At the Case Foundation and Revolution, we have long been supporters of the idea that unleashing the power of entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial approaches is crucial to drive innovation, accelerate economic growth, create jobs and solve big, intractable problems. That’s why we’ve invested directly in entrepreneurs, supported programs like the US-Palestinian Partnership (and as a result the creation of a venture capital fund in the West Bank) and created initiatives like the Startup America Partnership and Rise of the Rest. And it’s why I’ve served, and continue to serve, in leadership roles for efforts like the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship and as a Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship.
In May of 2013, we supported the creation of a new organization – UP Global, which represented the combined power of the rapidly growing Startup Weekend and the Startup America Partnership, which we co-created alongside the Kauffman Foundation. I’ve been proud to serve as chair of UP Global as the organization seeks to leverage grassroots communities to create and nurture entrepreneurial ecosystems in the U.S. and around the world. Since that time, the UP Global organization has continued to expand – nearly doubling the presence of Startup Weekend, which in 2014 held 905 events in 501 cities (in 135 countries), and introducing new programming like Startup Week, bringing together 18,000 attendees in places like Columbus, Phoenix, Manila and Stockholm. You can learn more about the organization’s growth in its most recent impact report, available here.
Today, UP Global has taken an important next step in the future of the organization by becoming a part of Techstars, an organization that has played a key role in identifying high-potential entrepreneurs and bringing the power of the ecosystem to help them grow. The merger will combine two powerful entrepreneurial networks with closely aligned missions. It is our hope that the efforts of UP Global will continue to gain momentum, further extending its global footprint and reaching more people in more places.
The Startup Weekend, Startup Next, Startup Digest and Startup Week programs will remain under the Techstars umbrella, and while much of the groundwork and principles established by the Startup America Partnership efforts will continue within a number of Techstars programs, the brand will not. At the Case Foundation, we continue to see an opportunity for an effort focused specifically on the role of entrepreneurship to drive American innovation, and as a result we have retained the Startup America Partnership brand. We have begun to explore opportunities for future Startup America programming, and will have more to share in the coming months.
In the meantime, please join us in congratulating the UP Global and Techstars team as they forge a new path ahead for entrepreneurial ecosystems around the world.