The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor was conceived in September 1997 by Michael Hay of London Business School (LBS) and Bill Bygrave of Babson College. LBS and Babson funded a prototype study that year. Ten 'National Teams' (the G7 economies: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, United Kingdom and United States and three additional economies: Denmark, Finland and Israel) conducted the first GEM study in 1999 with Paul Reynolds as the principal investigator. Under his supervision the project grew to 31 national economies in 2003. 

The first GEM Annual Meeting, Babson College, 1999

In order to govern the interests of the GEM National Teams, the Global Entrepreneurship Research Association (GERA) was formed in 2004 to serve as the oversight body for GEM. GERA is a not-for-profit organization governed by representatives of the national teams, the two founding institutions and sponsoring institutions.