April 8, 2011

Johnson launches Entrepreneurship and Innovation Institute

Cornell's Johnson School has launched the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Institute (EII) to act as a hub for entrepreneurial research, education and programmatic activities.

The institute will work with other entrepreneurship-related organizations, particularly Entrepreneurship@Cornell, to advance entrepreneurship research, connect students to a network of alumni mentors, and engage with entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and innovative corporate leaders.

"The institute is well positioned as it will take all the current programmatic offerings of Entrepreneurship@Johnson and expand upon them," said Zachary Shulman, Johnson senior lecturer of entrepreneurship and interim director of EII. As the institute's funding resources increase, EII will expand its course offerings, for example, in areas such as commercializing university technology, family business and international entrepreneurship. In the future we hope to sponsor both conferences on key entrepreneurial topics on campus and entrepreneurship courses for Johnson students in developing countries.

"Through this institute, Johnson can take entrepreneurship study and practice from good to great," said Shulman. "We want support for entrepreneurship to get bigger and better; to be able to fund more research, hold larger competitions and have greater alumni engagement. We want those who know us already to celebrate our strength and growth and for those who don't to open their eyes to Johnson as a hub for entrepreneurship and innovation research, knowledge, programs and collaboration."

EII encompasses a number of experiential learning programs, traditional course offerings, networking/mentoring opportunities and such focused club activities as a student run seed-stage venture capital fund (BR Ventures), commercial and strategic consulting to startup companies (BR Consulting), and business advising and legal services startup (BR Legal), said Shulman.

Through EII, "we will reach out to entrepreneurs and innovators throughout the world, providing them with the knowledge and training that will help them grow their businesses," said Wesley Sine, EII's academic director and a J. Thomas Clark Professor of Entrepreneurship and Personal Enterprise whose research focuses on entrepreneurship, technology commercialization and innovation in various contexts including developing countries. "Johnson needs to be on the cutting edge of knowledge about entrepreneurship and innovation, and we need to share that knowledge," says Sine. "EII will enable us to attract the best researchers in the world so we can become a hub of knowledge about innovation."

Sine envisions an entrepreneurship-based "thought leadership initiative" that will connect researchers with practitioners to analyze, critique and apply research at conferences and off-campus workshops. We intend to produce world-class research and share that knowledge with both academics and practitioners."

The institute has already hosted speakers to Johnson and, in January, Sine led a 10-day entrepreneurship course in Saudi Arabia (see the story online) to train a group of graduate students from the Around the world in local students start businesses, an example of the kinds of outreach efforts EII will engage in.