Free Cities: Urban start-ups for our connected future.

Many of the greatest innovations in human history are those that change the ways we connect with one another. Everything from the written word, to the printing press, to Facebook and Skype has allowed people to form closer connections and organize themselves, even across geography and borders.

One way that people connect is by forming organizations like clubs, schools, or business teams. All of these, especially the business team, are indispensable parts of the entrepreneur’s toolkit, allowing them to bring people and resources together.

But in many parts of the developing world, people face extremely high barriers to forming organizations to connect and cooperate. This prevents many aspiring entrepreneurs from building prosperous businesses and bringing their ideas to life. It drives a wedge between the natural, growing and ever-changing connectedness between people.

Free Cities is a project for radical social entrepreneurs working to awaken these connections.

A start-up by a young Kenyan or Guatemalan often has trouble finding reliable utilities, fair courts, and access to the capital needed to grow. This stalls their hard work and prevents everyone from benefiting from new ideas. It keeps people poor and unemployed. It slows the growth of our social knowledge.

Instead of letting their good ideas languish, imagine a start-up city, an incubator – an urban start-up for start-ups – that offered an environment conducive to building and connecting these firms. These urban incubators could offer cutting edge, low-cost, and environmentally-friendly technology, including a first-class legal environment to bring entrepreneurs together with their collaborators. This brings entrepreneurs’ tools of organization to the regions which need them most.

Cities have a rich history as engines of creativity, economic growth, and tolerance for change and experimentation. They are large enough to offer opportunity for those with a variety of skills, as well as diversity in culture, which together meld to form new lifestyles. But they are also small enough to cope with the inescapable reality of entrepreneurial risk.

Together, these make Free Cities the ideal place to unleash the entrepreneurial talent of the developing world and to incubate the innovative ideas that will create our connected future.


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