Michael Clouser

The Academic Entrepreneur


Email:  michael dot clouser at gmail dot com

Some might ask me “why create 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” 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, non-profits / NGOs, and so forth – as well as technologies and the transfer of knowledge.

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. The society outside of the ivory tower, for the most part, 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.  Many of them also consult, act as expert witnesses, speak at paid events, and get paid to write articles. Today, academic entrepreneurs are creating new online courses and products in addition. Many are software entrepreneurs as well, and some are even mining cryptocurrencies.

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 start the PhD in entrepreneurship and pursue a career of researching, teaching, and starting companies.

We’ll explore a lot of topics surrounding academic entrepreneurship in this blog, including trying to answer the question of “what motivates the academic entrepreneur?”  It isn’t just about money, according to the research – what little of it has been done so far – suggests. Other motivations including a desire to transfer the knowledge built inside of the university to the outside world, and the desire to join a group of peers, or to one-up a peer or two as well.

Currently I am a PhD student  (actually a candidate) on leave from 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 seven 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)!

My background includes over 20 years of general business management and entrepreneurship experience, specifically in the internet, software and research spaces. In addition to the MSc earned from Edinburgh University, I’ve earned the MBA and BS degrees from Cornell University. During my MBA years at Cornell I was the CEO of a conglomerate of student-run firms and an incubator; as an undergraduate, I founded and grew a marketing company that put me through university.

Currently I am launching a new business and exploring opportunities in the realm of academic entrepreneurship myself. Stay tuned to learn more.

My full, albeit long version (you are thus warned), CV can be found below.


2006-present UNIVERSITY OF EDINBURGH PhD Edinburgh, Scotland

Business School, Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)  Candidate – on leave

-Entrepreneurship and Innovation Specialization. New Venture Creation from Research Institutions

-Researched public and university policy; research policy;  supply of entrepreneurial risk capital; triple helix configurations; comparable models of univeristy innovation, technology transfer, commercialisation and new venture creation; university collaborations for innovation; entrepreneurship education and pedagogy

-Paid for my own education through instructing PT, consulting, and receiving the Edinburgh-Stanford Link Studentship through the School of Informatics

(currently on leave of absence – start-up endeavors)

2004-2006 UNIVERSITY OF EDINBURGH MSc Edinburgh, Scotland

Business School, Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Masters of Science (MSc)

-Co-founder of the Edinburgh Entrepreneurship Club and Edinburgh Entrepreneur Meetup Group

-Organized academic workshops on venture capital research, public and university policy

-Member of Triple Helix Association and elearning committee head

-Paid for my education by instructing technology entrepreneruship PT, consulting, and receiving the Edinburgh-Stanford Link Studentship from the School of Informatics


Johnson Graduate School of Management, Masters of Business Administration, (MBA) 1999

-President of Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital Club, increased membership 100%

-CEO Fellowship, Student Agencies, Incorporated, worked full time and earned MBA in three years

-Hickey-Freeman business operator for Cornell territory. Sold suits to MBAs and JDs.

-Research Assistant for entrepreneurship and private equity, Professor David BenDaniel, Ph.D.

-Founder, CEO Research, competitive intelligence research firm run by MBA students

-Wrote case study on Chuck Feeney, Hotel BS ’56, Cornellian, Entrepreneur, Philanthropist.

-Paid for my education by working FT and receiving the Student Agencies, Inc. fellowship from the Johnson School


School of Hotel and Restaurant Administration, Bachelor of Science (BS), 1990

-Hospitality entrepreneurship and technology focus

-Member of the Hotel Sales and Marketing International (HSMAI) club

-Phi Gamma Delta (Fiji) Social Chairman

-Started and grew own student venture “Campus Marketing” and sold business upon graduating

Instructing Experience:

2012-              ROYAL ROADS UNIVERSITY        Victoria, BC, Canada

Associate Faculty

-Entrepreneurship capstone course (2 summers) and the Entrepreneurial Experience Course (online)

2004-2011 UNIVERSITY OF EDINBURGH Edinburgh, Scotland


-Informatics Entrepreneurship and The Digital Marketplace (Edinburgh-Stanford Link sponsored course)

Students are masters-level students in computer science and digital design, respectively

