Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, Rick Stengel, and Stanford University President John Hennessy at announcement ceremony for Stanford hosting 2016 Global Entrepreneurship Summit. (Stanford University photo)

Stanford University to be Site of Global Entrepreneurship Summit 2016 hosted by President Obama

By Richard Stengel, Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs at the U.S. Department of State.

From the Gold Rush to the digital age, America’s economy has been powered by the spirit and reality of entrepreneurship. Beginning with the first Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) in 2009, President Obama has made the promotion of entrepreneurship a goal of U.S. foreign policy. The idea of entrepreneurship is one of most potent aspects of brand USA around the world. But it’s also much more than that: it is a tool for development, for empowering marginalized groups and for combating violent extremism. It’s vital to creating the conditions for global growth and prosperity, particularly in regions where chaos and war have shattered dreams.

Last summer, more than 600 entrepreneurs from 120 countries attended the GES in Nairobi, Kenya. The summit was one of the best and most inspiring events I’ve participated in during my time in government. From the Nigerian educator who has started a peace curriculum that combines Islamic studies with modern science to the Canadian grad students who are devising an algorithm that brings two sides closer in a negotiation, the summit brought together an amazing collection of creative, courageous people, all of whom are working to make the world a better place.

To build on the success of GES 2015, President Obama has decided to hold the 2016 Global Entrepreneurship Summit in the heart of American entrepreneurship: Silicon Valley. Today I had the pleasure of joining John Hennessy, the President of Stanford University, to announce that the 2016 Global Entrepreneurship Summit, hosted by President Obama, will take place on the Stanford campus from June 22–24, 2016.

As one of the world’s great innovation laboratories, Stanford is an ideal partner to showcase the world’s leading entrepreneurs. This will be an extraordinary event, attended by 1,000 delegates and some of the most creative and innovative young entrepreneurs on the planet. Each of the world’s six regions will be represented by 100 entrepreneurs and will be joined by 100 more from the U.S. We have already received some 4,500 applications from more than 150 countries.

This year’s GES will create new opportunities for investment, partnership, and collaboration; enable American entrepreneurs and investors to connect with international counterparts to form lasting relationships; and highlight entrepreneurship as a means to address some of the most intractable global challenges. The summit represents what I think of as perhaps the most important power of public diplomacy in the 21st century: the power to convene. GES isn’t about long speeches to captive audiences about policy; it’s about putting innovative global entrepreneurs together with each other and with those who can help turn their dreams into reality.

This is why we’re so excited that Stanford will host GES 2016. As Stanford President John Hennessy said moments ago: “Stanford embodies the supportive ecosystem that encourages and inspires innovation and creative problem solving. We are proud that Stanford will be a partner and serve as the venue for this important global event. We are honored that President Obama has chosen to convene the Summit at a university, where we share his dedication to finding solutions to global challenges.”

We look forward to welcoming all the amazing entrepreneurs to Stanford for a gathering that will advance our shared goals of stability, development and peace.


Editor’s Note: This blog originally appeared on DipNote, the U.S. Department of State’s official blog.