Motivations for this Blog
by Author Michael Clouser
Some might ask me “why do a blog about academic entrepreneurship”?
I have various motivations. First and foremost, I don’t believe that “academic entrepreneurs” (we’ll discuss the definition later) get enough credit or are recognized for their efforts and contributions. They are especially important in the “knowledge economy” or the “digital economy” or the “creative economy” or call it what you will, as catalysts and conduits between the knowledge base, the creative base, and society. The products of their efforts are innovative start-up companies and social organizations — spinoffs, start-ups, and so forth.
Academic entrepreneurs are actually appreciated by a very small portion of the population. Unfortunately they are often not very appreciated by their host universities or higher education institutions. Why not? Well, they do too much “on the side” or don’t have the publishing results. Or do have the publishing results but make too much money. Or students like them too much, or they are too into teaching. Or they are too creative. Or don’t fit in with the crowd. And the list goes on. We’ll talk later about revisiting the whole academic review and reward process in higher education institutions. Society doesn’t appreciate them either.
“academic entrepreneur? isn’t that an oxymoron”? I hear this all the time.
The truth is that academics have always been quite entrepreneurial. Take publishing books, for instance. This is a nice mini-business in and of itself that academics have pursued for years. Society, especially that in the UK and US, doesn’t often appreciate academic entrepreneurship as it is enchanted by the myth of the “solo hero” entrepreneur that is so widely embraced by the mainstream media. However, entrepreneurship is a team sport, and a successful new venture requires collaboration and thought, and many people to help it get off the ground.
Another motivation for starting this blog, and this effort towards academic entrepreneurship, is in memory of the late Dr. Rajeev Motwani. Wikipedia has an entry here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rajeev_Motwani. This blog will serve not only as a tribute to him, but all who share his spirit, including other academic entrepreneurs. Many of us are not near as successful as Rajeev, but carry on trying anyway.
Rajeev was the quissential academic entrepreneur, and a real inspiration not only to me but to many that know him. I’ll be blogging about him more, including some of the activities that he was involved with, and what I learned from him. Rajeev was my “boss” if you will at Dot Edu Ventures http://www.doteduventures.com a seed-stage venture capital fund that he co-founded in 2000. I was the Associate there and had the privilage of working with Rajeev on an almost daily basis for years from our base in downtown Palo Alto. Rajeev inspired me to return to get a PhD in entrepreneurship and pursue a career of researching, teaching, and starting companies.
Currently I am a PhD student (actually a candidate) at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland’s Capital City. My research interest is entrepreneurship and innovation, and, in particular, new venture creation from the research institution. I have been “on the ground” now in Edinburgh as either a MSc or PhD student for five years, since 2004. Through my field study I’ve been able to observe and participate in the process of academic entrepreneurship. I think this blog will help me not only to work through some of my ideas, and test some theories of others, but also disseminate my findings to the larger world. Also, this blog is a great procrastination tool (like I need another one) but at least is somewhat on-target if you will.
I’m based at the University of Edinburgh Business School http://www.business-school.ed.ac.uk/ in Edinburgh, Scotland. In particular I’m based in the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Cluster http://www.business-school.ed.ac.uk/research/clusters/entrepreneur-innovation and am affiliated with the Centre for Entrepreneurship Research at the University of Edinburgh, which was founded in 2002. http://www.business-school.ed.ac.uk/research/centres/entrepreneurship-research