2003-2004 LYNN UNIVERSITY Boca Raton, FL, USA

Visiting Professor

-Hospitality Entrepreneurship, Hotel Management and Operations, Leadership, Club Management, Turf Management, and Customer Service Strategy in the Hospitality Industry

July 2002 – present eCORNELL – Hospitality elearning Program Ithaca, NY, USA

Hospitality Online Distance Learning Instructor

-Teach Finance, Accounting, Human Resources, Marketing, Food and Beverage, Revenue Management

Real Estate Finance in the Hospitality Industry, and Hospitality Asset Management


Hospitality Instructor

-“Restaurant Start-up Basics”. Self-created course covering the basics of restaurant management

1997 – 1999 CORNELL UNIVERSITY Ithaca, NY, USA

Johnson Graduate School of Management, Teaching Assistant

-Entrepreneurship and Enterprise, Professor David BenDaniel, Ph.D.


School of Hotel Administration, Teaching Assistant

-Situational Leadership, Visiting Professor Ken Blanchard, Ph.D

Workshops and Short Courses:

2010 Girlgeeks Stirling, UK

Raising finance for start-up companies – 2 day workshop for technology start-ups

2010 Emirates Hospitality Academy Dubai, UAE

Hospitality Entrepreneurship – 1 month hands-on course for MSc students

2009 University of Trento Trento, Italy

Entrepreneurship for Researchers – 1 day workshop for PhD students

2009 University American College Skopje Skopje, Macedonia

Internet Entrepreneurship – 2 week hands-on course for MBA students

2009 Channel 4i Glasgow, Scotland

Strategy for Silicon Valley Visit – 1 day workshop for technology entrepreneurs

2008 University of OsloOslo, Norway

Entrepreneurship for researchers – 1 day workshop for PhD students and research staff

Conferences Organized:

2010 Stanford’s Roundtable on Entrepreneurship Education Edinburgh, Scotland

Organized this conference with Stanford University sponsored by Accel Ventures

Research Interests:

  • • The Triple Helix of Innovation:  University-Government-Industry Interaction
    • o International University Collaboration for Innovation
    • o Incubation, University and Student Venture Capital Financing Structures
    • • New Venture Creation from Research Institutions
    • • The Entrepreneurial University and the Third Role of the University
    • • Entrepreneurship and Public Policy
    • • Entrepreneurial Finance and Public Policy
    • • Incubation, especially of science-led ventures
    • • Bootstrapping Strategies for Entrepreneurial Ventures
    • • International Entrepreneurship, especially “born global” ventures
    • • European Entrepreneurship Policy and the Lisbon Agenda


2009 International Entrepreneurship Forum Istanbul, Turkey

Lessons from a Transatlantic Triple Helix 

(runner-up for best paper)

2009 Journal of International Entrepreneurship Article

Entrepreneurial networks: A Triple Helix approach for brokering human and social capital

2007 Frontiers of Entrepreneurship Research Madrid, Spain Babson Entrepreneurship Research Conference

Triple Helix Power Play in the Sunshine State

Lectures and Talks of Note:

2014   University of Victoria    Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

Big Scotland and Wee Canada:  The Potential of Imagination Economies

2013   Summit of Leaders Conference, Royal Roads University   Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

Trends in International Venture Capital Supply and Investment

2013  Geeks on a Plane (500 Startups)    Beuenos Aires, Argentina

The History of the Venture Capital Industry in the USA and its Implications for Latin America

2012 University of Central Florida in Orlando, USA

 The History of Venture Capital and the University’s Role in its Formation 

2011 Indian Institutes of Technology and University of Edinburgh in India Mumbai, India

Starting and Financing Cleantech Ventures: Challenges and Issues

2010 Stanford’s Roundtable on Entrepreneurship Education Edinburgh, Scotland

Starting and Operating a Student Venture Capital Fund

Design and Entrepreneurship

2010 Edinburgh Entrepreneurship Club Edinburgh, Scotland

Building a Silicon Valleyesque Economy in the Middle East: Dubai Internet City 10 years On

