Higher Education in Focus – Student Entrepreneurship, Part 2

>>Support for Higher
Education in Focus comes from the Penn State Alumni
Association, serving Alumni and Alma Mater for 145 years,
on the web at alumni.psu.edu. Penn State Book Store,
improving the student experience at Penn State with
philanthropic support of student causes throughout
the university on the hub lawn or at psu.bncollege.com. The attorneys of McNees, Wallace
and Nurick, your mission, your goal, your lawyers. More at mwn.com. Higher Ed Jobs, a comprehensive
list of open faculty, administrative and executive
positions at colleges and universities across the US and worldwide online
at higheredjobs.com. And from viewers like you. Thank you. [ Music ]>>Good evening. I’m Patty Satalia with my
co-host Penn State President, Eric Barron. He’s in the guest
seat for this edition of Higher Education in Focus. Penn State ranks among the
top 20 research universities in the country, with more
than $800 million invested in research activities
each year. And, while Penn State
already contributes more to the State’s economy than
any other single institution, the university aspires
to do more. In the second of a three
part series we’ll talk with Dr. Barron about
translating the fruits of that research and innovation
into economic development aimed at job creation and promoting
student career success. Dr. Barron, thanks so
much for joining us.>>My pleasure.>>Big news for Penn Staters. The State recently announced that there will probably be
$264 million in state funding, that’s a 23 percent increase. And, from what I understand,
a plan to restore funding to Penn State over two years.>>Yeah, so this is
the Governor’s request to the legislature. So it’s the first
step in the process. But great news. You know, it’s been a long time since anybody proposed
an increase. And I think, I mean hopefully
it’s also recognition of the fact that the
university has said that its highest
priority is our access and affordability,
which certainly help. And also economic
development and job creation, which is increasingly becoming a
focal point for the university.>>Now I mentioned at the
beginning of the program that Penn State ranks 20th
among research universities in the country with $850 million in research expenditures
here at the university. But we rank 70th among
universities nationwide in getting intellectual property
to the marketplace, which sounds like lots of untapped potential.>>Huge amount of
untapped potential. I think so many different ideas,
so many different possibilities. And it hasn’t consciously been
an objective of the university. You know, we have this sense
that we feel an obligation to teach and an obligation to
publish, to share knowledge. This is another way
you share knowledge. And it just not been a priority. Penn State hasn’t tackled
it the way they should. But when Penn State
tackles something, we end up to be successful.>>In fact you want to make this
a hub for economic development. You mentioned other
universities. Other universities do
this sort of thing. Getting intellectual
properties to the marketplace. They actually even have things like Illinois has
Illinois Ventures. Penn State will be
Invent Penn State. But you want to do
this on a grand scale and systematically throughout
the entire institution.>>Well, I think the privates
have done it better, mostly.>>Stanford.>>Places like Stanford. They’ve done it better,
been more focused and felt more enabled
to do this. Whereas more of a
tuition driven university and a state driven university,
we’ve been a little bit slower. But the opportunities
are enormous. And I think the opportunities
are particularly great when we don’t think about
individual activities, which so many universities
are doing. But instead we’ve stepped back
and we’ve looked comprehensively at the opportunity and the
things that we need to do.>>You mentioned that privates
might do it a little bigger and probably aren’t as
worried about failure. Because when we talk
about entrepreneurship. I was reading an article from
Bloomberg and they say eight out of ten entrepreneurs
who start businesses fail. On the other hand, two
out of ten make it.>>Yes, and that two out
of ten is very exciting. And of course Stanford
isn’t going to tell you about
their failures. But as a public institution
people will focus on the failures. That’s another reason why we
need a little different model. We need to be helping
our communities do this and facilitating this
role for our faculty and students instead
of picking winners.>>Speaking of faculty and
students, you’ve talked about incentivizing
this entrepreneurship so that faculty is
interested in helping to get the next great idea
out into the marketplace. Explain how that will happen.>>Okay, so a lot
of different ways. But here’s the basic
idea to think about. And there’s an old adage, every great inventor
needs a great entrepreneur to get an idea to
the marketplace. So now you imagine
here’s someone, and let’s just pick chemistry,
and in their DNA is discovery, and that’s why they’re
a faculty member. Discovery and teaching. And they find something exciting
behind door A. What are they going to do? Are they going to lift
