Entrepreneurs, universities, young people: join us March 14, 15

Since we published “Engines of Innovation,” Buck Goldstein and I have been noticing numerous actions where thought leaders seem to be moving closer to the ideas we suggested in the book. Some of our big points are that universities are sources of innovation, that cooperation with private sector entrepreneurs could be useful if done right, that engaging the campus in the community is key to creating an entrepreneurial environment around the university, and that social entrepreneurship offers a framework for understanding the application of entrepreneurial thinking to major social problems like inequality and poverty.

Should be interesting to see how this all comes together. Join us on Monday and Tuesday as we talk about these and other pressing topics facing the U.S.

To be sure, there were plenty of leaders there before we were, including other university presidents like Judith Rodin and John Hennessy, who are quoted in our book; and pundits like Dan Pink, Rick Florida, and Stephen Johnson who have been talking about innovation, motivation, and urbanization in similar ways.

Still, there have been some nice, new signals in the last few months. No doubt, President Obama made the biggest splash in the State of the Union when he touted innovation and universities. In the weeks since, he has made several high-profile moves, including the initiation of Startup America, chaired by Steve Case, who will be on campus to talk with me and Desh Deshpande at the GEC at 5:30 pm on Monday. That will be followed on Tuesday by an open meeting of the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship, which I am proud to host as a member.

The President summed up his thinking in less than 140 characters on Twitter, saying “We have everything we need to compete: bold entrepreneurs, world-class universities & young people brimming with promise.” Couldn’t have tweeted it better myself.

David Brooks chimed in by stating that universities served as a good model for thinking about American competitiveness, because we create entrepreneurial environments and attract talent to them. His column, called “The Talent Magnet” came out the same day as the SOTU, and he and I had a chance to talk about that and more the same day in an interview.

And now, Harvard’s Mike Porter, the leading thinker on strategy and competition, has jumped in with a lead article in the Harvard Business Review on shared value. Mike was in town this weekend, and Buck and I had the chance to talk with him. He believes that the concept of shared value, which we referred to in our book as the triple-bottom line, can become a motivator for corporations.

There are plenty of reasons to be suspicious that this can’t all come together. But there’s also reason to believe that lots of people are waking up to the complementary ideas that (a) the financial structure of the public sector is under stress that can be alleviated in part by the creation of jobs by private enterprise and that (b) private enterprise can’t succeed unless the surrounding people and communities thrive.

Should be interesting to see how this all comes together. Join us on Monday and Tuesday as we talk about these and other pressing topics facing the U.S.



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  1. By Get Innovative at Carolina! | UNC Press Blog on March 14, 2011 at 10:40 am

    [...] long-term change not just here at UNC, but for the entire country and beyond. Read his thoughts here.  These events are a great opportunity to see some big names in entrepreneurship bounce around [...]