2010 Triple Helix Madrid Madrid, Spain

Transatlantic Triple Helix and a New Model for Born Global Venture Formation

2010 Edinburgh Entrepreneurship Club Edinburgh, Scotland

The Israeli Model of Technology Innovation and Leadership

2009 International Entrepreneurship Forum Istanbul, Turkey

Expanded Trilateral University Collaboration for Born Global Ventures

2009 Edinburgh Entrepreneurship Club Edinburgh, Scotland

Opportunity Landscapes in a Down Economy

2009 Channel 4i Glasgow, Scotland

Navigating Silicon Valley

2009 University of Trento Trento, Italy

Opportunity Discovery and Assessment for Researchers

2008 Edinburgh Entrepreneurship Club Edinburgh, Scotland

Trials and Tribulations of an eLearning spinout

2007 Scottish Universities Physics Alliance Edinburgh, Scotland

The Edinburgh-Stanford Link’s Model of Transatlantic Collabortion

2005 Economics Society of Edinburgh Edinburgh, Scotland

Entrepreneurship and Economic Growth

2004 Young Company Finance Stirling, Scotland

Financing Young Companies: A US Perspective

Doctoral Seminars:

2009 International Entrepreneurship Forum Istanbul, Turkey

Doctoral programme of one day


Doctoral prorgamme of five days


Doctoral programme of two days

Work Experience:

2004-present        Consultant to universities on venture capital funds, incubation, acceleration

2013-present    Student Venture Capital Fund     Palo Alto, Vancouver, Victoria

Raising capital for a student venture capital fund start-up

Focus of fund is on early stage student technology ventures across the globe

2013-present   Invoke    Vancouver, BC, Canada  

Venture Consultant

Building 2nd stage acceleration business to serve technology start-ups worldwide

2012-2013    University of Central Florida  Orlando, Florida

Academic Entrepreneur (Consultancy role)

Planned for a University venture capital fund spinout to be capitalized in the $100 to $200 million range

Focused on technology start-ups in the State of Florida

Gathered partnership interest

Built database of prospective insttutional investors and surveyed these suppliers

 2004-2011       Edinburgh-Stanford Link               Edinburgh, Scotland

Associate and Director of Technology Entrepreneurship Education

-Lead the creation, development, and execution of an entrepreneurship course for MSc informatics students, an entrepreneurship course on internet startups for MSc digital design students, and an outreach e-learning entrepreneurship course series

-Conceived and co-founded Entrepedia.org, the “Entrepreneurship Wiki”

-Created, developed and led the technology entrepreneurship online series TechEnt.org

-Create and deliver outreach seminars and workshops featuring Silicon Valley venture capitalists

-Place Masters-level research students with emerging partner firms to add value in new product development

-Oversaw entrepreneurship-in-residence programme for select newly graduated MScs

-Served as academic host for entrepreneurship in a university pre-incubation scheme

-Explored international university collaborations with various leading US and Indian Universities

-Organized the Stanford Roundtable on Entrepreneurship Education for Europe 2010 (held in Ednburgh)

2002 – 2004         eCORNELL – Hospitality elearning Program Ithaca, NY, USA

Hospitality Distance Learning Instructor and Strategic Marketing Associate

-Teach Finance, Accounting, Human Resources, Marketing, Food and Beverage, Revenue Management

-Assist in formulation of marketing strategy for the hospitality elearning segments

-Market and sell elearning packages to hospitality companies

-Act as liaison between eCornell’s hospitality elearning program and the School of Hotel Administration

-Participate in the development of content and future products to serve the hospitality industry

2000–2004 DOT EDU VENTURES Palo Alto, CA, USA Associate

-Support general partners of a boutique venture capital firm, which invests in early stage companies that are focused on building disruptive technologies and are formed by faculty and graduate students from leading research universities. Fund is affiliated with Stanford University and has ties to ventures such as Google

-Interface with venture capital community, especially “Sand Hill Road”, and other quality value-added partners for portfolio companies, deal flow and due diligence assistance.

-Form investment syndications to finance technology startups at the early and follow-on stages

-Conduct due diligence on potential investments, including competitive positioning assessments.

-Evaluate markets, management teams and strategies. Assist in investment decision.

-Provide hands-on assistance to growing companies as needed

-Assist portfolio companies in strategizing for future financing rounds, make relevant introductions

-Manage investor relations, including those with existing and potential limited partners

-Manage web site development effort, including aggregation of relevant content

-Oversee implementation of an intranet to provide information and resources to portfolio companies

2000-2004 MARKET DILIGENCE Palo Alto, CA

Co-founder and Director

-Started and operated small market research firm that serviced angel and venture capital investors

-Completed 10 projects over five years including one for a Chilean conglomerate

1999 – 2000 iLODGING, Inc. Palo Alto, CA

Co-founder, interim CEO and COO.

