The GEN Campus initiative is an effort to create scalable startup villages where entrepreneurs can connect, collaborate and share knowledge and networks in ecosystems where talent is plentiful but opportunity is not. Healthy entrepreneurial ecosystems benefit from new and young firm density within a given geographic area – making it easy for entrepreneurs to connect with each other and access the resources they need. While the global startup revolution has been accompanied by the emergence of plentiful shared office spaces, GEN Campus develops physical locations in an array of ecosystems facing barriers to entry, addressing a lack of a centralized location for ecosystem leaders and startups. Over time, GEN Campuses will also offer each other connectivity across national borders, serving as regional hubs for GEN activities and operations.
The GEN Campus initiative was launched in 2017 with the opening of 22 On Sloane, a 10,000 square meter campus in Johannesburg. In addition to becoming home for some of GEN’s national operations, GEN campuses attract local and regional startups through proven entrepreneurial support programs identified and tested around the world and also houses the leading entrepreneurial support organizations in the communities that they serve
GEN Campuses foster the development of four key elements of ecosystem vibrancy:
- Density – the number of new and young firms per 1,000 people within a given geographic area; share of employment in new and young firms; etc.
- Fluidity – the rate at which people move within and in and out of the space, which provides the continual remixing that is key to idea generation; labor market reallocation, and people's ability to find the right match of jobs.
- Connectivity – how easily are entrepreneurs able to connect with each other and access the resources they need. Programming within GEN Campuses can facilitate successive waves of new companies being created (such as through university spinouts and existing company spinoffs) and provide a space for informal networks of dealmakers to develop.
- Diversity – ensuring startups emerge in a variety of industries so that the economy is not overly reliant on a particular sector.