From May 13-16, in Washington, DC, the Urban and Regional Policy Program held its third METROS convening and workshops around the policy themes of innovation and entrepreneurship. URP partnered with the DC-based start-up incubator 1776 to give METROS participants access to the organization’s annual Challenge Festival, a convening of hundreds of entrepreneurs and start-ups competing for top honors. The Challenge Festival acted as a backdrop for the peer-to-peer learning workshop sessions organized by GMF around these topics, and were followed by two days of panel discussions with leading experts on innovation and entrepreneurship policies
The peer-to-peer workshop sessions increased participants' baseline knowledge of global entrepreneurship and business cultures by unpacking the knowledge and expert panel discussions within an intimate and guided process. GMF and the METROS participants thus combined participation in the 1776 Challenge Festival learning with a unique blend of structured debriefing and strategy building workshop sessions, which helped participating cities hone in on what specific themes within entrepreneurship policymaking they wanted to focus on moving forward.
After the first full day of panel discussions at the 1776 Challenge Festival on May 14, METROS cities convened at GMF headquarters to debrief on the day’s conversations, discuss the progress made from the preceding workshop in Genoa, Italy, and set next steps in the goal setting process. In this unpacking session, METROS cities identified and keyed in on three policy areas where challenges to implementing goals had arisen since the previous convening in February. Of the list of challenges, three rose to the top of the agenda: political and policy reform challenges, challenges engaging with entrepreneurs at the city level, and lack of global outlook and strategy from the city level. GMF then facilitated a process for the METROS cities to work through these issues and develop tools to strengthen the effectiveness of their goals.
As part of the learning components of the METROS program, the cities participated in a high-level breakfast roundtable discussion on May 15 covering the subjects of metropolitan competitiveness and entrepreneurship policy. The event featured key staff and leaders from each of their embassies, in addition to leading American diplomats and government leaders. This was followed by 1776 Challenge Festival’s Innovation Economy Day at the US Chamber of Commerce, which marked the second full day of panel discussions and thought leadership events.
GMF then reconvened the METROS cities back at GMF headquarters for a final strategy workshop. This workshop gave the METROS cities the necessary tools to build comprehensive entrepreneurship strategies by empowering and connecting with entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial activities in their cities. The workshop involved the participation of two entrepreneurship experts, Lisa Balter-Saacks of GUST and Satya Rhodes-Conway of the Mayor’s Innovation Project, who gave the cities concrete tools to help build better policies and strategies.
By the end of the final workshop, each city had developed a primary actionable goal based in one of the three policy challenge themes discussed during the first workshop, and an action plan with three month and six month goals for the development of policies to create better environments for innovation and entrepreneurship. The METROS cities will be charged with reporting on these actionable goals in fall 2015 at the final METROS convening of the year in Thessaloniki, Greece.