Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Is money well spent on entrereneurship education

UK Government provides millions for entrepreneurship education to schools, Further education programmes and to Higher Education. And I mean millions.

Broadly these funds go to secondary schools to ensure 5 days worth of entrpreneurship education (but political correctness means we have to call it "enterprise education" - whatever that is)

Those who have not gone to University but into more vocational education (FE) get very patchy support - mostly based on regional efforts, while in teh Higher Education sector there are two main sources of funding - one for commercialisation and one for transferable skills. Both of these manifest themselves ultimatley into entrepreneurship courses and activities of one kind or another.

There is ofcourse no co-ordination with the result that there is much redundancy, poor quality and uninformed courses. And there is some excellent work being done as well.

The UK has the luxury of actually having so much provision that we can even ask and challenge with such questions - whereas many of its European neighbours have nothing (relatively). So two questions arise:

How do we make things sharper and more effective so every Pound spent is more wisely spent and two does it matter if there is some redundancy - because at least there is something, while the neighbours still struggle with acknowledging the need.

Is this a serious matter and what shoudl we do about it?

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Entrepreneur in different languages

In Spanish: Emprendedor
In Finnish: Yrittäjä - More or less meaning someone who tries
By Carlos del Corral Product design and development manager
posted 1 hour ago
In German it's "Unternehmer" which, like in French, literally means "someone who undertakes to do something". It's a pity that the translation into English of "Undertaker" has a very different meaning !!
By Keith Haisman Interim Manager, Turnaround Director and Executive Coach
posted 45 minutes ago
And like the word manager has this term been hijacked!?

By the way for those of you who have placed comments I can't seem to figure out how to allow people to view the comments - although I have moderated and published them. There must a button I am missing! So - here are the definitions captured so far!

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Oxford and Cambridge only two medieval Universities that have a strong provision of entrepreneurship education

As Cambridge celebrates 800 years of progress, which together with Oxford is the only University which is ranked in single digits!

Year, University, Ranking(08) Country

1088 Bologna 192 = Italy
1096 Oxford 4 UK
1175 Modena 501+ Italy

1200 Sorbonne (Paris IV) 239= France
1209 Cambridge 3 UK
1218 Salamanca 401-500 Spain
1220 Montpellier III 501+ France
1222 Padua 296= Italy
1224 Naples – Frederico II 398= Italy
1229 Toulouse I 501+ France
1229 Toulouse II 501+ France
1240 Siena 401-500 Italy
1258 Paris I (Pantheon Sorbonne) 288 France
1272 Murcia 501+ Spain
1290 Coimbra 387= Portugal
1293 Madrid 306 Spain

Source: Times Higher Education List of the World’s Oldest Universities that are among the top ranking Institutions

How have these two medieval Institutions risen to the top to compete with modern Universities in the USA, which is where the bulk of the very top Universities are found?

Is it that they have secured more money, that they control publications, that English has become the dominant language or because they are secular in their research and inquiry?

For me the interesting fact is that it is only Oxford and Cambridge among the medieval institutions, selected for being among the oldest, that have a provision of entrepreneurship education for their undergrads and postgraduates. They both happen to be in the UK which has embraced commercialisation and skills for employability as strong values for their Universities - so they get funded to provide this.

The long term question may be about whether such education and the adoption of new values (entrepreneurship) will deflect from excellence or continue to enhance it. If you take the top Institutions around the world - they are all surrounded by technology entrepreneurship clusters. Hmm, raises a lot of questions!

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Is there opportunity in getting rid of aging?

The following is an extract from http://www.sens.org/index.php?pagename=sens_rab

Two thirds of all deaths worldwide, and about 90% of all deaths in the developed world, are from causes that only rarely kill young adults. These causes include Alzheimer's, cardiovascular disease, Type II diabetes and most cancers. They are age-related because they are expressions of the later stages of aging, occurring when the molecular and cellular damage that has accumulated in the body throughout life exceeds the level that metabolism can tolerate. Moreover, before it kills them, aging imposes on most elderly people a long period of debilitation and disease. For these reasons, aging is unarguably the most prevalent medically-relevant phenomenon in the modern world and the primary ultimate target of biomedical research.

The implication is that as researchers get to grips with the vision of the SENS Foundation - there would be a stream of opportunities. And there are enough ethical issues to get us talking as well...

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Is there a word for entrepreneur in languages other than French

Over the past 6 months I have had an opportunity to travel to several countries and it seems to me that only French has a real word to capture the essence of what it is to be an innovator that brings an idea to market. English has largely borroed from the French - but has a word Enterpriser, there are similar words in Castallan (Spanish) but I would like to hear from others if their languages and cultures have a word directly translatable to "entrpreneur".

So the former President Bush got it completely wrong in one sense - the French to have a word for Entrepreneur - but do other languages and cultures?

What I found interesting in Jordan - during a recent visit is that in Arabic there is no such word - but there is one for failure - and it is not just descriptive - it is a really strong form of "insult"....

Maybe we don't need a word in other languages for "entrepreneur" - but it seems a shame...

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Never trust overpaid fools but let us not confuse ethics with education

“I hope we never again trust overpaid fools who think they know best thanks to bogus theories! This was the end line from a piece by Luke Johnson in the Financial Times on Friday 29th May in FT.com.

I completely agree that the world should not trust overpaid fools. It seems to me that while Luke Johnson makes a very valid point that entrepreneurs with a strong element of common sense and intuition as guiding principles over the jargon filled board rooms of corporate would not have made the catastrophic decisions that have led finally to companies like GM filing for bankruptcy, he over simplifies the story.
The costs of instinct, gut feel and down to earth decisions can also have a high price – it is not a perfect system. Investors always talk about the need to have a portfolio of say 10 or more companies, from which they hope one will bring in the big returns, acknowledge that four or five will remain as part of the living dead in the portfolio and accept the losses they may incur in the remainder of the portfolio. How come that intuition and common sense also lead to the endless churn of management teams as investors get fed up with their top teams and fire them in favour of yet more people coming in from their close network of people with common sense, intuition and it seems increasingly, a further requirement – dyslexia? (Most commonly trotted out as a disadvantage in articles on entrepreneurship).
Common sense and down to earth ability of entrepreneurs have also lead to high levels of success or failure in terms of the performance of millions of small businesses in the UK and indeed around the world.
Intuition and common sense are required in good measure in business, but they are not the only requirements. And it is true that highly educated individuals who have lost this ability are a burden, not just in business but also in society. Luke Johnson could have written about business ethics and societal values in his article more than about the virtues of untrained and uneducated entrepreneurs.
It is important to differentiate between formal know-what and informal know-how and indeed know-who in entrepreneurship. Often people confuse entrepreneurship education with a kind of business studies or business plan writing course. Formal understanding of business principles and theories that have stood the test of time are invaluable to the majority of people. In addition it is important to have a high level of self-awareness, social skills, and an ability to pitch a story, practical skills and to build a network of individuals who can help each other. Most, if not all of this is best learnt from practitioners and the role of Universities is to help put programmes and events in place that can provide the best of insights from formal and informal sources to enrich society with people who can make a difference. And while I agree completely with Luke Johnson that we never want to trust over paid fools again, let us not confuse education with ethical behaviours – which can be violated by both the overpaid fools and by entrepreneurs.