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Engines of Innovation

Engines of Innovation: The Entrepreneurial University in the Twenty-First Century

Holden Thorp
Buck Goldstein
Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 184
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  • Book Info
    Engines of Innovation
    Book Description:

    InEngines of Innovation, Holden Thorp and Buck Goldstein make the case for the pivotal role of research universities as agents of societal change. They argue that universities must use their vast intellectual and financial resources to confront global challenges such as climate change, extreme poverty, childhood diseases, and an impending worldwide shortage of clean water.Combining their own experiences cultivating an entrepreneurial mindset within one of the nation's elite public universities with detailed descriptions of the approaches taken by others, Thorp and Goldstein provide not only an urgent call to action but also a practical guide for our nation's leading institutions to become major players in solving the world's biggest problems. The result is a provocative and thoughtful beginning to an important conversation among educators, their supporters and trustees, policymakers, and the public at large as to how the American research university can best meet its societal responsibilities.All royalties from this book have been assigned by the authors to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to support innovation and entrepreneurship.

    eISBN: 978-1-4696-0636-1
    Subjects: Education, Business

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Introdcution
    (pp. 1-8)

    We are not the first authors to be halfway through writing a book when the world changed. True, in the fall of 2008, Newtonian laws were not repealed (that took place during the Internet bubble), nor was a conclusive proof of Einstein’s general theory of relativity advanced. Still, the world experienced the greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression with trillions of dollars of wealth wiped out in a matter of weeks and the viability of a highly complex and interdependent global financial system severely tested. Of course, the airwaves and cyberspace were filled with commentary on the causes of...

  4. 1 The Entrepreneurial Opportunity
    (pp. 9-21)

    Events have conspired to place our great universities in an either enviable or terrifying position, depending on your point of view. They are collectively among the most affluent institutions in our society.¹ They are populated with the best minds in the world and have created a culture that encourages new knowledge and puts it to practical use. But such a wealth of resources comes with an imposing responsibility. Donors, grant makers, and the public at large expect big things from what can reasonably be characterized as one of the crown jewels of our society. Having accumulated such significant resources in...

  5. 2 Entrepreneurial Science
    (pp. 22-37)

    At even the most traditional research universities, the science buildings stand out. They are bigger, newer, and bristling with technology. These modern temples are often designed to blend modestly with older campus architecture to betray their purpose with complex air-handling systems and satellite dishes crowding the roof. Although the campus tour guide may describe these buildings as chemistry or biology departments, and the directory on the first floor may list a department chair or the location of administrative offices, no simple organizational chart can describe the complex set of relationships that drive and finance a top-flight department in the physical...

  6. 3 Enterprise Creation
    (pp. 38-52)

    Enter the office of a university president and you see the portrait of the founder, perhaps a framed degree, sports mementos, and some photographs of the current occupant with a Nobel Prize winner or U.S. president. In addition to a large desk and a flat-screen computer terminal, there are several comfortable sofas covered in the school colors with drapes to match. The walls are lined with bookshelves filled with enticing titles from a variety of disciplines, and everything is arranged neatly, including the files on the mahogany desk. No matter how many of these offices you enter or how hard...

  7. 4 Social Entrepreneurship
    (pp. 53-67)

    Social entrepreneurship is one of the most powerful and important ideas to emerge in our society in recent years, and it is having a dramatic impact on every major university. A decade ago, the term was known only to a few theoreticians and isolated groups of enlightened idealists; just over five years ago an article in theNew York Timesdescribing the new field was considered to be groundbreaking.¹ Today, a Google search of the term results in 1.3 million hits, and tens of thousands of nongovernmental organizations now characterize themselves or their founders as “social entrepreneurs.” Influential commentators characterize...

  8. 5 Multidisciplinary Centers
    (pp. 68-84)

    Making connections, encouraging conversations, and collaborating are essential elements of entrepreneurship, and, increasingly, those activities have become critical to the work of a research university in addressing the grand challenges facing the world. The good news is that there is seldom a shortage of proposals for the establishment of a multidisciplinary center or some other configuration that will readjust the traditional disciplines. The bad news is that many of these proposals are incomplete at best and wrongheaded at worst, and more often than not lack a plan for sustainability. The challenge for the entrepreneurial thinker is to harness what is...

