The UPenn GSE hosted a well attended conversation about education entrepreneurship today. About a dozen education CEOs, investment bankers, notable non-profit Executive Directors, and foundation executives joined Penn faculty members in a lively discussion of how to encourage entrepreneurship and the role that Penn can play.

There was some agreement that “The market sucks,” a largely impenetrable monopoly lacking incentives for performance that drives away investment. There was agreement that it’s difficult to get funding to develop and scale innovations for non-profits as well as for-profit. There was common concern for demographic achievement gaps in the US and the gap between US and other countries–and a believe that innovation and entrepreneurship would help close the gaps.

We spent the afternoon exploring ways a graduate school of education could promote entrepreneurship. Here’s a few of the ideas:

· Sponsor an enterprise zone (or a CMO) and support it with talent development

· Build a bridge between education and employment by brokering real world learning opportunities

· Hold a business plan competition in conjunction with the B school

· Convene expert panels to tackle tough problems like charter school facilities

· Create a Consumer Reports for education projects and services

· Create a learning venture in conjunction with the business and computer science schools and funded by 1% of the endowment; encourage a dozen other leading universities to do the same

It would be great to see more GSEs become part of the entrepreneurial solution instead of being part of the problem.

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