A region needs, not just many entrepreneurs, but many successful, high-growth entrepreneurs – men and women with the dedication, support and freedom of economic action to build global companies from scratch.
High-growth entrepreneurs – sometimes called “gazelles” in the academic literature – are the real force behind job creation. They were responsible for some 70 per cent of US employment growth in the early 1990s, for instance. In Britain, one study found 4 per cent of the new firms formed in a given year accounted for 50 per cent of all the jobs created 10 years down the road.
So how do you encourage high-growth entrepreneurs in Europe? In a society that is, by the standards of America or the Pacific Rim, pathologically risk-averse, how do you create a climate in which people will take a chance? And what policies do you adopt so that, once they have taken the plunge, the odds are longer that they will succeed?
It is to encourage debate on these questions that Science|Business is organising a cycle of news, features and policy analysis in coming months. We begin our coverage with a collection of profiles – journalistic snap-shots of technology entrepreneurs in Europe who made it big. These men and women can serve as role models for the rising generation of academics, engineers and other technically-skilled Europeans.
The names of most of the people profiled were suggested by the Science|Business Innovation Board, a blue-ribbon panel of leaders in European academia, policy and industry which meets periodically to discuss EU innovation policy. The Board is organized by Science|Business, and supported by Microsoft International.
The Board met to discuss role-model entrepreneurs – what makes them tick? – on 20 June 2007, in the Boardroom of Imperial College London. The host for the Imperial meeting was Sir Richard Sykes, rector of Imperial College London. The Board will meet again 10 December, in Barcelona, hosted by Xavier Mendoza, Dean of the ESADE Business School. Additional activities are planned throughout 2008 – and we welcome your comments and questions as we proceed. Indeed, we’d be happy to publish your views in this debate – pro or con.
The Innovation Board, and this series of profiles in success, reflect the founding motivation of Science|Business, itself: through working with our university and industry partners, we want to improve the climate for enterprise in science.
Terri Robinson | alfa
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