The World Economic Forum’s motto is to “improve the state of the world”. However, we also have an informal one: “entrepreneurship in the global public interest”, based on the belief that entrepreneurial thinking and activity can, should and does create a wide range of benefits for both individuals and society. For a number of years now, the Forum has been examining the factors that support entrepreneurship, given that there are wide global variations across levels of entrepreneurial activity and across the innovation that supports and flows from it.

One such initiative, titled Fostering Innovation-driven Entrepreneurship in Europe, spent 2013 addressing specific regional challenges. Two important ideas have arisen from this work, which looks to merge the Forum’s cross-regional research on entrepreneurial ecosystems with an understanding of the specific challenges and opportunities facing European entrepreneurs.

First, supporting entrepreneurship in Europe can be aided by an appreciation of the entire entrepreneurial life cycle, which can be divided into three primary phases: “Stand up”, where individuals or groups are equipped with the attitudes and skills to attempt scalable entrepreneurial ventures; “Start up”, where resources are marshalled and regulatory barriers overcome to initiate new activity; and “Scale up”, where successful ventures spread and expand in innovative ways. In each phase, we identify challenges and examples of practices to foster entrepreneurship in the region so as to create serial entrepreneurs who will try again when they fail, reinvest when they succeed, and support a healthy ecosystem throughout.

Second, recognizing the challenge of geographic and sector fragmentation that typifies the landscape of entrepreneurship initiatives across Europe, we propose a European agenda for effectively promoting innovation-driven entrepreneurship. Three key elements of this agenda are: “Focus”, the need to employ explicit criteria for identifying and investing in momentum-building entrepreneurship initiatives; “Connect”, the opportunity to develop a transparent, inclusive Europe-wide database and network of initiatives for entrepreneurship; and “Partner”, the prospect of achieving both scale and momentum by encouraging initiatives, ideas and organizations to actively collaborate across the region.

The blog posts in this series focus on different stages of the life cycle and different aspects of a European agenda to support innovation-driven entrepreneurship. While some of these address the European experience and entrepreneurs who wish to found entirely new businesses and ventures, we hope that the ideas here will be inspiring and relevant to other regions and to entrepreneurs who operate within large corporations or non-traditional organizations.

Read Why entrepreneurship should start at school by Rajeeb Dey.

 Author: Nicholas Davis is Head of Constituents and Europe at the World Economic Forum.

 Image: A man adjusts a tower clock REUTERS/Brian Snyder