up their heads and say, “I think I should take
this to the marketplace.” Or are they going to find
out what’s behind door B? So if we put an entrepreneur
in residence, someone who has been there,
done that, and created licenses and patents and built companies. And if we put them, by
virtue of their experience, on the faculty next to a
chemist, then all of a sudden that chemist can still
look behind door B, but they’ve got a partner
entrepreneur having a partnership with
the inventor to get that idea to the marketplace. And then, so that’s one element. Hiring entrepreneurs
in residence and colleges and campuses. And another idea is actually
to put money on the table to get an idea closer
to the marketplace. So Penn State will put $1.5
million on the table next year for faculty and students
to make proposals. But the proposals have
to be partnerships between inventors
and entrepreneurs. Between the college of
business and chemistry. Or between the college of
business and engineering. So this is a way, again,
to create that partnership so that the chemist can be
the chemist and the explorer, and the entrepreneur
is right next to them. And the third part about
it is let’s reward faculty when they do this well. Let’s give them a
university-wide award that says you’re a job creator. You are successful in
economic development. You’ve driven student
career success and we want to recognize you and reward you.>>Reward you in perhaps also
a promotion and a pay raise?>>I certainly think
that it’d be nice to have a check attached to it. And you know, many times our
faculty aren’t as interested in the check as they
are the recognition, which is a compliment
to them I think.>>Now you mentioned this idea
of letting the chemist continue to look to see what is behind.>>Door B, yeah.>>Door number two, and that
made me think, you know, if we sell Penn State patents
so that it protects the right of that professor to continue
to do the research he so, he or she is so passionate
about.>>Yeah, so we have rules by
which we share these revenues, and we do this essentially
together. To license it or to sell it or
to help facilitate the startup of a company, so that the
university gets rewarded and the researcher
gets rewarded. This is a good way
to have it be.>>So you’ve mentioned these
entrepreneurs in residence, and there’s money in your
budget to hire eight of them. Where do you find, how do
you recruit an entrepreneur? And where will you
install them at Penn State?>>Yeah, so I’d like to
see them in every college. I can’t imagine a college
that wouldn’t benefit from an individual like this. So eight in my mind
is just a beginning. And I think it might turn out that this would be
a very exciting person, place for a person like that. And so we probably won’t
advertise in the same journals. But look at, taking another
example, college of education, people say an entrepreneur
in residence at the collect of education? Well how are people being
educated these days?>>Absolutely.>>Educational games,
it’s a big deal.>>And online.>>And online. So why not put the educational
game entrepreneur right next to the faculty that are
innovators in math education? And so that math, the latest
in math education is intrained in the educational games. It’s putting the entrepreneur
next to the inventor. The entrepreneur next
to the knowledge base. And I think this might really
enrich the opportunities in the university. And if I were into educational
games, man I would love to be located right there
in the college of education in a great university. So maybe we’ll have better
luck with these than we think.>>Now when you say an
entrepreneur in residence, I read a little bit
about entrepreneurs in residence in other settings. Working with venture
capitalists.>>Yeah.>>And they’re someone
who sort of comes on board and they know the nuts and
bolts of getting investors and getting a team
together, getting the money, getting it out to
market, the licensing and all of those things. It’s often a short-term
position. Do you see these as permanent
positions for Penn State?>>Either or. We might have somebody that
would come and spend a year. We might have somebody that
just loves it and really would like to be a regular
part of the faculty. The key is they’ve been
there and they’ve done that.>>You mention the college
of business and it sounds like that’s where we’re going
to see big changes and it sounds like growth in the
college of business. You know, lots of people are
interested in business classes, but it’s very, very
difficult to get into Penn State’s Smeal College
of Business because you know, this is a premier business
college and lots of interest. You’re saying that every student
in every major could benefit from some business courses.>>If that’s their inclination. So, you know, we sort of divided
this comprehensive landscape into a group of categories. And one of them is what
we’re doing internally. And another one is what we’re
going to do for students. So, you know, you think about,
say a student is a history major and they love history,
and they’re going to learn critical thinking
skills and communication skills and history, but they don’t have
