to identifying policy levers that can unleash high impact entrepreneurship and innovation. The network is made up of “startup savvy” policy advisers focused on exploring different regulatory changes and other policy and public sector programs to help accelerate new and young firm formation in their economies. Members are building the Startup Nations Atlas of Policies (SNAP), the first-ever global compendium of public sector policies and programs. Startup Nations is part of the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN), a year-round platform of programs and initiatives engaging more than 160 countries while creating one global entrepreneurial ecosystem. More information at