The Enterpreneurial Opportunity
Events have conspired to place our great universities in an either enviable or terrifying position, depending on your point of view. They are collectively among the most affluent institutions in our society.1 They are populated with the best minds in the world and have created a culture that encourages new knowledge and puts it to practical use. But such a wealth of resources comes with an imposing responsibility. Donors, grant makers, and the public at large expect big things from what can reasonably be characterized as one of the crown jewels of our society. Having accumulated such significant resources in the name of advancing society, universities have no choice but to embrace the challenge, but those of us inside the academy know it will be no easy task to meet the high expectations we have created. We believe this moment in history makes unlocking the innovative potential of our research universities a national imperative, and an entrepreneurial mindset is key to achieving this objective.
Five historical trends support our conclusion. First, the problems of the twenty-first century are big and complex. Attacking them will require unprecedented resources and nontraditional approaches that complement traditional academic disciplines. Second, information-based tools at the disposal of individuals and small groups undermine the authority of large bureaucratic institutions and empower those with an entrepreneurial mindset. Third, the students who are the heart and soul of all great universi-