  9. 6 Leadership
    (pp. 85-96)

    As we’ve said, innovation begins with entrepreneurial thinking, and more often than not such thinking starts with an individual and not a committee or task force. For universities to become the engines of innovation we envision, a unique brand of leadership is required, and it starts at the top. Judith Rodin, who served as the president of the University of Pennsylvania for many years, put it best: “We need to role model . . . those attributes we want faculty to emulate and create a climate that allows entrepreneurship and innovation to flourish.”¹

    In interviewing academic leaders who embrace an...

  10. 7 Academic Roles
    (pp. 97-105)

    In a nation in which many work into their late sixties and a newly minted Ph.D. is usually close to thirty, academics can expect a forty-year career. Traditionally, they know what to expect from the outset: a career of research and teaching, publishing in academic journals and books, writing grant proposals, and presenting papers at academic gatherings. These activities are often supplemented by service on departmental and university-wide committees and other administrative duties. In a relatively few cases, an academic goes into administration because the challenges are appealing or the pay is better, but most return to the academic life...

  11. 8 Culture and Structure
    (pp. 106-117)

    Inside academia, it’s hard to talk about the university’s impact on the world’s great problems without getting immersed in a conversation about faculty rewards and university structure. Discussions about enterprise creation or entrepreneurship in the university can quickly become debates over whether faculty should be rewarded with promotions and tenure for securing patents and creating businesses. Discussions of institutional innovation and how to attack big problems often bring up questions about how the university ought to be organized, whether the new program ought to report to a dean or the provost, or if the leader should be a center director...

  12. 9 Teaching Entrepreneurship
    (pp. 118-132)

    We are often met with skepticism, especially from entrepreneurs, when we tell people that we teach entrepreneurship in a university. Many entrepreneurs contend that “entrepreneurs are born and not made” and that entrepreneurship is not teachable. Our first response to this skepticism begins with the ideas of Peter Drucker. He was convinced that entrepreneurship is “not a personality trait,” though people who need certainty are unlikely to be good entrepreneurs. Instead, Drucker asserts that entrepreneurship is based on concept and theory and can be taught. In fact, he believes the fundamental reason entrepreneurship is so risky is that “so few...

  13. 10 Accountability
    (pp. 133-140)

    The call comes from the chairman of the board, the CEO of the company, or the biggest contributor to a project. The question is always the same: “How are we doing?” At times in our careers we had a simple response. We pulled up a “dashboard” or set of metrics that were updated daily or weekly and launched into an answer. “Revenues yesterday were $20,000 and averaged $17,000 over the last week. We have $500,000 in the bank and we should be generating cash in three months. We made a key new hire and the acquisition we have been working...

  14. 11 The New Donors and University Development
    (pp. 141-150)

    A new breed of donors, both large and small, and the philanthropic institutions they have created and influence are exactly the constituency that is most attracted to our vision of the university as an engine of innovation, attacking the world’s biggest problems with an entrepreneurial mindset. To the extent universities choose to move toward this vision these “new donors” should be willing supporters. It is unlikely, however, that universities can count on them to endow the status quo. It is with a sense of urgency that the new donors seek novel, valuable, high-impact solutions.

    So who are the new donors...

  15. Conclusion
    (pp. 151-154)

    The philosopher Alfred North Whitehead said, “Universities create the future”; and Drew Gilpin Faust, president of Harvard, explained that they do so “in two fundamental ways: by educating those to whom the future belongs, and by generating the ideas and discoveries that can transform the present and build a better world.”¹ Despite unprecedented challenges we remain enthusiastic about the role of research universities at this moment in history—perhaps because as entrepreneurs we habitually see opportunity when confronted with adversity.

    The challenges are real, and daunting. On average, university endowments are 30 percent smaller than they were at the beginning...

  16. NOTES
    (pp. 155-160)
    (pp. 161-162)
  18. INDEX
    (pp. 163-170)