China Rising as Higher Education Power

Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield, Keith Burnett, writes in the Times Higher Education that China will take a dominant position in higher education. He appears to be making this statement based on pure size, scale, holding now place for academic practices and campus norms in national systems of higher education. He makes valid points in some cases (china is now the 4th most popular destination for overseas students!).

From Burnett in the Times Higher Education,

If you think of higher education as a global luxury good (as I have heard it described), then you can easily grasp why Chinese families buy a big chunk of the very finest higher education “product”: degrees from UK institutions. And let’s be honest, that demand has been the salvation of many UK universities’ financial bottom lines.

But when you look at the better and fancier options now coming out of China – in everything from next-generation transport to technology – you will see that there are fewer and fewer things they cannot make. This should make us all tremble.

It tells us that our higher education brands will have more and more competition in the years ahead, as China itself sets targets to become a destination for students from across the Belt and Road and beyond.

The UK might have Harry Potter, Downton Abbey and Sherlock on our side, but as public investment in research and teaching falls while China’s rises, our edge can’t last for ever. China, for the record, is now the fourth most popular destination for students studying overseas.

Should US higher education leaders be worried? — they, too, have relied on Chinese students — from PhDs to undergrads (a more recent trend!)… Lets not forget, one of the reasons entrepreneurs have succeeded on campus is because higher education itself is a massive marketplace (from food and fun to books, housing and media products!).

Korean University at Consumer Electronics Show

While perusing through the Consumer Electronics Show website I noticed a University Innovations section for exhibitors, from there I found a list of featured innovators — assuming that means they paid extra for marketing dollars. A few of the featured include, Case Western University (with a heavy presence), the University of Nevada Las Vegas (the Shark and Guy Fieri?), and Hanyang University, based in Seoul.  Their listing states they are focused on 5 product categories (Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality, Gaming, Safety and Security Products, Sensors, and Wearables)..

Some more about Hanyang University from Wikipedia. It appears that its an ‘older’ South Korean private university that focuses on engineering and practical education — ranked 30 in Asia on the QS rankings.

Is attending CES a good idea for a major research university? Clearly the South Korean Government sees university spinouts as good policy and has for nearly 10 years. Will have to watch for Hanyang and other Korean universities to see if this government led policy has worked for society, students and the achievement of university missions.

For my research and understanding of campus innovation ecosystems check out this recent paper on SSRN: The Campus as Entrepreneurial Ecosystem: The University of Chicago.

Shark Kevin O’Leary Visits Harvard Business School

Kevin O’Leary of Shark Tank visits Harvard Business School and offers a few nuggets of truth. Kevin also listens to pitches from some of the student founders. While Kevin recognizes the advantages of launching at Harvard University, he does not realize how much schools like George Mason University, University of Chicago and others are doing to provide real opportunities to experience entrepreneurship and innovation on campus — now.

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Universities are our Entrepreneurial Ecosystems

Everyone is looking for them. We have them already… They function pretty well. My recent paper: The Campus as Entrepreneurial Ecosystem. From the abstract:

One question that immediately comes to mind when studying ecosystem performance is what the proper unit of analysis is: the country, the state, the city, the region, or something smaller, like an incubator or accelerator? This paper suggests that the open, innovative American frontier that closed at the end of the 20th century has reemerged in the entrepreneurial economy on the U.S. campus. The contemporary campus entrepreneurial ecosystem offers the characteristics of Turner’s frontier: available assets, liberty and diversity while creating opportunity, and fostering entrepreneurship and innovation. A case study of the University of Chicago explores governance of the campus as an entrepreneurial ecosystem and the output produced by that campus ecosystem.

GWU Grad Student Launches Food Startup

As my research on student startups highlights, food ventures are popular. A recent George Washington University grad student has launched a social venture (Halona Foods) to get more value out of ‘ugly’ produce.

From DC Inno:

As a grad student at George Washington University, Stephanie Westhelle committed her academic life to studying sustainable development. That’s how she found herself researching and visiting small farms around the area.

“It was disheartening to see how many thousands and thousands of pounds of produce are left behind,” she said. “I think the one that was the most disheartening and really made me move forward with my idea was a small farm in Maryland that had lost about 80,000 pounds of apples due to some bruising that happened because of a hail storm… I came up with the idea to start making apple crisps from [them].”

Westhelle is the co-founder and CEO of Halona Foods, which she founded just a little over a year ago. She works with micro-scale farms (small, typically family-owned farms that usually bring in under $1 million in sales annually) to give new life to produce that would normally be considered waste. She and her team buy the irregularly-shaped, bruised or otherwise hard-to-sell fruits and veggies and turn them into snacks, like zucchini chips or apple crisps.

Halona Foods is not the first DC based food startup created by students to try to bring more efficiency to the use of farmed produce. Georgetown’s Misfit Juicery has had a nice run so far — recently being selected to join Chobani’s food accelerator.

George Mason Bees / Social Entrepreneurship

As part of my job I work with innovators from across society and the economy. People working on solving problems big and small.

I’ve been fortunate to work with the Mason Honey Bee Initiative (HBI) for a few years (helping them complete a crowdfunding campaign in 2013) and six months ago the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the George Mason School of Business, partnered with the College of Science and took over the Mason Honey Bee Initiative.

This program has many elements — from pollination courses to work teaching women in latin american to become bee keepers in order to make a living to provide for their families.

It is an exciting time for our Center and for the HBI as evidenced by recent media coverage..

A story by Michael Gaynor from the Washingtonian outline’s HBI and German Perilla’s efforts to find queen bees that are more resistant to colony collapse syndrome. More:

The honeybee has been facing a crisis brought on by parasites and pesticides. From 2015 to 2016, 44 percent of the commercial bee population died—a dire statistic considering that more than two-thirds of food crops rely on bees for pollination.

To save the species, Perilla is on the hunt for “the perfect queen.” He’s mating bees from the most robust hives to create a genetic standout that can birth a hive resistant to pests and disease.

But the Honey Bee Initiative is about more than science. Perilla’s students have traveled to the Amazon to teach beekeeping to women entrepreneurs in poor areas. Others studying anthropology, education, public policy, and even art have done projects. This year, engineering students took part in a campus hackathon, building a custom “smart hive” to better monitor the bees.

Another media piece, from Northern Virginia Mag, that explains HBI’s work with Covanta to reestablish meadow space in Fairfax County, VA on the property of a landfill. From the article by Eliza Berkon;

There are 12 colonies of honeybees at the landfill traveling in a 2-mile radius around the Lorton site as they forage, Perilla says. Both Fairfax County and Covanta, the private company that transfers waste into ash at the landfill, are funding the project.

“This is the first time we are trying to convert a landfill into a productive ecosystem,” Perilla says. “The hope is to at least double the population, have productive apiaries and have a little more acceptance of the people regarding the perception that they have of a landfill.”

UK Science Calls for Support of Undergrad Founders and Entrepreneurship Education

While it has a decidedly scientific bent to it, the Council for Science and Technology (a UK government agency) has sent a letter to Prime Minister at 10 Downing St. arguing for more improving entrepreneurship education.

The letter, with a direct nod to MIT, is signed by Sir Mark Walport and Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell, and can be found here.

Prime Minister Theresa May has responded here.

For my take on the campus ecosystem.