A new nationwide project, ENO-Net, seeks to further entrepreneurship in New Zealand in unique and innovative ways.

Foreword from Hon Phil Twyford, Minister for Economic Development:

“Our Government is committed to building a productive, sustainable, and inclusive economy. To do this, we must draw on the diverse talents of our people, the creativity of our start-ups, and the established networks of our industries.

Entrepreneurial activity drives new businesses which are at the forefront of innovation. They create the highly-productive and pioneering firms we need to drive our future exports and improve the wellbeing of our people now, and into the future. It is the spirit of entrepreneurialism that enables us to meet the aspirations we have for our country, our communities, our whanau, and ourselves.

This article celebrates the huge efforts underway to grow New Zealand’s stock of entrepreneurial capital and to better understand its contribution to wellbeing, and to the innovation and productivity of our businesses and communities.

I’d like to thank all those who are part of this work and to others wishing to join, welcome.”


Entrepreneurship Nurturing Organisations (ENOs) foster human capital and business growth in a number of different ways. A network of ENOs in New Zealand (ENO-Net) has recently begun collaborating on efforts to better define and measure entrepreneurial capital as a multi-dimensional stock of capabilities and attributes that enables well-being and value creation of many kinds. We are exploring these ways and how they factor into our discussions about how we grow as a nation. We want to measure how investments in boosting entrepreneurial capital through ENOs can pay off on multiple levels.

There are many, varied, and growing examples of ENOs that are currently building entrepreneurial capital in our team of five million:

  • Young Enterprise programmes train secondary students to articulate an original value proposition and pitch to investment committees for seed capital.
  • Post-secondary ENOs (universities, polytechnics and incubators like Startup Dunedin, The Icehouse, Soda, CIE and The Atom) urture creative ideation and ‘growth mindset’ to pursue many types of value creation.
  • NZ’s network of angel financing organisations, as well as commercialisation and technology transfer groups associated with our universities and CRIs, nurture startup founders’ capabilities which (directly and indirectly, through positive externalities they generate) help grow NZ’s productivity and wellbeing.
  • And ENOs now promote innovation in the public sector too. Examples include CreativeHQ’s Lightning Lab GovTech, the Ministry of Justice’s Behavioural Insights Aotearoa and local councils using feasibility-testing techniques.

All of these ENOs have unique missions and value constructs and are working to develop our collective stock of entrepreneurial capital. They help and inspire people to develop new ventures and spark firm-level innovation, creating new value across NZ’s economy. As one young participant in a not-for-credit university startup programme put it: “I can now see so many new ways to use what I learned in my degree and create value in the world. The startup experience grew my awareness of those opportunities and gave me skills and confidence to pursue them.”

Measuring how ENOs create value for individuals and societies enables us to make more informed decisions about how we invest in New Zealand’s team of value creators’ capabilities and well-being. Because Aotearoa’s ENOs are unusually well-networked, and thanks to the excellent data that New Zealand possesses (IDI, Longitudinal Business Data, and firm-level productivity), we have an opportunity to produce first-in-the-world ‘hard evidence’ linking ENOs and entrepreneurship nurturing in programmes like those listed above to income and health outcomes (at the individual level) and labour productivity, revenue growth, exports and job creation (at the firm level). Starting with these orthodox economic KPIs, we will then have wider support to continue broadening this research programme showing how the development of entrepreneurial capital can help society grow in fruitful and sustainable ways.

How might this change the way we think about entrepreneurship? For many years we’ve defined the purpose and outcomes of entrepreneurship in financial terms. Entrepreneurial activity drives innovation and generates wealth, but we argue that it can also create other forms of well-being: the confidence to apply ideas and knowledge, purpose, learning, community, support, connections, and so on. Not recognising this multi-dimensionality means that we often underestimate the value of entrepreneurship and programmes that support it.

We are increasingly aware of broader conceptions of well-being, and how development need not and should not be measured in purely financial terms. The four capitals in the Treasury’s Living Standards Framework — financial/physical, natural, social, and human — are being used to an ever-greater extent as we think differently about how we measure success. Defining and measuring entrepreneurial capital presents an opportunity for ENOs to think differently about their contributions to New Zealand’s team of five million.

If you think your organisation is an ENO and would like to join this project, or just want to find out more about ENO-Net and its aims, please contact us: ENOnet@mbie.govt.nz or Nathan.Berg@otago.ac.nz


Professor Nathan Berg at University of Otago, Zach Boyle and Ron Clink at Ministry for Business, Innovation, and Employment, Professor Stephen Cummings and Dr Jesse Pirini at Wellington School of Business and Government.