Many organizations around the world implement programs designed to encourage entrepreneurship, including grant prize awards, accelerator programs, incubators, etc. The goal of these programs is to supply entrepreneurs with early-stage support and visibility to help develop ideas and attract capital; but, if capital markets are efficient, good business ideas should find funding anyways. In this paper, I present evidence from the first global scale,
quasi-experimental study of whether entrepreneurship programs improve outcomes for start-up firms. I employ a regression discontinuity design to test whether winners of start-up program competitions perform better ex-post than losers, where the threshold rank for winning the competition provides exogenous variation in program participation. With 460 competitions across 113 countries and over 20,000 competing firms, I find that winning a competitions increases the probability of firm survival by 64%, the total amount of follow-on financing by $260,000 USD, and total employment by 47%, as well as other web-based metrics of firm success. Impacts are driven by medium-size prize competitions, and are precisely estimated both in countries where the costs of starting a business are low and where these costs are high. These results suggest that capital market frictions indeed prohibit start-up
growth in many parts of the world.