As part of the 2018 Startup Nations Summit, entrepreneurs, thought leaders and other startup champions from around the world hacked seven different challenges to support their ecosystems. Through weeks of research and one day of in-person intense discussion, mentoring and live pitches, these teams developed viable policy solutions.

The 2018 Startup Nations Policy Hack took place in Surabaya, Indonesia, and culminated in a live pitch competition. Team leader Yatin Thakur, managing director of the Global Entrepreneurship Network affiliate in India and chair of GEN Asia, and his team members took first place at the competition for hacking a solution that reduces barriers to entrepreneurs.

The innovative solution is the “gAsia Pass,” which is a new initiative by GEN Asia and other collaborators. The gAsia Pass offers a digital entrepreneur membership card which speeds up and facilitates access to government startup support services (such as a startup visa or tax benefit) and curated professional services.

Thakur’s team members included Marie Wall, startup director and deputy director, Division for Research, innovation and Access to Finance at the Ministry of Enterprise in Sweden; David Kuo, managing director of GEN Taiwan; Andrew Outhwaite, incubator facilitator for the government in Western Australia; and Mark Hugh Sam, adviser to GEN Taiwan.

“The biggest challenge which entrepreneurs face today is access to the right markets and smooth movement – especially around their own nations,” said Thakur. “We feel gAsia Pass would be able to solve that issue through a single digital identity of entrepreneurs and their enterprises with support from governments from its members’ nations.”

Unlike traditional policy hacks where challenges are chosen by the organizers, the Startup Nations Policy Hack called for team leaders to bring specific, real challenges to the table. Team leaders were also asked to bring a preliminary idea of how to address such challenges. Following the policy hack, these team leaders commit to test the hacked solution in their respective ecosystems.

Two teams, led by Felipe Matos, the vice president of Dinamo in Brazil, and Jak Koseff, the chief director at the Office of the Premier, Gauteng Provincial Government in South Africa, were finalists in the hack. Matos’ team tackled how to form and shape a Brazilian Startup Act ­– looking at the best possible changes in regulations and how to involve the ecosystem and government officials in the discussion. Koseff’s team took on the problem of misalignment between the initial intention of South Africa’s “ 30 percent procurement policy” and its level of impact.

“The Startup Nations Summit brings policymakers and key stakeholders from a number of countries to share best practices, and the hack initiatives allows some of the key ideas to accelerate and scale-up policies and ideas in less than a couple of months,” said Thakur. “These hack initiatives are surely defining the new governing structures.