David Miller
by David Miller
Wed Aug 6th 2008 at 8:51am UTC

Does Your Campus Drive Away Entrepreneurs?

We often talk about the importance of universities to growth in the Creative Economy. Usually we measure scientists, patents, and other similar variables. But we also need to pay attention to the entrepreneurial culture of a college or university.

How welcoming and supportive is the campus of ‘campus entrepreneurs’ (whether they are undergrads or profs)? Saxenian really highlights this topic at a regional level in her work Regional Advantage, but it is just as important at the campus/university level.

An interesting post by Simona Covel at the WSJ’s Independent Street Blog looks at what Yale is trying to do to stop the exodus of startups that leave Yale’s campus and head for Silicon Valley.

In order to fight this high-tech flight, Yale created the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute a few years ago to provide more support and increase retention of high-growth firms. From Covel’s post:

So far, says YEI director James Boyle, it’s working — at least a little bit. Two of last summer’s crop of six start-ups remain in New Haven. Just as important, Mr. Boyle says, is that the program leaves students and potential students with the impression that Yale is an incubator for student-run businesses, just like Stanford or MIT.

“It has been pivotal in demonstrating to the student body that you can start high-tech companies at Yale — a space where Yale usually isn’t known,” he says.

Does your campus put out the welcome mat for entrepreneurs? Does the administration and faculty support entrepreneurs? Have local and regional policy makers gotten involved?

One Response to “Does Your Campus Drive Away Entrepreneurs?”

  1. Zoe B Says:

    Our university is trying to encourage an entrepreneurial culture. The business school has courses in entrepreneurship for undergraduate, graduate and continuing students. They have built a facility intended to be an incubator for high-tech businesses, and now have some tenants who might hit it big. There even is a support service and networking space for students who want to pursue business ideas while still in college (notably, founded and run by student entrepreneurs). We also have one or two excellent examples of spin-off corporations that have chosen to remain in town and have had success luring new graduates to stay in town. That said, we still have the limitations of a small town. The more specialized your profession (or that of your spouse). the less likely you are to find jobs that suit both of you. If you want big-city nightlife, we can’t supply it. If you want to see world-class art you have to get out of town. The university provides graduate students with opportunities for a social life, but young professionals have a harder time meeting potential mates. And socially we still are pretty conservative: same-sex couples do not feel comfortable holding hands in public. That said, we are successful in attracting young folks who want to live in a small town with a healthy economy. Or who want to return here when their kids reach school age.