an intent to be a historian. And so they might be out
there in the business world and attracted because
they’re good thinkers and good communicator. So why not advantage that
student with the minor in business if they know
that’s where they’re going so that they can make
a deliberate decision. I can’t, you know, in music
today you could be gifted and you’re not going to
make a living unless you can market yourself. And look how many
professions hang out a shingle. And look what the advantage to
an engineer if you have a minor in business or a minor
in entrepreneurship. So we can do a lot to
advantage our students in a path that they seem to be
taking anyway, is the idea.>>And that’s a part you’re
taking very seriously. The idea is economic
development. Job creation and
promoting student success.>>Yeah.>>And you’re talking about
really getting a handle on where Penn States end
up after they graduate.>>Correct.>>And really having extensive
data on where they are, what they’re doing,
what they’re earning, and what the job prospects
are for current students.>>Right. So I think
this advantages students in making deliberate decisions. And it helps us understand, this is the path a Penn
State student takes. So if that’s the path,
are there things we can do to make it easier for
them to get there, if that’s a deliberate
decision that they’re making. And many times that’s
opportunities and courses that we know that
would advantage them if that’s the path
that they’re taking. Plus, it allows our
students to go into a major with their eyes wide open. This is what happens to
a Penn State student.>>And if you are interested
in history, that’s fine, but you might also need this
if you want to make a job out of a history major.>>If you know that’s the path
you’re going to take anyway, let’s advantage that student.>>Now you talk also about
entrepreneurship boot camp. Most of us know what
a boot camp is. A lot of people are involved
in fitness boot camps. What’s an entrepreneurship
boot camp?>>Okay, so another portion
of this, in this sort of four part theme, is do we
have the kind of ecosystem around our campus and
campuses that support people that are creating startups. So what we’d like to do is
have a place for them to go, walk off campus, have it
be free as long as a group of people have said, “You
belong here, your idea is right for this type of level.” And then help those
individuals with the things that are most difficult. Why not have free legal aid
because otherwise they’re going to spend their time
online trying to figure out how to incorporate. Why not have mentorship on
business, on access to capital. All of those things that
we know are roadblocks. So you should be able
to come into this space, this Invent Penn State space, and be mentored and
have opportunity. And why not provide the
opportunity for alumni that want to help by creating mentors
in residence inside this space and facility so they
can commit themselves to say one day every
month, or a week, a year. And they come in and they rub
elbows with all of these people that are trying to
create businesses, and they help them,
they assist them. This is alumni helping and our
faculty helping individuals to be successful. So, in a sense you take
the strain and it’s kind of a boot camp because
you’re learning so quickly.>>You know, I said earlier that
eight out of ten entrepreneurs who start businesses
fail within 18 months, and they do so because
they run out of money. What you’re talking about, it
sounds like it’s going to help, you know, not because
they were bad ideas, but because they didn’t have
the money for the legal advice and all of these other things, or for the physical
space they might need.>>Right, so all of those
things are advantages. To get that physical
space for free, not to have to leap to renting. To get that mentoring
that you need. Access to capital you need. These are the things that a
young entrepreneur will tell that they struggle with. One of the other key parts
of this initiative is to add enough visibility
that we can attract resources for these individuals. Not by Penn State collecting
the money and handing it and picking a winner,
but by getting investors and giving them the opportunity
to invest in Penn State ideas. So, you have an intellectual
property fair and everybody can
lay out their wares. Now we will actually provide
a significant amount of money to award the winners
of those fairs. But anybody can walk around
them, say, “That’s a great idea, I’d like to invest in that.” And then the other part of
it is we’re actually going to create a Penn
State branded platform where you post online
your business plan and we will open those
business plans to our alumni and to our friends
and community members. And the idea is that they can
look at all these ideas coming out of Penn State and say, “You know I’m going
to invest $5,000.” So this attracts angel investors
and venture capitalists to invest in Penn State ideas. So this is part of the reason of
taking it outside of our walls because we’re a public, and just
facilitating people being able to invest in those ideas. Because those young
entrepreneurs will tell you over and over again, “How
