To Dream, Perchance to Do


The New York Times recently published an article and feature on entrepreneurship education, and how it is gaining in popularity as a new generation of college students dreams of doing things bigger and better than generations past. 

Today’s students have grown up hearing more about Bill Gates than F.D.R., and they live in a world where startling innovations are commonplace. The current crop of 18-year-olds, after all, were 8 when Google was founded by two students at Stanford; Mark Zuckerberg founded Facebook in 2004 while he was at Harvard and they were entering high school. Having “grown up digital” (to borrow the title of Don Tapscott’s recent book on the Net Generation), they are impatient to get on with life.

“They’re great collaborators, with friends, online, at work,” Mr. Tapscott wrote. “They thrive on speed. They love to innovate.

The article goes on to discuss the rise of innovation and entrepreneurship programs in academia—programs that number somewhere around 5,000 (compared to just 250 in 1985). These programs are giving students the tools they need to identify opportunities, collaborate, find funding, generate ideas, build business plans…the list goes on. All of these skills are important in the innovation process, and it’s exciting to see that they’re now being taught in an academic setting while students are pursuing their broader educations. 

There’s also an interesting feature on 23 student innovations, which covers the innovations of 23 young entrepreneurs with big ideas and even bigger plans for the future. Each of these ideas has the potential to become something big, which led me to wonder why established organizations aren’t taking these kinds of leaps in the marketplace. 

Large organizations have the funds, the people, and the knowledge to bring to bring new ideas to market; they even have armies of employees whose heads are packed with great ideas. Why can’t these organizations pull the trigger? Fear of risk? Bad economy? Bad excuses. 

Take a look at the article and some of the innovations coming out of academic entrepreneurship programs. Then think about how you can build that same level of energy and enthusiasm for innovation into your own organization. 

Read more at The New York Times.


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