Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) play a vital role in filling the need for jobs in emerging economies around the world, according to Dr. Luca Iandoli, a visiting research professor at the Stevens Institute of Technology School of Systems and Enterprises (SSE).
Dr. Iandoli was one of several Stevens-affiliated speakers who participated in the seventh GW October Annual Entrepreneurship Conference in Washington D.C., which brought together policy-makers and experts from around the world to discuss the state of small and mid-size business development.
In his keynote speech at the opening panel of the conference, “The State of SME Policies and Support Programs,” Iandoli discussed targets set by governments for SME policy development and provided insights on strategic priorities for improving business environments.
He was joined in the panel by Maria Contreras Sweet, the current administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), and Anabel Gonzalez, senior director of the World Bank Group Global Practice on Trade and Competitiveness.
The conference was co-produced by the International Council for Small Business, which in June held its 2016 World Conference in part on Stevens’ Hoboken campus. World Bank Group and The George Washington University also co-hosted the October conference.
During the event, Dr. Winslow Sargeant, a former chief counsel for advocacy for the SBA and a member of the Stevens President's Leadership Council, led the panel discussion, “SME Policy Design and Evaluation: Insights From Research on Entrepreneurship and Innovation.”
Dr. Sargeant said after the conference that discussions at the event focused on ways to create an environment where entrepreneurship thrives. The consensus among participants, he added, was that small and medium entrepreneurs will play an ever-expanding role in world economies.
“We have more people than we have jobs,” he said. “The only way to address that is to cultivate the entrepreneur.”
Entrepreneurs in the United States have the advantage of a stable legal environment and access to capital, Sargeant added. Many other countries will have to develop their infrastructure and support systems before entrepreneurship takes root and expands.
Iandoli and Sargeant were joined by another member of the Stevens community, Dr. George Korfiatis — the McLean Chair Professor in the Department of Civil, Environmental and Ocean Engineering and the former provost — at a workshop focused on developing entrepreneurial ecosystems in universities.
“The systems research work we conduct at Stevens focuses on addressing the complex socio-technical challenges of this century,” said Iandoli. “Policies that advance innovation in the global economic ecosystem to restore economic growth, promote job creation and reduce poverty are keys to this ongoing effort.”