The fallacy of entrepreneurialism is the lone ranger myth of someone in their attic working on their big idea before launching it to the world’s applause.
Even those who did start a business in their garages or bedrooms – such as Dave Packard and Bill Hewlett or the two Steves, Wozniak and Jobs – required an ecosystem of corporate and university backing around them. Jobs and Wozniak became friends after working at Hewlett-Packard in 1971, a generation after the HP founders had ventured out from Stanford University with the encouragement of the faculty head, Fred Terman.
And it is to those responsible for building the corporate and university venturing ecosystems that we are also extremely grateful for the success of our inaugural, sold-out Global University Venturing Summit – an event that seems to have repaid the time and efforts of those attending and sponsoring. Many thanks to host Baker Botts, Silicon Valley Bank, Intramezzo and Innogy Venture Capital.
Here are a few testimonials from last month’s summit:
“We all enjoyed it. Thank you for the award and the great write up. We would be delighted to keep in touch and are very interested in your global view of university venturing. For Cambridge, it is important to keep up with what our peers are doing around the world.”
Edward Benthall, chairman, Cambridge Enterprise
“I was sincerely impressed by the people [attending the summit].”
Simon Bond, director, SetSquared
“I enjoyed the event and the chance to share ideas with a great group of people. I look forward to other opportunities to get together.”
Dave White, senior adviser, Schlumberger
“It was a true honour to be invited to this great event.”
Gerard Pannekoek, president and chief executive, IPXI
“I really enjoyed the event.”
Crispin Leick managing director, Innogy Venture Capital
“Thanks for the opportunity to be part of the conference. I thought it was very good and great to meet some new faces. University venturing is an interesting new area.”
Rupert Osborn, chief executive, IP Pragmatics
“What I found most interesting was the number of new or lack of the normal faces, which is good, and the amount of grey hair, even relative to me.”
Bruce Beckloff, partner, Bloc Ventures
A full report from the summit, with pictures, begins overleaf, and see last month’s awards supplement on that evening’s gala celebration, but there was plenty of potential for disagreements as well as positives from greater partnerships linking universities, governments and corporations.
As one delegate said: “There is a lot of work to do to get the university market moving. Academia rules commericalism. That will need to change.”
Naturally, many universities think this is one area that does not need change, even if there are greater moves towards developing ideas commercially. Academic institutions fit themselves into buckets shaped by their paymasters – research-led, teaching-led or socio-economic development institutions developing a workforce and business owners.
The strategic focus is being forced as the estimated 12,500 universities face competition globally for the best students and faculty, and an existential crisis over online courses. As Beckloff said in his unpanel discussion on ecosystem collaboration: “Universities are looking to new revenue streams to offset the reductions in government support. Everyone rushes to tech transfer, but universities tend to overvalue the IP [intellectual property] component and undervalue the implementation thus stifling commercialisation.”
On IP, another unpanel questioned how you value your IP, how it is captured and monetised within limited budgets and how you evaluate commercialisation routes from spinout to licence?
These types of question underpin much of the reality for entrepreneurs looking to bring their ideas to life. Entities
that learn how to collaborate and let the entrepreneurs flourish will reap the rewards. This collaboration starts with people meeting and sharing their work and its motivation, breaking down unfounded assumptions and generating the trust that they can build things together.
Thank you, therefore, to those who have helped our first event be such a success and helped us to celebrate the launch of this title. Let us know what we can do to help more in future.