As part of the Global Entrepreneurship Network's (GEN) year-round platform of initiatives, there are some that might not produce the cacophony of ideas and perspectives typically experienced at a successful youth hackathon. The GEN Research + Policy efforts try rather to mentally slow down the entrepreneurial dynamics “machine” to make sense of how the pieces that are a part of it move and connect with each other to propel the larger ecosystem.

Understanding how entrepreneurs function and where they function best involves experimenting with the pieces. The Startup Nations Summit in Seoul has gathered this weekend those who are doing just that: implementing programs and policies to enable innovators to test their ideas on the market while measuring impact along the way.

Should failures that lead to more experienced entrepreneurs -- who then take those skills to a new venture or even to established businesses -- be a celebrated product of pro-entrepreneurship programs? Questions like these are the heart of the research and policy arm of GEN. Its members are not deterred by the messiness that characterizes entrepreneurship but rather embrace the challenge.

Connecting local policy leaders to their opposites through the Startup Nations network or for candid discussions at the GEC Research + Policy Summit (now going into its third successive year of momentum) has enormous value for improving the understanding of entrepreneurship. The next summit will take place during the GEC in Milan this March (you can register to join this research and policy conversation next spring). Like other components of GEN that build one global community of entrepreneurs, GEN Research + Policy enables an important group of ecosystem feeders to help each other keep pace with the field and comb the world for best practices.

This past week — Global Entrepreneurship Week — demonstrated a clear demand to know what really works in enabling viable firms to scale. We were once enormously excited to report through our observations during the annual GEW that startups were springing up even in the most unexpected parts of the world. The GEW leaders that formed GEN then also gave testimony of the fact that entrepreneurial programs, capital and talent were seeing only porous borders and travelling far to find the most promising founder teams. This phenomenon of globalization and democratization of entrepreneurship brought an explosion of programs as well as enthusiastic supporters who took the risk to walk in the dark without enough data around what actually works and what does not in supporting nascent entrepreneurs.

GEN seeks to diminish that risk, by helping them identify areas that need priority revision through diagnostic tools, such as the Global Entrepreneurship Index released last week. GEN members are also interested in ensuring that the voice of the actual entrepreneur is not ignored, by breaking siloes, integrating them into discussions, and providing vehicles such as the GEW Policy Survey. In fact, we are today proud to report that national and local startup-savvy policy advisors are, like entrepreneurs and investors, also on an on-going and global quest to discover answers that will help them fine-tune policy and program efforts.

It is a formidable and never-ending task we have ahead, but to help policymakers implement more sophisticated tools and measure results, researchers from various institutions like the Kauffman Foundation, Endeavor Insight and Nesta have formed the Global Entrepreneurship Research Network to align their efforts in order to bring about the next generation of entrepreneurship research, and establish open, standardized data resources.

In sum, GEN will help increase understanding of one of the most important engines in our economy, by creating strong links between the growing community of startup policy advisors and a network of world-class entrepreneurship research institutions. The expected output: more robust research and data to support evidence-based policymaking and more effective entrepreneurial support programming.

Cristina Fernández focuses on integrating policymakers into startup ecosystems across the world, creating platforms for them to exchange ideas… About the author