Entrepreneurship Trends on Campus

Last weekend, I had the pleasure of participating in the annual conference of the Global Consortium of Entrepreneurship Centers, which is just that—a global consortium of entrepreneurship centers located on university campuses.   Georgetown University’s Entrepreneurship Initiative was a great host.

The event included many interesting presentations, especially for someone like me who isn’t teaching entrepreneurship for a living.   Lots of interesting things are happening on campus, but I’ll just highlight 2 here:

1) A Boom in Student-led Social Entrepreneurship Efforts:  Young people want to get engaged and want to give back, and are thus very attracted to social entrepreneurship.  Georgetown is becoming a real center for new approaches here.  I was very impressed with Georgetown’s Social Innovation Public Service Fund, a two-year old student run fund to invest in social and charitable ventures.  SIPS has already succeeded in raising big bucks, with more than $1 million available for student projects.  Compass is a student-led fellowship program that works with cohorts of 15 students to inspire them to start social ventures and to consider social entrepreneurship as a career adn vocation.

2) Accelerators on Campus:  As they are in the “real world,” business accelerators are a hot topic on campus too.  Dozens of schools are now operating different types of accelerator programs, with lots of different approaches and models gaining traction.  I joined a well-attended panel that highlighted two different models.  At Ohio State, they run the 10X Accelerator program, but also run an accelerator project as a for-credit class.  The program hopes to spur new business starts, but is focused primarily on supporting current students.   In contrast, Arizona State’s Venture Catalyst program is more focused on building a strong entrepreneurial ecosystem in the region.  It supports faculty and students, but expects many firms to come from outside of the ASU community. Center directors seem to be torn on whether an internal/academic or external/community focus makes the most sense.  The right answer probably falls somewhere in between.   As I learned at GCEC, many programs are acting like entrepreneurs, with new approaches and new business models emerging all the time.


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