At the beginning of 2014, Provost David S. Lee‘99 created the Princeton Entrepreneurship Advisory Committee (PEAC), a balanced group of faculty, students, administrators, and alumni with expertise in this area. The committee was asked to develop a bold, long—term vision of how the University can best support its student, faculty, and alumni entrepreneurs in a way that furthers Princeton’s educational mission and is rooted in its strengths as a liberal arts institution and as a leading research university.
Entrepreneurship the Princeton Way starts with how we define the terms. In contrast to standard definitions and typical focus by a university, we think of “entrepreneurship” as the “initiation of transformations through risk—taking actions and value—creating organizations.” And we view the term “entrepreneur” not merely as an occupation but instead as a mindset. Entrepreneurial actions take place not only by the founding of start—ups, but also by creating nonprofits, joining early—stage companies, and innovating within large corporations, governments, and nongovernmental organizations, all of them with the common thread of taking actions to make significant, positive changes by way of a daily process that pushes, pivots, and persists.
Entrepreneurship the Princeton Way also has a specific strategic inspiration: to prepare students and faculty to achieve the highest standard of excellence of entrepreneurial activities as a service to the nation and all nations.
Multiple organizations across campus have started to create entrepreneurship programs in recent years, with early success, growing momentum, and promising potential. But by Princeton’s standard of excellence in everything it chooses to do, much more remains to be done. After extensive outreach, comparisons with peer institutions, and detailed self—study, we hereby make three sets of recommendations.
- 1. An ecosystem of entrepreneurial alumni
We realize the importance of building an ecosystem within our community of Princetonians on campus and beyond, and we will draw on the expertise of the experienced entrepreneurs among our famously loyal alumni to create an accessible network for Princeton’s students and faculty. Entrepreneurship the Princeton Way will invest in the long—term entrepreneurial potential of Princetonians and build the most—effective entrepreneurial alumni engagement with students and faculty.
- 2. A certificate program that ties into and amplifies Princeton’s liberal arts education
We believe that Entrepreneurship the Princeton Way will amplify what Princeton stands for: providing a broad—minded liberal arts education that will contribute to the common good and creating innovative research that may translate into societal impact. Providing outlets for entrepreneurial experiences can enhance our core mission of spurring creativity and help students build the character they will need for taking risks, following their passions, and persisting through the inevitable failures that are necessary parts of entrepreneurial activity.
- 3. A physical space for entrepreneurs to meet each other
Entrepreneurship is fundamentally about individuals who embrace uncertainty, meet the intellectual and practical challenges with perseverance, and who bootstrap each step of the way. Renting an easily—accessible incubator space in the near term and providing an on—campus building dedicated to entrepreneurship in the long term will provide a physical anchor for all entrepreneurship programs and help advance the University’s teaching and research mission.