GES 2019 showcases innovations that are improving lives

The 2019 Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES 2019), co-hosted by the governments of the United States and the Netherlands, showcased the depth and breadth of innovations that are improving lives around the world, and the critical role of governments in enabling environments for innovation to thrive.

With a theme of The Future Now, GES 2019 empowered entrepreneurs to pursue solutions to global challenges in the following sectors: Agrifood, Connectivity, Energy, Health, and Water. To reach these goals, investors from across the capital continuum, ranging from venture capital firms to family offices, intersected with scientists and entrepreneurs to harness industries of the future such as 5G, advanced manufacturing, and artificial intelligence.

Investors, entrepreneurs, and policymakers all have important roles in harnessing these technologies to bring solutions to market, and GES 2019 brought these groups together to create the next waves of innovation. GES 2019 illustrated how investment in new technologies and businesses is spurring innovation now and building the foundation for future advancements.

Watch the GES 2019 recap video.

Women & Entrepeneurship

Women empowerment was a central theme in the GES program, resulting in over 35% female entrepreneurs, 3 theme sessions and a Women Power Lunch.

“Investing in women is just smart business” Ivanka Trump, Advisor to the President of the United States.

Several initiatives were presented to bridge the gender gap in the future workforce, including the partnership between USAID, OPIC, and Women’s World Banking Asset Management (WAM) seeking to mobilize $100 million to economically and digitally empower women in developing markets.

USAID announced the second WomenConnect Challenge ($1.5 million), an initiative launched by Ivanka Trump, aiming to empower women and girls to access and use digital technology. In the Netherlands, the FEM NL Initiative was presented by theNextWomen, FMO, ING, Rabobank, and ABN Amro, aiming to close the funding gap for female founders in the Netherlands.


One of society’s main challenges is to produce enough food for the growing world population and prevent food waste.

“The challenges are too big to solve alone. To achieve this, entrepreneurs do not only need funding, but also need to form partnerships.” Jacqueline Pieters, Rabobank

One successful example is a new partnership - announced at GES: University of California, Foodbite, Wasteless, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, United against Foodwaste, FME (Dutch employers’ organisation in the technology industry) and Rabobank partnered up to decrease food waste with 50 % in 10 years, globally.

One way to do this is to apply dynamic pricing in supermarkets for perishable food. The company Wasteless developed this technology whereby both waste is reduced and supermarkets gain higher margins.

U.S. based Kroger and the Netherlands based Kipster announced to build the world’s most environmentally and animal-friendly poultry farms. The Dutch innovation creates American jobs, raises the bar on animals welfare, and delivers carbon neutral eggs.

U.S. based AppHarvest and the Netherlands based Dalsem announced to build a 60-acre greenhouse in Kentucky, as past of an $82M deal with Equilibrium Capital. The structure will be among the largest in de U.S. when it opens in 2020.


The challenge within the water sector is to create a worldwide safe water supply. Water is used intensively in the food and energy industries. In 2025, more than 40 countries will suffer from serious water scarcity.

“Our blue planet Is thirsty”, Carl Ganter, Circle of Blue

During GES 2019, 362 entrepreneurs from 3 sectors (Water 96, Energy 133, Agrifood 190) were present, developing an integrated approach. One solution presented at GES is Groasis, a biodegradable container for planting in dry areas. Due to a special technology, the plants, trees, bushes or vegetables placed in the container will need 90% less water.


Connectivity improves the quality of our life and livability of our cities. Therefore, we need intelligent access and smart mobility technologies to connect people, places and products.

“Cities will operate like brains once we have 5G.” Jay Collins, Citi

At GES leaders and entrepreneurs in the Connectivity sector gathered to identify new solutions to do so. An example is Viasat, a company closing the digital divide by innovative satellite solutions, providing WiFi to rural areas in the developing world.

During GES, SAS Netherlands launched its D[N]A Lab, a powerful innovation hub which gives access to its robust data and analytics platform to scale-ups which are on the verge of expanding their business. Another example is PostNL and BigMile, who introduced a collaboration to reduce their environmental footprint.


The health sector is in a transition from going from sick care to prevention and keeping people healthy longer.

“The ideal for me is to no longer have a computer and a keyboard in my doctor’s office”
Adam Landman, Brigham & Women’s Hospital

GES brought together over 240 entrepreneurs from all over the world in four sessions spread over two days. The result? More than ten deals, among which the announcement of The Gritti Fund, the first investment fund for mental health and wellbeing that raised already over $150M, and the announcement of Coca Cola, who is going to share its research on mental health of generation Z.

At GES new collaborations were made to unite medicine, big data, and artificial intelligence to get a more detailed picture of the patient and improve a patients’ prospects by 30 – 40%.


Due to a growing population and more welfare, our CO2 emission and energy demand are rapidly growing.

“One big key in all these changes: collaboration. You can’t do it alone, we have to do it together.” Marjan van Loon, Shell

At GES more than 300 entrepreneurs and leaders in the Energy sector partnered up to find solutions. One of the options is Blue Energy; sustainable energy that comes free when fresh and salt water are brought together. It has the potential to generate 13% of the world energy need. 

Another energy solution with great potential discussed at GES is Hydrogen. It could be used for storing temporary surplus of renewable energy, reducing CO2 emissions by 60% in the next 30 years. Solutions like these will not only benefit the environment, energy storage is big business with a potential $620 Billion Investment Opportunity to 2040. 

Access to Capital

Access to capital was one of the central themes at GES 2019, represented by about 300 investors that were present from around the globe: institutions, private equity, asset managers, family offices and mostly venture capitalists all united by their direct or indirect focus on innovation, entrepreneurship and impact. Collectively, the investors present have assets under management of around $ 13 trillion and are investing billions of dollars in startup businesses.

Overall, the sessions showed the importance of changing the way we look at funding and broaden the scope. For example, investing in purpose-driven organizations focused on improving happiness, like The Gritti Fund is doing. And doubling the investment landscape, by investing in women too, acknowledging the diversity dividend.

A great step is taken by the USAID and OPIC as they are seeking to mobilize $100 million of commercial investments to economically and digitally empower women in developing markets. In order to ‘fund the future’, investors need to broaden their scope, become more inclusive and balance financial returns with impact strategies.

Industries of the Future

During GES 2019, three Industries of the Future sessions were organized around technologies that will have a major impact on our way of working. For example, the South Korean company KT Corporation presented several use cases for 5G networks. Due to 5G, all kinds of devices can be connected through the internet with significant speed and minimal loss of signal, creating opportunities ranging from VR, remote surgery, and autonomous driving.

GES 2019

The GES 2019 brought together close to 2,000 world leaders in innovation, entrepreneurship, investment, science and policy from more than 130 countries to promote entrepreneurship and contribute to major global challenges.

The focus of GES 2019 is on the 1,200 selected unique entrepreneurs who have developed or are developing promising innovative products and services. They are active in the food, water, health, energy and connectivity sectors and combine doing business with providing solutions to global social challenges. At GES, many new connections have been made, illustrated by the 15,000 messages sent by the GES-match-making-app.