Great Reset: What university entrepreneurship can bring to the post-COVID world

masks coronavirus

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Mark Dodgson, Professor of Innovation Studies, The University of Queensland & David Gann, Professor of Technology and Innovation Management, Imperial College


  • Entrepreneurship can provide a greater range of options, as well as speed and agility, to a world adapting to the aftermath of COVID-19;
  • Universities provide research, resources, incentives and policies to support entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship;
  • Education and training in entrepreneurship offered by universities will need to scale and adjust to the new demands of the Great Reset.

Rightly lauded for its contributions to the fight against COVID-19, university-supported, science-based entrepreneurship must also be part of the vanguard of the global response to the pandemic. Through their engagement, teaching and research, universities must redouble their efforts to work alongside corporations, governments and NGOs as they search for new business models and policies to assist “the Great Reset”.

 

Entrepreneurship is an adaptive wildcard in the complex, emerging and uncertain post-COVID-19 world. How entrepreneurs seize new opportunities and take risks increases the range of options available to the world as it navigates to a greener and fairer society. University entrepreneurship has a crucial role to play in resetting the foundations of the economic and social system for a more equitable, sustainable and resilient future.

New entrepreneurial organizations provide speed and agility to address novel challenges. Existing organizations whose routines have been fundamentally disrupted will need entrepreneurial skills to navigate post-COVID-19 instabilities and innovate new approaches. With so many lives turned upside down and millions of jobs destroyed, the entrepreneurial ability to create new products and services, and hence employment, while enhancing sustainability and social inclusion, is central to global recovery.

Universities need to be in the vanguard

Universities possess deep reservoirs of knowledge from which entrepreneurs can draw. They have policies, incentives and centres designed to develop and encourage entrepreneurship amongst staff and students, and to improve their external connections. Their education and training enhance the managerial and entrepreneurial skills needed to build rapid responses in business and government and the capabilities for the agile yet resilient organizations that will be needed in the future.

Faced with the challenges of COVID-19, universities’ first response will be to maintain a good educational experience for students and ensure their research capabilities remain well-founded. But in these straitened financial circumstances, they must not lose sight of their important contributions to entrepreneurship. They must ease the path for translating their research into business, improve their research efforts in social and environmental entrepreneurship and increase the scale of their education and training offerings in the subject while maintaining its quality.

Such expertise will be needed to quickly deal with new and unforeseen difficulties, such as overcoming the profound social and psychological damage of social distancing and self-isolation. As social animals, how can we physically distance without becoming socially distant, maintaining the health of both our bodies and minds? As economic agents, what new long-term, sustainable, and inclusive business models are needed to maintain the benefits of an intensely connected world, when those connections are medically and politically challenged?

There are no simple solutions to such questions, and answers will require thousands of entrepreneurial experiments. Entrepreneurs will take risks investing in opportunities and, while many will fail, some will have a profound impact.

Scientific and entrepreneurial leadership

University expertise in developing vaccines and tests and the knowledge of epidemiologists, infectious disease scientists and public health researchers that model global pandemics are essential to getting the world back to work. But it is the full range of academic expertise that will be useful in resetting the world after the virus is defeated. Historians can teach us the lessons of past pandemics; economists, sociologists, political scientists, ethicists, and others, can inform how to rebuild a better society; and scholars in the humanities will help interpret and explain how the world has changed.

University engineers will redesign safe transportation systems and workplaces, while psychologists help deal with the mental health consequences of self-isolation, create new safer behaviours and rebuild trust between governments and citizens, employers and employees. Independent advice from universities will guide the ethical use of personal data for tracking and tracing people with this and future viruses. Universities will use the science and technologies that they themselves developed, such as the predictive power of artificial intelligence in vaccine development and contact tracing, to provide essential tools for creating a post-COVID-19 world.

What is the World Economic Forum doing about the coronavirus outbreak?

Responding to the COVID-19 pandemic requires global cooperation among governments, international organizations and the business community, which is at the centre of the World Economic Forum’s mission as the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation.

Since its launch on 11 March, the Forum’s COVID Action Platform has brought together 1,667 stakeholders from 1,106 businesses and organizations to mitigate the risk and impact of the unprecedented global health emergency that is COVID-19.

The platform is created with the support of the World Health Organization and is open to all businesses and industry groups, as well as other stakeholders, aiming to integrate and inform joint action.

As an organization, the Forum has a track record of supporting efforts to contain epidemics. In 2017, at our Annual Meeting, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) was launched – bringing together experts from government, business, health, academia and civil society to accelerate the development of vaccines. CEPI is currently supporting the race to develop a vaccine against this strand of the coronavirus.

It is entrepreneurship, both in start-ups and established firms, that will draw on these deep wells of knowledge and, working with business and government, quickly translate them into practice.

Engagement policies need to be enhanced

Universities have expedited their efforts to encourage entrepreneurship in recent years. They have to maintain and enhance this momentum. Amongst all their other priorities, universities should increase the support they offer high-potential science-based start-ups and entrepreneurs who are likely struggling since lockdown. This could take the form of easier or cheaper access to intellectual property, facilities and expertise. Entrepreneurs have to become a focal point for the collaboration between all those organizations – governments, businesses, NGOs, philanthropists and charities – that is necessary for the Great Reset.

Entrepreneurship needs to be open for all

Entrepreneurship is a life skill. It should be an educational experience open to everyone.

