There are occasionally some attempts at pattern recognition to decide whether a nascent area might be disruptive or meaningfully impact an incumbent sector. Too often, however, the reference points struggle to be fair. While history sometimes rhymes it fails to repeat, according to writer Mark Twain.

For universities and the venture capital firms that feed off their student and faculty talent pools, looking back at how the institutions grappled with other education developments, such as television, or just expansion of the sector can be helpful. But present-day challenges, including a wider group of stakeholders and the impact of the internet, also requires thinking about for the changes that need to be made to survive and thrive.

Fortunately, there is no shortage of thinkers on campus and at venture firms, even if time and work pressures and information overload means the space to do the analysis and willingness to shake up settled patterns of behavior can sometimes be in shorter supply. What has been seen is a number of sophisticated approaches marrying traditions and local cultures and established business models and organization structures, which has created relatively large amounts of differentiation between institutions let alone countries and whole systems.

This month, therefore, Global University Venturing begins its regional surveys of the venturing and commercialization strategies and offices at universities around the world, starting with the UK and Scandinavia. For a list of the regional surveys we will be carrying out each month please check out our website here and contact Gregg Bayes-Brown to help with the news and information for these forthcoming surveys.

The variety of ways to help support the nascent entrepreneurs has been impressively large and varied over the past few years, in what some have dubbed a Cambrian explosion of life. But following an explosion is often a contraction and survival of the fittest is often those who are most adaptable and open to change rather than those who appear strongest or fastest, according to Charles Darwin.

While there are increasing numbers of entrepreneurial competitions on campus – Katie Petersen, chief executive at IStart, said it had run more than 250 showcasing 13,000 businesses in the past few years – and entrepreneurial courses are becoming core components for students outside of business and management studies, for some these are just check boxes to show compliance to stakeholders wanting them. Too many institutions have a confusing alphabet soup of different departments, offices and centres all trying to help but resulting in lack of resources and clarity about what they do and do well.

Clarity of aims to meet specific stakeholders’ needs in this area can often come from a well-funded, well-resourced group acting as a gateway for people outside the university wanting to find out more and internal faculty and students wanting help with their ideas. The experience of the corporations and foundations that have used venture investing is both salutary and promising as after decades of repeated failures and quixotic efforts, many have established trained cadres of practitioners and senior management who understand their value and support their efforts as strategic necessities.

Understandably, universities have looked to their peers for answers, but they can also be found through other large organisations with similar innovation antibodies of politics, inertia, bean-counting and mismanagement.

Bringing together the venture philanthropy, venture capital and corporate venturing communities with their university peers from around the world and representatives from the stakeholders at government and entrepreneurial levels is a goal for our inaugural Global University Venturing Summit in Brussels on October 16 – see the agenda here– and our readers will be most welcome to attend and share their lessons on changing and thriving over the next few years.

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