Startup America Partnership, the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit created by AOL cofounder Steve Case to boost entrepreneurship, is merging with Startup Weekend, the 54-hour networking and pitching marathon, to create a new organization to connect and support entrepreneurs around the world.
"Our hope is that we can create a global startup ecosystem," says Scott Case, CEO of Startup America Partnership. The new entity, which will be known as UP Global, will allow Startup America to expand its mission and purview beyond its initial focus—both geographically and temporally. While the organization was launched as a three-year project to jumpstart startup activity and deepen entrepreneurial connections in 30 regions across the United States, UP Global will combine Startup Weekend’s more siloed events in 400 cities in more than 100 countries.
UP Global, which will be based in Seattle, will also help unify Startup Weekend’s operations—NEXT, its four-week accelerator course, and StartupDigest, an e-mail newsletter it acquired last year—under one brand. "We had our core three products, but none of them worked together," says Marc Nager, President and CEO of Startup Weekend, who will also lead UP Global as CEO. The new entity is being funded by the Kauffman Foundation, the Case Foundation, Google, Microsoft, and the Coca-Cola Company. Both Startup America and Startup Weekend will operate under their brand names, which they will retain.
The partnership comes at a time when entrepreneurship is increasingly seen as a catalyst for economic growth, a movement that has stretched from the efforts of the Obama administration, which first launched the Startup America campaign in 2011, to the United Nations, which has been developing new ways to teach and foster entrepreneurship in underdeveloped areas of the world. As such, UP Global aims to be a model and a network for those countries. "The best hope for a peaceful world is economic and job opportunities," says Steve Case, who will chair the new partnership. "It’s not about thinking of Africa as needing your support. It’s thinking of it as an opportunity."
[Image: Flickr user Shubert Ciencia]