The Startup Nations policy network will again recognize the leaders behind policy developments that support new waves of entrepreneurs directly following this year’s Global Entrepreneurship Week.

For this third edition of the Startup Nations Awards, members from a high-level selection committee will devote their time and expertise to evaluating applications according to criteria for each of three award categories, specified in the call for nominations:

  • Local Policy Leadership
  • National Policy Leadership
  • Groundbreaking Policy Thinking

Government is just one of the many stakeholders in any entrepreneurship ecosystem, but it is an important one: government sets the rules of the game for new entrants into a market and shape the future of scale-ups from every angle—from the quality of the local talent pool to the rules and incentives for investors. Public sector efforts can therefore have a significant impact on an economy-–enabling startups to create new jobs and drive innovation forward. 

Entrepreneurship policy leaders often work behind the scenes doing the heavy lifting, sometimes in specific units within institutions that struggle to understand new and young businesses. The incremental improvements introduced by these policy champions occur over years, coming to light when we hear about them championing exponential changes like new legislation. Startup Nations looks to walk that journey with their members as a year-round platform for policy discussion. 

Join us in celebrating the accomplishments of those who have dedicated their careers to shaping the policy environment for entrepreneurs by submitting a nomination here (deadline: August 31, 2017).

Finalists will join our selection committee members at the Startup Nations Summit Awards Reception on Tuesday, November 21, 2017, in Tallinn, Estonia.  As in previous years, the members bring a variety of perspectives and policy shaping experience: 

Kristin Schreiber
Director for COSME Programme & SME Policy, European Commission

Kristin Schreiber is the Director in charge of the COSME Programme (fostering the competitiveness of European SME's) as well as SME, start-up and scale up policy in DG GROW, the DG for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SME's of the European Commission.

After Studies of International Relations, Economics and European Law at the Institut d'Etudes Politiques in Paris, the University of Kent at Canterbury and the College of Europe in Bruges, she worked as a Graduate Lecturer at the University of Kent in Canterbury and a researcher on the Single Market in Bonn, before joining the European Commission in 1990 where she held a variety of positions. Kristin was appointed to her current position in 2015 after serving as Director for Governance of the Single Market and International Affairs.

Previously, she was Head of Cabinet of Employment Commissioner Vladimir Špidla, Deputy Head of Cabinet of Internal Market Commissioner Michel Barnier and member of the Cabinets of Enlargement Commissioner Günter Verheugen and Competition Commissioner Karel Van Miert. She also served as Head of Unit for International Affairs in the DG for Employment and Social Affairs.


Jason Wiens
Policy Director, Kauffman Foundation

Jason Wiens is Policy Director in the Entrepreneurship Department at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, where he leads the Foundation’s policy outreach and education initiatives to federal, state, and local elected officials. Wiens also oversees a grant portfolio of policy-related research and is the lead author of the Entrepreneurship Policy Digest. He has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Roll Call, The Hill, Washington Monthly, Real Clear Policy, and Forbes. Prior to joining the Kauffman Foundation, Wiens was deputy legislative director for U.S. Senator Jerry Moran where he provided counsel to the Senator and oversaw the development and implementation of the Senator’s legislative agenda. He led bipartisan efforts in the U.S. Senate related to entrepreneurship, immigration, and economic mobility.


Fiorina Mugione
Chief, Entrepreneurship Section, Division on Investment and Enterprise, UNCTAD

Economist with twenty years of experience in international investment and entrepreneurship. Leads the entrepreneurship programme at UNCTAD with a focus on policy development and capacity building. Coordinates the Empretec centres that deliver around the world the UNCTAD's entrepreneurship behavioral training in almost 40 countries around the world. Lead speaker in topics related to globalization, entrepreneurship and innovation, investment facilitation and aid for trade. She is fluent in English, French, Italian and Spanish. 


Hugo Kantis
Director, Entrepreneurship Development Program (PRODEM)

Dr. Kantis is the co-author of Developing Entrepreneurship: Experience in Latin America and Worldwide. He has devoted 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. Dr. Kantis is the 2016 Winner of the Startup Nations Award for Groundbreaking Policy Thinking.


Tri Rismaharini
Mayor of Surabaya, Indonesia

Mayor Tri Rismaharini, who was runner-up by Fortune Magazine for World’s Best Mayor in 2015 and finalist for the 2116 Startup Nations Award for Local Policy Leadership, has worked to turn her city of Surabaya into a bourgeoning Indonesian metropolis known for its creative industry entrepreneurs. One of her programs, “Economic Heroes of Surabaya,” has empowered more than 5,000 women to build their own enterprises, ranging from fashion and food to handicrafts. Another of her initiatives is Start Surabaya, the first city-level tech startup incubator in Indonesia focused on creative entrepreneurs in the digital industry. 


Jonathan Ortmans
President, Global Entrepreneurship Network

Jonathan Ortmans serves as president of the Global Entrepreneurship Network, a platform of programs and initiatives helping people in 160 countries unleash their ideas and turn them into promising new ventures—creating jobs, unearthing innovations for society and strengthening economic stability around the world.

In 2014, Ortmans was tapped by U.S. President Barack Obama to chair the SPARK Global Entrepreneurship initiative that has helped generate more than $1 billion in private investment for emerging entrepreneurs around the world. He is also a senior fellow at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and serves on the boards of several non-profits including the Center for Entrepreneurship in Moscow. 

Trained as an economist, with two startups and exits under his belt, Ortmans blogs weekly on high-growth entrepreneurship at and has emerged as a chief global strategist in building startup ecosystems around the world. Ortmans lives in Washington, DC, with his wife and three young children.

Do you know of talent promoting smarter policymaking in the field of entrepreneurship? We encourage all interested individuals to submit nominations by August 15, 2016.  


Thomas M. Cooney
Policy Advisor to the Irish Government, European Commission, OECD and European Training Foundation

Professor Thomas Cooney is Professor in Entrepreneurship at the Dublin Institute of Technology, Editor of Small Enterprise Research academic journal, and a member of the Department of Enterprise Advisory Group that published the 2014 report 'Entrepreneurship in Ireland'.

Prof. Cooney is an expert for various EU and OECD working groups with substantial media experience, as has contributed to various initiatives in that capacity, such as Jury Member for the European Enterprise Promotion Awards and Grand Jury Member for the European Commission ‘European Enterprise Promotion Awards’.