On the first day of the HPAIR Harvard Conference 2014 I attended panel discussions on business leadership in Asia — about which I might write later — and also a very interesting seminar on entrepreneurship, in which Imran Sayeed, CTO of NTT Data, Inc. and Senior Lecturer at MIT Sloan, talked about the importance of entrepreneurial ecosystems.
Specifically, he addressed what it needs to create such environments of local entrepreneurship. Along incubators, growth capital and customers willing to buy from start-ups, several other factors are required. One factor that might sound obvious at first is the recognition and celebration of entrepreneurship. This can be achieved by highlighting examples of successful (serial) entrepreneurs, i.e. by bringing together entrepreneurial alumni and current students at universities or holding business plan competitions. Unfortunately, some Asian countries like the UAE and Singapore seem to lack good reasons for people to become an entrepreneur, because these markets offer well-paid job alternatives in banking, consulting and real estate. While some scholars believe that governments have little effect on the creation of entrepreneurial ecosystems, Sayeed says that governments shall launch incubators, provide guarantees for loans or even loans, and provide incentives to buy from start-ups.
I also asked a question about the rivalry between MIT and Harvard when it comes to entrepreneurship. In fact, there is a lot of co-operation between the two institutions, says Imran Sayeed. Anyways, after some research I came across the very interesting article ‘How MIT became the most important university in the world’, which deals with this rivalry and entrepreneurship. Make sure you check it out!