Business schools encourage entrepreneurship through their research and teaching. In recent years, in response to the demand from young people, this has increasingly focused on social entrepreneurship. More and better research on the social and environmental aspects of the subject will improve decisions, not only amongst potential and current entrepreneurs but also in national and local governments keen to rebuild economies.

The number of entrepreneurship courses in universities has proliferated, but education and training in entrepreneurship will need to scale and adjust to the new demands of the Great Reset. This is achievable, as universities have proven very agile in their responses to teaching during lockdown. In the course of a month, with rapid speed in the final week, the University of Queensland Business School, for example, moved more than 200 courses from face-to-face to online teaching for more than 9,000 students.

Much is being done quickly and at scale to offer basic training for entrepreneurs through online programmes. The growing expertise in universities in using online media for education will also be needed as a complement or supplement to the more intensive forms of learning that will be needed to address the complex challenges of the future. Such learning is experiential and requires the building of effective cross-disciplinary and cross-professional teams which can integrate the demands and contributions of business, government, the third sector and universities.

Universities must focus on entrepreneurs

The Great Reset will achieve little if it fails to build resilience against future crises. Whether new pandemics or the consequences of climate change, massively disruptive global challenges will again confront us.

In preparation for these trials and to assist in their alleviation, we need to remember the insight of the great economist John Maynard Keynes, who argued that the more unstable the parameters in the world, the more the insights and intuition of the entrepreneur matter. Amongst all the difficulties universities currently face, they must further embrace their own entrepreneurship and ways they encourage it, to fulfil their important role in changing the foundations of society and the economy.

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

New EU rules ensure better protection for 120 million holidaymakers this summer

European Border and Coast Guard: 10 000-strong standing corps by 2027

Google succumbs unconditionally to EU’s “right to be forgotten” ruling

COVID-19 will hit the developing world’s cities hardest. Here’s why

Tributes for ‘role model’ former UN refugee agency chief, Sadako Ogata

The big five EU telecom operators in dire straights

AI can wreak havoc if left unchecked by humans

Clamp down on illegal trade in pets, urge Public Health Committee MEPs

As conflicts become more complex, ‘mediation is no longer an option; it is a necessity’, UN chief tells Security Council

We are ‘burning up our future’, UN’s Bachelet tells Human Rights Council

Hydrogen isn’t the fuel of the future. It’s already here

5 ways COVID-19 has changed workforce management

Terrorism and migrants: the two awful nightmares for Europe and Germany in 2016

EU job-search aid worth €2 million for 500 former shipbuilding workers in Spain

France pushes UK to stay and Germany to pay

Where EU air pollution is deadliest

China rare earth prices soar on their potential role in trade war

Harmonised Unemployment Rates (HURs), OECD – Updated: February 2020

UN spotlights wellbeing of seafarers on International Day

‘Much more’ can be done to raise awareness about the plight of persons with albinism: UN chief

UN-backed intercultural dialogue forum urged to keep working to ‘bridge gap between the like-minded’

EU joint response to disasters: deal reached with Council

Combatting terrorism: Parliament sets out proposals for a new EU strategy

This South Korean city once had the biggest coronavirus outbreak outside of China. Now it’s reported zero new cases

Commission moves to ensure supply of personal protective equipment in the European Union

5 crises that could worsen under COVID-19

Finland has just published everyone’s taxes on ‘National Jealousy Day’

ITU Telecom World 2017: exploring smart digital transformation

European Parliament calls on Russia to end occupation of Georgian territories

5 neuroscience hacks that will make you happier

RescEU: MEPs vote to upgrade EU civil protection capacity

All for equality – 2020 is a pivotal year for Gender Equality

Deeper reforms in Korea will ensure more inclusive and sustainable growth

UN Climate Action Summit concludes with insufficient EU and global pledges

Milk, fruits and vegetables distributed to schoolchildren thanks to EU programme

China’s cities are rapidly becoming more competitive. Here’s why

Security Council must ‘come together’ to address the plight of children trapped in armed conflict, says UN envoy

EU Migrant Crisis: Italian Coast Guard Headquarters and Italian Navy to give host national opening addresses at Border Security 2016 in Rome

New EU-UK agreement is welcome but thorough scrutiny remains, insist lead MEPs

Coal addiction ‘must be overcome’ to ease climate change, UN chief says in Bangkok

EU27 leaders unite on Brexit Guidelines ahead of “tough negotiations” with Theresa May

How to get young people in Europe to swipe right on voting

This is Amsterdam’s ambitious plan to turn its transport electric

Reforms in Latvia must result in stronger enforcement to tackle foreign bribery and subsequent money laundering risks

Parliament boosts consumer rights online and offline

What is systemic racism, and how can we combat it?

EU Council approves visa-free travel for Ukraine and cement ties with Kiev

Powering a climate-neutral economy: Commission sets out plans for the energy system of the future and clean hydrogen

Marginalized groups hit hardest by inequality and stigma in cities

OECD joins with Japan to fight financial crime by establishing new academy

The business case for diversity in the workplace is now overwhelming

EU Parliament and Council: Close to agreement on the bank resolution mechanism

Poor quality is healthcare’s silent killer. Here’s what we can do about it

ECB asks for more subsidies to banks

Global trade is broken. Here are five ways to rebuild it

Intervene, don’t overthink – the new mantra of systems design

We need natural solutions to fight ocean and climate risk

EU Parliament: No EU-US trade agreement without safe data

The MWC14 Sting Special Edition

Italy and Greece zeroed their fiscal deficits, expect Germany’s response

More Stings?

Advertising

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s