Sep 13, 2022

Indiana Hosts US Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Builders to Advance Collaboration

On Sept. 8-9, the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) hosted entrepreneurship ecosystem builders from around the nation for the Ecosystem Building Leadership Project (EBLP). The project and event was led by InBIA, a global network of incubators, accelerators and other entrepreneurship centers. Seventy participants gathered in Indianapolis to build nine pilot projects and nominate a provisional council to continue the project. The IEDC was chosen to host the event given the state’s focus on developing greater infrastructure and support for entrepreneurs..

“Historically, in communities around the world, you could find networks of individuals and groups supporting each other in business ventures, but it’s not until recently that these networks have been formalizing into support systems like what we saw at the EBLP,” said Julie Heath, IEDC VP of entrepreneurial ecosystems. “New and young companies are a key driver of economic health and community well-being, and it was an honor for Indiana to host this group of leaders and practitioners who support entrepreneurship.”  


One of the projects identified during the event centered on developing toolkits for stakeholder groups such as policymakers, corporate partners, economic develop officials and academic institutions to assist them in learning more about entrepreneurial ecosystem development, hot to plug into the network, and execute on support initiatives.

Launched by InBIA, the EBLP is an initiative aimed to design, create and validate a supportive network of professionals and infrastructure of supportive resources. The ultimate goal is to create an entity or network to advance the practice of entrepreneurship ecosystem building. Funding for this project is from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. 

“The EBLP is a once in a generation opportunity to transform the ways in which communities support entrepreneurs and enable equitable prosperity,” said Charles Ross, project co-chair and president CEO of InBIA. “We’re excited to collaborate on this initiative with a great group of partners that will bring a wealth of insight, experience, and guidance to the project.”

The origin of EBLP stems from the work of more than 1,500 participants between 2017-2019 at ESHIP Summits hosted by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. Over the course of three years, ecosystem builders from all 50 U.S. States, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and 20 other countries gathered to join collective efforts to explore and progress the entrepreneurship ecosystem building field of practice. The EBLP is being hosted on behalf of the International Business Innovation Association (InBIA), with funding and support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

EBLP attendees included: 

  • Charles Ross, CEO and President, InBIA

  • Kristin Leutz, Co-Founder, Colmena Collective 

  • Beth Zimmer, Program Manager, U.S. Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Building Leadership Project 

  • Jennifer Shieh, Director of Ecosystem Development, U.S. Small Business Administration

  • Fay Horwitt, CEO and President, Forward Cities

  • Enoch Elwell, CEO, CO.STARTERS

  • Katie Gailes, Senior Director, Membership and Diversity at National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship (Charter Team)

  • Eric Renz-Whitmore, Disaster Recovery Coordinator, North Central NM Economic Development District

  • Cecilia Wessinger, Director of Global Community, Global Entrepreneurship Network

  • Frank Gruber, Co-Founder and Co-CEO, Established