UPenn Edu Entrepreneurship Conference

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.

Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is the CEO of Getting Smart. He has written or co-authored more than 50 books and papers including Getting Smart, Smart Cities, Smart Parents, Better Together, The Power of Place and Difference Making. He served as a public school superintendent and the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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