SOURCE: Kauffman Foundation

February 15, 2007 10:30 ET

EntrepreneurshipWeek USA Kicks Off Largest Nationwide Celebration of Entrepreneurship

Next Generation of Entrepreneurs Participate in Events to Engage Their Innovative Spirit

KANSAS CITY, MO -- (MARKET WIRE) -- February 15, 2007 -- EntrepreneurshipWeek USA kicks off later this month in what may be the nation's largest organized event to celebrate entrepreneurship, with activities designed to inspire, educate and prepare young people to consider entrepreneurship and innovation in all aspects of their lives. Activities are scheduled in all 50 states and nearly every major city in the U.S.

Entrepreneurs, government officials, university and non-profit leaders, educators and economic development officials, representing more than 1,200 organizations and universities from across the country, have organized and will host activities during EntrepreneurshipWeek USA -- Feb. 24 through March 3, 2007.

Several nationwide educational, policy, and mentoring/networking events will serve to highlight EntrepreneurshipWeek USA, including two national contests that ask aspiring young entrepreneurs to pitch their big ideas on, a social networking Web site of EntrepreneurshipWeek USA.

On Saturday, February 24, EntrepreneurshipWeek USA kicks off from the campus of Stanford University, with a high-energy launch event featuring Stanford President John Hennessey, Kauffman Foundation President and CEO Carl Schramm and venture capitalist Steve Jurvetson. In addition to highlighting the role of the university in an entrepreneurial economy, the EntrepreneurshipWeek USA Innovation Challenge competition will be unveiled.

Other national events include a policy summit in Washington, D.C. that will examine key policy areas with a view toward promoting economic growth and innovation, as well as lowering barriers that make it harder than it should be for individuals to form and sustain businesses. The Kauffman Foundation will release a white paper that outlines those key policy areas in order to prompt and further public debate. Additionally, the National Governors Association will conduct a news conference in support of policy measures to help spur entrepreneurial activity.

In addition to the summit in DC, EntrepreneurshipWeek USA will also be celebrated on Monday, February 26, at NASDAQ's NYC Times Square headquarters in a bell closing ceremony, signaling the day's end of trading. This landmark New York City event will be followed on Tuesday with a networking and mentoring event scheduled at New York University and the release of The 2007 State New Economy Index, a nationwide state-by-state ranking of how state economies are adapting to the challenge of a new economy marked by innovation and entrepreneurship.

The Kaufman Foundation, in partnership with Arizona State University, Starbucks, The New York Times, and the Society for College and University Planning, will also be hosting a complimentary live webcast, "Entrepreneurs and Higher Education: Catalysts for Advancing Sustainability," March 1, 2007 from 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm EST. Panelists include Peter Thum, Founder of Ethos Water and Vice President of Starbucks, and Jonathan Fink, Vice President of Research and Economic Affairs, Arizona State University. James Gorman, Deputy Science Editor for the New York Times, will be moderating. The webcast will explore the role of entrepreneurs and higher education in adopting and promoting sustainable practices.

In Kansas City, home of the Kauffman Foundation, more than 100 area partner organizations will team up to host over 60 events throughout the metropolitan region. Events range from two day-long conferences for hundreds of entrepreneurs, and a 2-day conference that will bring together the leaders of technology transfer from all Big 12 universities. A breakfast at the Kansas State Capitol will focus on the importance of entrepreneurship for the Kansas economy. Events at area colleges and high schools include panel discussions, entrepreneur fairs of student businesses and support organizations, student competitions, kindergarten lemonade stands and job shadowing days where students spend a day with area entrepreneurs.

These events are only the beginning. From students competing in the Entrepreneur Idol contest in Philadelphia, PA, to the Lemonade Stand event in Charleston, WV, where eight fifth grade classes will be selling lemonade at the state capital, to the Cleantech Innovation Competition in Denver, CO, EntrepreneurshipWeek USA is taking the nation by storm.

With the theme, "What's Your Big Idea? Take it On!," the EntrepreneurshipWeek USA initiative is designed to serve as an inspiration for young people to think creatively and to turn their ideas into action -- whether that means starting a new business, developing an innovation for an existing company or solving a problem that makes society better. On a national basis, the week is sponsored by The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, Inc. magazine and The New York Times.

"Educating our young people about entrepreneurship and reinforcing the value that entrepreneurs and innovators bring to our economy is critical to America's long-term prosperity -- more so now than ever before," said Carl Schramm, president and CEO of the Kauffman Foundation.

According to Kauffman Foundation research, 41 percent of children ages 9-12 say they would like to start their own business. "Young people have a natural desire for the independence and control that comes with owning a business and being their own boss," Schramm said.

Additionally, entrepreneurship is a driving force of the U.S. economy. During the past 15 years, businesses less than five years old have accounted for about 70 percent of the net job creation in the United States. However, while America presently maintains the edge as an entrepreneurial society, there are clear signs of massive economic competition from abroad. Future Americans will need to be generating more ideas and better innovations if the United States is to stay ahead of the large populations of educated citizens in emerging and globally savvy economies.

For information on all the events and activities across the country, or to get ideas for involving young people in EntrepreneurshipWeek USA, please visit:

Contact Information

    Tom Phillips

    Jon Ratliff

    Matt Pozel