Top universities and entrepreneurship

I've been a bit behind with my reading and have only just got to an article in Business Week entitled Who Needs the Ivies which asks whether top universities (the 'Ivies' in the title - meaning the Ivy League universities in the US - which the author bundles with other powerhouses such as MIT and Stanford) discourage entrepreneurship by tending towards risk-aversion and the continuation of the status quo.

I find this interesting (partly because I was at Cambridge, Tom was at Warwick and Duncan was at Glasgow - each of which are great universities). We have entrepreneurial ambitions - and this isn't the first suggestion that our educations could potentially actually be a hindrance. I was struck while reading Rachel Bridge's book how I made it how many of the case studies were about people who hadn't been to university (many left school before A levels).

In some ways, there is a reporting bias at work here - sometimes the most interesting case studies are those where the subject has overcome particular difficulties.

I suspect that the truth is somewhat more complicated - I don't know whether higher education is an indicator of likely entrepreneurial success or not, but I do think that it is probably a smaller factor than a lot of other things.

Maybe it is rare to have a combination of entrepreneurial drive and the kind of analytical approach to things that gets you a degree in computer science or maths from a top university. But I guess what we are hoping is that we have that combination, and that when it happens, it's really powerful.

Here's hoping.

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About the author
Will Critchlow

Will Critchlow

Will founded Distilled with Duncan in 2005. Since then, he has consulted with some of the world’s largest organisations and most famous websites, spoken at most major industry events and regularly appeared in local and national press. For the...   read more