Help Grow the Field of Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Building

Join a collaborative effort to design, create, and validate the advancement of the entrepreneurship ecosystem building field of practice.

Jeff Bennett
3 min readApr 19, 2022
Ecosystem Builder

A small, but growing number of people are turning to entrepreneurial ecosystem building as a strategy to build more inclusive and resilient economies. For years, the leading standard bearer in this nascent movement was the Kauffman Foundation. Their annual ESHIP Summit was created with the mission to “advance ecosystem building as a new approach to economic development to help more people and communities achieve economic independence through entrepreneurial success.”

Recently the movement transitioned to a new stage. Rather than leading the charge as the prime organizer, the Kauffman Foundation has undertaken a new approach — funding a collaborative effort to design and create a new entity with the purpose to provide shared leadership for the advancement of the practice of entrepreneurial ecosystem building in the United States.

This project, The Ecosystem Building Leadership Project (EBLP), recently launched the design phase. Hosted by InBIA, the project is being led by a cross sector, multi-stakeholder leadership group. The project kicked off its initial seven month public design phase on April 4th and is actively seeking and inviting ecosystem builders to participate.

The EBLP leadership team has put out an open call to join their working teams. Working teams will meet twice a month and focus on particular aspects of the project. Current working teams include:

  • Charter
  • Communications
  • Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion
  • Governance
  • Network Health
  • Sustainability/Resiliency

Team members should have domain-specific knowledge, experience in ecosystem building, or past participation in field building.

I recently threw my hat into the ring to join the Communications working team. I’ve worked at the field level since 2018 to connect and inform ecosystem builders and advance the field. I’ve worked with the Kauffman Foundation, helping to advance the work of ecosystem builders as a former ESHIP champion. I’ve written extensively on the topic of ecosystem building on my Medium channel. And, in 2019 I launched Ecosystem Builder Hub to be an online resource for ecosystem builders.

Progress to grow and advance the field of ecosystem building has been slow and at times frustrating, and I’ve experienced burnout as a result of trying to do too much too fast. But, if EBLP is the next evolution of the ESHIP program, I feel compelled to give it another shot and see if there’s a way I can contribute to the growth of the field.

I believe that entrepreneurial ecosystem building is a critical, and under-leveraged, economic development strategy that is needed to revitalize economies. Entrepreneurship is the life blood of the economy and ecosystem builders are the circulatory system, the arteries and veins that facilitate the flow of ideas, resources, connections, and collaborations in entrepreneurial ecosystems. Professionalizing the field of entrepreneurial ecosystem building can be a significant leverage point to support ecosystem builders, entrepreneurs, and by extension, the communities and economies in which they all operate.

Do you believe that entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial ecosystem building have the power to transform lives, community, and society? If so, I encourage you to learn more about the Ecosystem Building Leadership Project and volunteer a few hours a month to lend your expertise, insights, and experience to an EBLP Working Team.

The project is also surveying ecosystem builders in order to better understand the current needs, challenges, and aspirations from the field in order to inform the project’s design. Take the survey.



Jeff Bennett

Exploring ideas, innovations, and technologies to adapt faster and better in a world of accelerating change.