What's the University's Role in Entrepreneurial Communities?

Two nights ago I had the opportunity to speak on a panel held by the entrepreneurial club at the Kogod School of Business. Big thanks to Robert Neelbauer for putting the event together. We had the opportunity to speak with a large group of entrepreneurs at the university and it was the first time that I was involved in a local university event. Following the event I was engaged in a number of discussions about how universities can play a larger role in building entrepreneurial communities and what role they should play.

Andrew Wright attended the event and told me about some of the challenges he had faced when working with one of the local universities in trying to build engaging events and getting the university to play a larger role in the community. Ultimately there is a conflict of interest that I see at universities. They frequently invest more heavily in the brand name of the university then in the students. Case and point: bringing large keynote speakers that students find it difficult to relate to.

In my own opinion it is best to have local universities involved with the local professional event producers to get jobs for students and to increase the likelihood of students finding mentors. While I’m not quite sure what the role of a local university is, I believe that investing in the students should be a priority over investing in the brand name of a university. When those students become talented individuals in the professional world, it will come back to benefit the university when those individuals return to speak.

How do you think local universities should be involved in building entrepreneurial communities?