This year has brought a lot of productive give-and-take of ideas on clean energy innovation by people around the world who saw opportunity rather than doom in the combination of environmental and financial challenges. Last May, for example, I joined over 140 participants from all sectors at the White House Energy Innovation Conference to discuss how to accelerate energy innovation and support entrepreneurs and small businesses in the energy sector. During follow-up regional meetings in June, scientists, entrepreneurs, innovators, venture capitalists, military and government experts, and others discussed policy and processes that can enhance all stages of the energy innovation pipeline. Earlier this month, the United Nations Environment Program and the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century showed concrete results (at least in terms of effort) when they revealed in a pair of new reports that by early 2010 more than 100 countries enacted policies to boost the development of a green economy and businesses in the fields of renewable energy and energy efficiency.
Everyone surely owns an innovative product that has its roots in a university lab, or knows someone that has benefited from the presence of start-ups that formed through the dissemination of knowledge and technologies from the university to the marketplace. Universities have been the lifeblood of many vibrant economies, such as Silicon Valley, whose engine is Stanford University. A key question, therefore, is whether we are maximizing the positive economy-wide impact of these engines for knowledge, innovation, jobs and competitiveness. Continue reading
Not too long ago, entrepreneurship education was part of the curriculum of few university programs across the country. In 2003, the Kauffman Campuses initiative started to help seed cross-campus entrepreneurship programs at dozens of American universities, thereby allowing more young people to explore their entrepreneurial potential. Other universities have since moved in the same direction, bringing entrepreneurship education into the mainstream of learning by offering entrepreneurship courses and sponsoring extra-curricular activities, such as business plan competitions. Other institutions, like MIT, have gone even further by helping student scientists commercialize innovations. Continue reading