The Gate2Growth Academic Network in Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Finance was launched in the summer of 2002 as a part of the Gate2Growth Initiative (www.gate2growth.com), which was sponsored by the European Commission’s Innovation Policy Unit (DG Enterprise and Industry), under the Fifth Framework Programme “SME and Innovation” (FP5). The European Institute for Advanced Studies in Management (www.eiasm.org) and the Vlerick Leuven Ghent Management School (www.vlerick.be) drew on their respective strengths and ambitions to co-ordinate and run the G2G Academic Network.

The main objectives of the G2G Academic Network in Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Finance were:

  • To foster the development of the academic profession, essentially research and teaching in entrepreneurship, innovation and finance, 
  • To support the exchange, dissemination and integration of knowledge, research expertise and teaching practice on a pan-European scale, 
  • To filter from the data, insights and results of the different activities, conclusion, recommendations and guidelines that can help policy-making, foremost at the European Commission.

The most essential activities and deliverables of the G2G Academic Network in Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Finance were:

  • the doctoral seminar series (outcome:PhD research papers), 
  • the specialized research workshops (outcome: proceedings and handbooks), 
  • the exchange and mobility of researchers (outcome: visit reports, and working papers), 
  • the case competition (outcome: European cases in entrepreneurship, entrepreneurial innovation and financing 
  • the European best paper award competition (outcome: policy oriented versions of theoretical research papers).

Ever since the start of the project these activities have made the network an important point of reference for the support, generation and dissemination of top-level academic research expertise at the earliest possible stage and of good teaching practice in the three main research domains. As more fundamental research results are translated into more practical insights and the development of specific training formats (toolkit), the findings and other deliverables are disseminated to a wider audience, including policy-makers and the business world. In an effort to centralise and share on a pan-European scale the largely fragmented knowledge and expertise, the network has become a prime partner for the EC in many different ways. First of all, the network actively helped to formulate policy guidelines and policy recommendations to stimulate entrepreneurial activity, and to detect better ways of supporting and financing innovative start-ups or research-based and high-tech ventures. Secondly, via the activities the network increased the quantity and quality of entrepreneurship research and education, as well as the educational impact of courses in entrepreneurship, innovation and finance. Also, the network facilitated the development of proper tools and methodologies of use for the very variety of interested parties, i.e. business-owners, politicians, investors, academics and other innovation experts and professionals.

The targets set at the beginning of the project were for the network to comprise at least 150 members, and to be self-sufficient in the future. At the end of 2006, the Gate2Growth Academic Network counted 312 individual members representing 162 Institutions from more than 25 countries.