do I get capital. This is the hardest part for me. I give up.” So why not make it easy for
fellow Penn Staters to invest in ideas coming out
of Penn State. And then after it’s been there
for a while, we’ll open it up internationally
using corporations that post business plans
all over the world.>>Okay, you have
my mind racing.>>Yeah, it’s okay.>>That I want to talk about. So this fair, intellectual
property fair. Are you thinking of
something like a huge event at the Bryce Jordan Center?>>Absolutely.>>Where people from
all over the state, all over the country
could come to see?>>We’re an 800 plus million
dollar research machine full of ideas. Let’s open up the
Bryce Jordan Center. We’re going to do
this next spring. We will fill it full of ideas that are coming out
of Penn State. We will have for the first
fair $250,000 on the table to pick projects that
are particularly close to the marketplace. And it’s an opportunity for
other people to take a peek at the ideas coming
out of Penn State.>>And you’ll be
inviting alumni. And there are so many
Penn State alumni first of all, all over the country. But many who are
heads of corporations.>>Many, many opportunities. From people that are
serial entrepreneurs, that are always investing. And, you know, I talk to so
many alumni and they say, “Well, I am part of an angel
investment group and I’m always picking
on different ideas.” Why not have them see
the Penn State ideas? Right now they can’t see it and
they don’t see what’s going on. They don’t know how
to put their straw into the Penn State
set of ideas. So let’s help them.>>But I’m also thinking
Shark Tank.>>Yeah.>>A very popular program on
television, and it sounds to me like this is an opportunity
for people with ideas to put it in front of people who know how
to get ideas off the ground, who can say, “That needs
a little bit of work. That’s never going to make it. And this deserves another.”>>More attention.>>Yeah.>>So, and if you
think about it, right now Penn State has
a lot of flowers blooming. College of business has a shark
tank, IST has a startup, we, you know, engineering
and agriculture, they do things like this. So, what we’re trying to
also do is to elevate this. So it’s not the $500,
$1,000 or $2,000 idea from that type of exercise. But move it up to a level where
there’s a significant amount of money that is there and
those will help those ideas that are really the good
ones I think to be able to be fostered and to grow. Especially if they can
move from an IP fair, getting the significant
recognition and award, into free space with
mentors and the kind of boot camp environment that
really launch them successfully.>>This free space has me
thinking about how there’s going to have to be buy in in the
community by way of, you know, business and industry
or chambers of commerce.>>Yeah.>>And so I’m wondering to what
extent has Penn State begun to create those relationships?>>We have, multiple times. And I would say that the
community business leaders and community leaders are
thrilled at the notion that Penn State’s going to
make this kind of investment. And we’re going to make it in
the Commonwealth campuses too, not just University Park. But the bigger investment
is university park because there’s a larger amount of research knowledge
that are there.>>So there’s also
something called the Student Innovation Foundation.>>Yeah.>>Explain what that is.>>Okay, so here
is really the key. The university doesn’t own a
student’s intellectual property. They’re not our employee. They own it. Okay, so some places would
look at that and say, “Okay, well we’re not going to spend
all our money helping our students be successful
in this framework. We’re not going to
do that mentoring and all these other
activities outside of the walls of the university
because we don’t own that intellectual property. We should be facilitating
intellectual property that we own.” Well I have the exact
opposite notion. And that is we’re there to
make the students be successful and whereas we may not sit there
and say, “Okay, let’s try this.” Let’s create a student
innovation foundation and let’s let our alumni
build a kitty of money and have the student go to
that innovation foundation for that type of mentoring
that goes beyond the classroom. And have some funds there where
a group of people can sit there and say, “You know, that
has a lot of promise. We’re going to help
kick start you as well.” And so it provides an
avenue for students to become even more
effective entrepreneurs. And my bet is if we do a good
job, later on they’ll give back. Plus they will be
very successful and that will make us proud.>>So we talked about this $30
million initial investment. Where will that come
from and you know, this is not once and done. This is something that
Penn State is in this for the long term, creating jobs and student success
is your mission.>>So part of it is
to get the space. And so that’s one time. But there’s at least $5
million there that’s recurring. And investments that are
occurring in the office of the Vice President
for research. You know, the fair,
the activities, the Penn State branded platform. All of these different areas
