Crack Open an Academic, Find an Entrepreneur

At PWC’s Diamond Exchange yesterday, where I am the dumbest person in the room and loving it, I heard an interesting assertion by Justin Hall-Tipping.

He said that “all university professors are fundamentally entrepreneurs.”  After all, where else can you find people that are perfectly OK with new ideas which have 99.99% chance of failure?  Further, where else but at universities can you find people that are dedicated to creating new knowledge and capturing the elusive lightning and bottling it?  And this is done by hard work lasting years and years by people who are also willing to admit the idea wasn’t workable and can move on to the next thing.

In the business world we’re saddled with the average stock being held for just 7 months and corporate cultures where failure–of any kind–is often met with career death.  Is it any wonder that we’re great at creating wonderful exotic financial products that Wall Street can bet on and make billions of dollars quickly, yet thousands of children will die today for lack of a clean drink of water?

What could you do?  Work with some academics on hard problems.  Give them the time to test some theories and do the hard science.  Let them fail and win.



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