It seems that every country and major city in the world is trying to become the next Silicon Valley. New York has coined the phrase ‘Silicon Alley’, Austin has ‘Silicon Hills’ and then globally there is Ireland’s ‘Silicon Docks’ and the ‘Silicon Wadi’ in Israel. Having ‘Silicon’ in the name, however, does not mean a region can recreate the unique history that allowed for the creation of Silicon Valley. So the question is – how can an emerging country spur entrepreneurship and innovation?
To develop a growth strategy for a single business entity, one should start by understanding the resources and capabilities of that business. Internal culture as well as external factors such as the economic and political environment will also shape the growth strategy for the business entity. Are emerging ecosystems applying a similar methodology? Or are they trying to replicate a successful entrepreneurial ecosystem from another part of the world? Our hypothesis is that a deep understanding of the history, culture, political and economic climate and current resources of a country/region is necessary in order to develop a strategy to nurture and accelerate entrepreneurial activity.
For this GIM class, we will focus on the development of the entrepreneurial ecosystems in Mexico and Brazil. We want you to understand the historical, cultural and economic context of these countries in order to understand and evaluate their current strategies to develop their entrepreneurial ecosystems. We will be focusing on the ecosystems of both Mexico City and Sao Paulo as they are the two top tech centers in Latin America.
Entrepreneurial ecosystems are composed of a variety of stakeholders - universities, accelerators, incubators, venture capital firms, private equity firms, banks/fintechs, family businesses, corporate innovators, etc. Students will be organized in teams that will research one of these stakeholders throughout the course.
During the first part of the course the focus will be on providing a foundation of knowledge on 1) launching and growing ventures, 2) how entrepreneurial ecosystems evolve and are evaluated and 3) the unique history, economic, political and cultural context of Mexico and Brazil. During the second half of the course, students will be expected to reach out to alumni and other in-country contacts for virtual interviews with their stakeholders. At the end of the course, students will aggregate, synthesize and analyze insights from all stakeholder teams to evaluate the issues, successes and opportunities for the entrepreneurial ecosystems in each country. .
It is our hope that this GIM course gives you greater understanding on how to evaluate and advance economic development initiatives in your city and country in the future.