Small College is Earth’s Social Entrepreneur

A colleague and I have been fleshing out a concept paper for a small college to take the lead in being a social entrepreneur college. This is the start…

Small College will be Earth’s Social Entrepreneur. Faculty, staff, and students will internalize and then project the imperative to produce transformational benefits in our community, nation, and humanity, writ large. In pursuit of this vision, Small College will become a flagship among the world’s most respected academic intuitions, admitting only the best-qualified applicants and recruiting elite faculty who passionately share the college’s vision.

Small College will focus on revolutionary solutions to the most pressing topics on the horizon. Initially, we will capitalize on the present assets at Small College: alternative energy and organic agri- and aqua-culture. In the coming years, we will expand our focus to develop novel entrepreneurial solutions in global diplomacy and caring for an aging worldwide population, as we unpack Small College’s focus also on: water, food, energy, health, governance, and education. Faculty, students, and administration will work together to reorient Small College to provide a decidedly non-traditional and foundational liberal arts education to catalyze collaborative, entrepreneurial, and design thinking based solutions for novel, insightful, and innovative solutions that will improve Earth’s future locally, nationally, and internationally.

The curriculum will focus on the knowledge of what to know, how to develop, and then how to implement evidence-based policy, public affairs, applied research, and advanced technologies. The curriculum will be concretized by the fostering of business start-ups that bring the learning experience into personal, professional, and social relationships. Small College will operate as an entrepreneurial liberal arts research and commercialization college. By identifying and acting as such, Small College will attract faculty, students, and staff that passionately transition their education into a vocation that thrives in the pursuit positive change. Small College will be an unequaled incubator that unlocks the imagination of the world’s best and brightest students in a marriage – not a simple colocation – of scientific, social, artistic, and humanitarian. The Small College of the future will be a leader in policy, industry, and innovation that is passionately supported by the faculty, staff, students and surrounding academic and industry communities.

Implementation of the Small College of the future requires a deep and unsurpassed cooperation among industry, government, and academia. This will be implemented via the following steps. First, like a traditional college, Small College will charge tuition, room, and board. However, in order to fulfill the promise of the transition of knowledge into solutions, Small College will assess a one-time fee of $20,000 for entering students. This fee will seed and sustain a Innovation Fund of venture capital from which graduates can draw to implement solutions to Earth’s most pressing problems. This fee will be collected from the 500 students (125 per year) such that the first accredited graduating class will have a fund of $10 million from which they can draw to seed businesses that will implement and sustain innovation. The value of the Innovation Fund can be developed further but contributions from the faculty and staff. The Innovation Fund benefits the Small College community in multiple ways. First, the graduates gain access to the funds to support the development of their startups. Second, students, faculty, and staff who contributed to the Innovation Fund own shares that gain value with the entrepreneurial successes of Small College. Finally, Small College owns a share of the fund that will provide a revenue stream for the continuing investments in personnel, infrastructure, and, most importantly, facilities necessary to maintain and expand the vision and mission at Small College.

To be continued….

Students Central to Innovation

Henry Etzkowitz initiated the concept of the Triple Helix partnership in the 1990s, understanding the university’s forte in knowledge production could result in entrepreneurial output. The concept is that “innovation and economic development lies in a more prominent role for the university in partnering with industry and government to generate new institutional and social formats for the production, transfer and application of knowledge.” In this scenario: 1) university acts like an entrepreneur, focusing on commercialization of their research; 2) industry acts like a university, partnering on research development, loosening their protective, private sector boundaries; and 3) government becomes the venture capitalist, providing an infusion of financial resources into the equation. It is an ideal ecosystem in which the university drives innovation, and has the established relationships and financial backing to bring their research to life.

Do you know why Etzkowitz pronounced the university is more innovative than any type of organization that produces knowledge? Answer: pipeline of students. Unlike any other business, fresh talent is constantly flowing into the university system, contributing new ideas, diverse perspectives, and, therefore, unlimited creativity. Southwest Ohio is fortunate with over 20 colleges and universities and more than 120,000 students. Also, we have the perfect makings for the Triple Helix partnership: 1) strong higher education cluster; 2) strong government presence with WPAFB; and 3) major business interested in technological innovation. Most importantly, we have the curricular ability to marrying the sciences, arts, and humanities with the passion of our college and university students–which is truly the key to innovation.