As donations from successful entrepreneurs poured in over the last 25 years, business schools had to determine the best use for the money. Chaired professorships in entrepreneurship sprouted so quickly that schools had a hard time finding candidates with sufficient academic accomplishment to fill them. Centers to promote entrepreneurship flourished. It became an accepted area for research. In the main professional society of management professors, the Entrepreneurship Division grew from a small, obscure group to one of the society’s most prominent.
All the while, debate continued on the question of whether entrepreneurship can be taught, with many arguing that it cannot. If that is true, then universities have spent millions for nothing.
I do not think it is true and want to offer just one example to illustrate. At Rensselaer, we have brilliant engineers and scientists, many of whom develop new materials and processes they believe have commercial potential. Some want to turn their inventions into commercial ventures. Most know little about business; their mindset and training have guided them in a very different direction. If they make their way to our Severino Center for Technological Entrepreneurship, we have faculty, staff, and experienced entrepreneurs who can educate them in the many dimensions they will need to address, from marketing and market research, to raising money to prototyping, and production or service delivery. They are learning how to become entrepreneurs.