Archive for May, 2010

The DNA Of Entrepreneurial Ecosystems

“From the outset, America had been a nation of entrepreneurs.”– A Patriot’s History of the United States by Larry Schweikart

I recently had the honor of hosting a delegation of entrepreneurs and economic development officials from Africa at Drexel University’s Baiada Center for Entrepreneurship.  During the dialogue one of our guests commented on the difficulty of obtaining financial support within the entrepreneurial ecosystem, be it private or public funds, for programs to incubate ideas, entrepreneurs and companies in Africa.  As she was explaining the situation in Nigeria, it brought to mind a similar conversation several years ago, while I was with a North American delegation to the United Kingdom to share best practices in entrepreneurship education and incubation.

When describing that the success of our programs at the Baiada Center are made possible through generous gifts from private individuals and companies, my colleagues from the UK informed me that private individuals/companies in the UK are not accustomed to contributing financially to endeavors like ours, rendering the government the only viable source of funding to operate their programs.  Said differently, the private sector in the UK looks to their government agencies to ensure growth of a healthy entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Recent events in China punctuate the impact of political systems on the state of the entrepreneurial ecosystem.  Baiada Center benefactor, Mel Baiada, recently visited a number of mega tech parks recently constructed in China.  With the full weight of central government behind it, entrepreneurship is becoming a booming industry in China.  Just a few short years ago, an educator visited me from China who was lamenting the difficulties of building momentum for entrepreneurship in China.  It is yet to be seen how government architected entrepreneurship will look.

Armed with a restless spirit and a longing to innovate, this country has prospered from its earliest days based on a strong belief in the power and ingenuity of private citizens over the wisdom of a central government.  That very spirit has propelled Drexel University’s Baiada Center to achieve top rankings in entrepreneurship.  I am grateful to the countless individuals and private companies for their contributions in helping us pursue our purpose of incubating ideas, entrepreneurs and companies.  It is a glowing example of the power and ingenuity of private citizens pursuing a common purpose over the wisdom of government.

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