that make up this $5 million. And basically what we have done
is we have moved university resources that haven’t been
gaining a lot of interest into interest bearing accounts. And we’re going to fund
this off the interest. And the idea is that
that money is there as security for the university. And I’ve said if the university
needs the money they’ll be able to go get it. But in the meantime let’s earn
as much money on it as we can and we’re going to fund these
initiatives off the interest. So that’s what we’re doing.>>Now Penn State is
involved in research in energy and the health sciences and
engineering and education. I mean the list goes on and on. But I’m wondering, is there
an idea or two from some of the different
colleges or research areas that you think here’s an idea that you can maybe tell
us a little bit about?>>Okay, I think
really it’s good to think about the spectrum. So I’ll give you
two possibilities. One is called additive
manufacturing, 3D printing. And the vision is that some day in your home you’ll have a
3D printer and when the knob on the kitchen cabinet breaks
you go to your computer and it will make the knob,
and you won’t go to a store. Penn State is a leader
in that arena. We should be building businesses
and opportunities around us. That way our students are
educated in the cutting edge of additive manufacturing
and they’re moving right into our community
into good jobs. That’s part of the idea
of economic development, job creation of student
career success, is innovation in the market and have the
students follow the market. Let’s take another perspective. We’re named the number
one university in online baccalaureate degrees. That tells me that we have
a whole group of people that are incredibly
innovative in the technology and delivery of education
online. Why aren’t the industries
being built up around us? Why aren’t we having our
students that are a part of that emerging area
building their businesses right around us? So I just took two opposite
ends of the spectrum. One that’s materials and
engineering, and another that’s on the educational
side of things. Both would be perfect.>>Now you’ve sort of turned on
its head the relationship most of us think of a university
having with a state. The university usually
goes to the state and says, “What can you do for me?” And you’re saying, you know, “What can Penn State
do for the state?” And we talked a little bit
about the fact that some funding to the university is
going to be restored. I’m just wondering how
excited is the Legislature or the Governor about
what you’re talking about?>>I think every time I talk
to folks in the Legislature and I’ve had conversations
with the Governor, they’re quite excited
about the notion that we’re not just
putting our hands out, please give us more money. But instead we’re sitting
there saying, okay, we are here as for the common
good and we educate students for the common wealth and
they are more successful, and we have an economic
impact on the state. Why shouldn’t we take
more seriously the notion of driving the economy
and participating with the state as partners? Because it will make life
better for all of us. It will increase tax
revenues and we’ll be able to do more and more things.>>And if this really gets off
in a big way, you’re talking about recruiting
companies to this region.>>Absolutely, as a matter
of fact, I’m counting on it, recruiting companies to
the State of Pennsylvania. I actually think
this is a good thing to even ask a university
president to do.>>We have just a couple
of seconds remaining, but how long will it take for
there to be something tangible?>>Well, we’re going to, every time we do
something you’re going to see Invent Penn State.>>Alright, thank you so
much for talking with us. That was Penn State President
Eric Barron talking for a turn in the guest seat
for this edition of Higher Education in Focus. We’ll be back next month
to continue our discussion on entrepreneurship and
student career success. I’m Patty Satalia. From all of us here at
WPSU, thanks for joining us. [ Music ]>>Support for Higher
Education in Focus comes from the Penn State Alumni
Association, serving Alumni and Alma Mater for 145 years,
on the web at alumni.psu.edu. Penn State Book Store,
improving the student experience at Penn State with
philanthropic support of student causes throughout
the university on the hub lawn or at psu.bncollege.com. The attorneys of McNees, Wallace
and Nurick, your mission, your goal, your lawyers. More at mwn.com. Higher Ed Jobs, a comprehensive
list of open faculty, administrative and executive
positions at colleges and universities across the US and worldwide online
at higheredjobs.com. And from viewers like you. Thank you>>On the next Higher
Education in Focus.>>You’ve talked about incentivizing
this entrepreneurship. Explain how that will happen.>>Okay, so there’s
an old adage, every great inventor
needs a great entrepreneur to get an idea to
the marketplace. So if we put an entrepreneur in
residence, and if we put them, by virtue of their
experience, on the faculty next to a chemist, they’ve
got a partner to get that idea to the marketplace.

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