Regional focus on Boston, Miami, and Detroit in the latest Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) United States Report demonstrates major differences in entrepreneurial activity

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During the past two years, more than 25 million Americans were starting or running new businesses in the United States—according to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) 2016 United States Report(pdf) released today by Babson College. Additionally, more than half of Americans see good opportunities around them for starting a business.

Unique to this GEM report is a city-level analysis of entrepreneurship in Boston, Miami, and Detroit. Collectively, they provide a window into how entrepreneurship occurs locally in different parts of the United States.

“While entrepreneurship is promoted and celebrated nationally, many initiatives occur at the city level, like Boston’s MassChallenge and Miami’s Venture Hive accelerators,” said Babson College Professor and report co-author Donna Kelley. “It is important to identify a city’s needs and monitor progress relative to entrepreneurship—whether that means, for example, supporting women or youth entrepreneurs, or assisting ventures that introduce innovations or create jobs.”

This latest GEM report provides a comprehensive and detailed account of entrepreneurship in the United States. A key aim is to provide a broad audience—educators, researchers, policymakers, practitioners—with information and analysis that can enhance understanding, decision making, and actions regarding entrepreneurship. In its 18thconsecutive year, GEM continues to serve as the largest and most comprehensive single study of entrepreneurship in the world.

U.S. Highlights

Fifty-seven percent of Americans see good opportunities around them for starting a business. This is what distinguishes the United States most when compared to the world’s other 26 innovation-driven economies, where, on average, 41 percent see entrepreneurial opportunities around them.

U.S. entrepreneurs also are driven most by opportunity (88 percent). Necessity motives dropped to only 11 percent—below the low level reported in 2008, before the recession depressed entrepreneurship rates in the years that followed.

Thirty-seven percent of all U.S. entrepreneurs are developing and delivering innovative products or services. This represents the highest level on this indicator in 15 years—higher than the average for all other innovation economies (31 percent).

U.S. entrepreneurs are twice as likely to compete in the finance sector compared to the average innovation-driven economy.

While the 26 other innovation-driven economies demonstrate their highest total entrepreneurial activity (TEA) among 25- to 34-year-olds, the U.S. actually peaks in the next oldest age group, among the 35- to 44-year-olds.

The slight overall rise in U.S. TEA rate is due to an increase among women entrepreneurs. More women entered entrepreneurship last year than the year before, while this level has remained the same for men.

Boston, Miami, and Detroit

Regional TEA Activity:

  • Miami—22 percent
  • Detroit—20 percent
  • National average—6 percent
  • Boston—12 percent

Close to one out of five entrepreneurs in Miami and one out of six entrepreneurs in Detroit are starting businesses out of necessity. Only 8 percent of entrepreneurs in Boston are doing the same.

Both Boston (46 percent) and Detroit (43 percent) show higher levels of innovative entrepreneurial activity compared to the national average, with Boston’s level nearly twice that of Miami (24 percent).

Detroit stands out for having the highest entrepreneurship levels among the lowest third of the income category, while the highest third of the income earners are most likely to start businesses in Boston and Miami.

Age patterns show high entrepreneurship rates among young people in Detroit, those in mid-career in Miami, and people in their late careers in Boston.

Out of the three cities, Boston demonstrates the widest entrepreneurship gender gap. Women in Boston start businesses at around half the rate that men in Boston do.

Capability perceptions are at or above the national average in Miami (60 percent) and Detroit (57 percent). Likewise, compared to the national average, a lower proportion of entrepreneurs in Miami (27 percent) and Detroit (21 percent) are afraid to fail. People in Boston, however, did not exhibit high perceptions about startup capabilities, and they reported a higher fear of failure than in the other two cities.

In Miami (24 percent) and Boston (36 percent), a larger percentage of entrepreneurs have at least some graduate education compared to the national average (19 percent).

In terms of industry:

  • Miami shows high startup activity in manufacturing/transportation
  • Boston has higher-than-average levels in information/communications technology and finance/real estate
  • Detroit exhibits higher wholesale/retail activity than national levels

Compared to national averages, Miami and Boston have more than twice the proportion of entrepreneurs who plan to have more than 25 percent of their total sales go to international markets.

About the Report

This report provides a detailed assessment of entrepreneurship in the United States, based on the 18th annual survey of the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM). The GEM U.S. team, based at Babson College in Massachusetts, is one of 65 national research teams who conducted an annual adult population survey (APS) in their economy in the summer of 2016. The 2016 GEM Global Report provides national-level comparisons on key entrepreneurship statistics across these economies and groups of economies by both geographic region and development levels.

Report authors include: Babson College Professor Donna Kelley; Babson College Vice Provost of Global Entrepreneurial Leadership Candida Brush; Babson College Professor Andrew Corbett; Babson College Associate Professor Madhi Majbouri; and Babson College Associate Professor Phillip Kim.

National Key Findings











About the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor

The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) was initiated in 1999 as a joint venture of Babson College and the London Business School. It has gained widespread recognition as the most authoritative longitudinal study of entrepreneurship in the world and accomplishes this effort through the collaborative work of a consortium of national teams consisting of academic researchers from around the world. Each national team oversees an annual survey of at least 2,000 working-age adults (ages 18 to 64). Starting with just 10 developed economies in 1999, the project has grown to involve more than 100 economies during 18 annual cycles. GEM is unique because, unlike most entrepreneurship data sets that measure newer and smaller firms, GEM studies the behavior of individuals with respect to starting and managing businesses. At a time in history when individual entrepreneurial activity may hold the key to transforming the global economy and discouraging ingrained economic disparity in countries with minimal economic opportunity, GEM data has influenced national economic policies and continues to expand its collaborative role. For more information, follow GEM on Twitter.

About Babson College

Babson College is the educator, convener, and thought leader for Entrepreneurship of All Kinds®. The top-ranked college for entrepreneurship education, Babson is a dynamic living and learning laboratory where students, faculty, and staff work together to address the real-world problems of business and society. We prepare the entrepreneurial leaders our world needs most: those with strong functional knowledge and the skills and vision to navigate change, accommodate ambiguity, surmount complexity, and motivate teams in a common purpose to make a difference in the world, and have an impact on organizations of all sizes and types. As we have for nearly a half-century, Babson continues to advance Entrepreneurial Thought & Action® as the most positive force on the planet for generating sustainable economic and social value.  


By Brianna Radicioni,, (781) 239-4548 | 11/12/2017 06:05