Before we kick off the next season, I have a very special episode for you today. 

At the end of 2022, I found out that there are several federal funding opportunities for entrepreneurial ecosystem builders here in the US. The US government is starting to see the effectiveness of an ecosystem approach and has started recruiting some of their programs accordingly, which is a great opportunity for grassroots ecosystem builders to finally get their work funded.

The downside is, they’re not really called entrepreneurial ecosystem building, so I knew I had to find someone who could help us translate these opportunities. 

In this episode, I am excited to introduce you to Melissa Roberts Chapman at the Federation of American Scientists who took the time to break down these funding opportunities for ecosystem builders here in the US. Meet Melissa Roberts Chapman. 

Melissa Roberts Chapman has worked at the nexus of policy, entrepreneurship, innovation, and economic development throughout her career. She identifies as an ecosystem builder and entrepreneur, and is a proud native of Kansas City.

Prior to joining the Federation of American Scientists, Melissa was a Senior Program Officer at the Kauffman Foundation, where she led a grantmaking team focused on building more inclusive, collaborative, and vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystems in the Heartland. Previously, she held leadership roles in entrepreneurship support organizations, started her own business, led coalition-building efforts, and managed political campaigns.

Melissa is deeply involved in her community, working both “in” and “on” Kansas City, where she is based. She is passionate about centering equity in her work, and building a future in which geography has no impact on the opportunities folks can access. In her free time, she and her husband Brad enjoy watching the Royals, perfecting brisket smoking techniques, and throwing dinner parties.

Melissa earned an MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management with a certificate in Business Analytics, and a bachelor’s degree in History from Boston College.

Click here to listen to this episode on your favorite podcast player!

Listen to the full episode to hear:

  • Why ecosystem builders should keep paying attention to and partnering with legacy sources of funding and support
  • How to bridge the language gaps between ecosystem builders and potential investors
  • Why there is a place for all kinds of entrepreneurs in innovation ecosystems

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