-Researched and verified business concept and competitive opportunity over period of seven months

-Planned business including marketing, public relations, business development, and financial aspects

-Recruited management and technical team, consultants, advisory board, pilot partners -Acted as product manager in developing two sites with e-commerce capabilities and original content

-Built elearning courses in hospitality finance as a benefit for members of iloding on the CourseInfo website

-Raised angel financing amounting to $500K; pitched business to top tier venture capitalists


Chief Executive Officer

-Oversaw conglomerate / incubator of fourteen student-run service and technology businesses

-Oversaw early stage venture fund for student /faculty startups; reviewed technology transfer opportunities

-Incubated six start-up technology companies, three of which succeeded in the marketplace

-Assisted the incubated team of CourseInfo (now Blackboard) with strategy and fundraising in early stages

-Marketed commercial real estate spaces, negotiated and executed six commercial leases

-Secured mortgage and other financing; restructured balance sheet, guided CFO

-Oversaw strategic acquisitions, startups, and divestments, set strategic direction of company

-Budgeted and oversaw capital improvements, renovations, and technological investments

-Acquired two companies; divested two companies for strategic and profitability purposes

-Successfully balanced demands of full-time work and academics, finished Executive MBA in three years

1997-1999 CEO RESEARCH Ithaca, NY, USA

Founder and Director

-Started small competitive intelligence research firm which served large technology firms

-Subcontracted and managed MBA students for research, analysis and report writing

1994-1996 NEW ERA STRATEGIES, INC Orlando, FL, USA

Founder, Chief Executive Officer, and President

-Started Internet companies; researched market, developed strategic alliances and partnerships

-Planned business, recruited co-founder, management team, network of consultants, sold business


 Turnaround Hotel General Manager

-Repositioned hotels: Increased revenues 50% and NOI 100% on average, for turnaround investment fund

-Managed franchised hotels under brands of Hampton Inn, Residence Inn by Marriot, and Days Inn

Advisory: Private equity fund-of-funds, two technology ventures, and a research hospital start-up

Consultancies: Various to governmental bodies, companies and universities. Including eLearning venture creation and spinouts

Memberships: National Business Incubation Association, Edinburgh Entrepreneurship Club (co-founder), Entrepreneurship and Public Policy Society (co-founder), Cornell Hotel Society, Triple Helix Association – Committee Chair for the eLearning Group

Directorships: Member of the Board of Directors in two high growth technology ventures

Personal: -Sporting activities: Ice hockey, baseball, handball, racquetball, squash, golf and hillwalking.

-Enjoy: Travel, cartography, antique maps, historic inns, culinary arts, shinty and hurling

-Languages:  English (native); Spanish and Italian.  Born:  Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA

-Citizen of the United States of America; Resident of the United Kingdom for 8 years; currently living in Canada

  1. #1 by Katherine McKibbin on February 9, 2017 - 01:44

    I understand that you may have put my grandmother’s name (Susan Olivia Poole, nee Davis) forward for consideration to be put on a Canadian banknote. If so, I would like to thank you. It’s an honour that she made the first shortlist.

    • #2 by academicentrepreneur on February 9, 2017 - 18:32

      Yes I did. It was my honor. I’m glad to hear she made the shortlist, I did not know that but if I can find the press I can do a quick blog post on it.

  2. #3 by Katherine McKibbin on February 11, 2017 - 15:27

    I went to the Bank of Canada website and searched her name and the list of names, 460 in all, on the first shortlist came up. How did you learn about her? Just curious. Given the current climate regarding g the misappropriation of Indigenous traditions, I would like to emphasize that she was a member of the Chippawa Tribe of Minnesota and always said that her version of the jumper came from their traditions.

  3. #4 by Katherine McKibbin on February 11, 2017 - 16:50

    FYI that may be of interest to you or other. When Gramma was elderly and declining into dementia, she was taken advantage of and signed away her rights to royalties so she never received a cent from the huge success that the Jolly Jumper became. She died in relative poverty.

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