The Entrepreneurial University: What the University of Colorado has to learn from MIT and Stanford

On Tuesday, October 2nd, 2007, Silicon Flatirons held a roundtable discussion exploring how to increase the propensity of faculty and students to engage in entrepreneurial activities.

As part of its strategic planning process, the University of Colorado at Boulder has begun exploring how to increase the propensity of faculty and students to engage in entrepreneurial activities. Nationwide, there are a few universities with a commitment to supporting entrepreneurship that can serve as examples. Notably, MIT and Stanford are two schools renowned for using the knowledge creation and invention that takes place on their campuses to create high quality companies. In contrast, many schools do not achieve such results, even with similar characteristics. This disparity raises the two questions addressed by the roundtable: (1) what separates a university that engages in this process effectively–i.e., the “Entrepreneurial University”–from the university that does not?; and (2) how can the University of Colorado-Boulder become an Entrepreneurial University?

On Tuesday, October 2nd, 2007, the Silicon Flatirons Program held a roundtable discussion on the Entrepreneurial University, focusing on whether the University of Colorado should do more to encourage entrepreneurship in its faculty and students, and if so, what should be done. The roundtable was held at the University of Colorado Law School and was moderated by Silicon Flatirons’ founder and Professor of Law, Philip J. Weiser. The roundtable included many of the leading individuals in the Front Range entrepreneurial community, notably Jim Crowe, CEO of Level 3, as well as University leadership, with CU-Boulder Chancellor G.P. “Bud” Peterson and Provost Philip DiStefano in attendance. (A list of roundtable attendees is set forth in Appendix A.)

The roundtable highlighted a number of the institutional and academic barriers at CU, as compared to other highly successful entrepreneurial universities, and specifically highlighted the need for clarity, at all levels, concerning what place entrepreneurship should hold, both within the campus itself and in the University’s Flagship 2030 strategic plan. To prepare for the discussion, participants were asked to look at the examples of MIT and Stanford, specifically in the context of their support of entrepreneurship, and to make comparisons to CU-Boulder.

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