Wondering what veterans have to do with academic intrapreneurship? Simple, veterans and families, programs to support them, curricular development, evaluation outcomes, and more are all part of the intrapreneurial endeavor. I’d been in an academic institution since 1999, 16 years, dedicating my career to creating programs and projects in universities. (I have a new role in Student Veterans of America working with hundreds of universities, and with SVA chapters), I’d always been on “soft money” – that is, a job without a future unless we could raise the funds to pay the salaries and project costs year-after-year. Almost the opposite of tenure, I’ve had to earn our place each year both with the university and with funders. Some people worry about that, but not me. I love the idea of generating new ideas worth funding. I also like the intrapreneurship aspect – I don’t have to focus on cash flow and back office operations as some small businesses do because doing innovation in the context of a larger organization provides those shared services (for a cost) and experts who implement the services.
I think that may be why I like the idea of incubators and accelerators – they can allow you to focus on the core of the business instead of the necessary supports. The same with shared office space, like PivotDesk, or co-working spaces like those featured in the NYTimes article Co-working on Vacation: A desk in paradise! For me, the academic environment, with sponsored programs or sponsored research offices, sponsored accounting, procurement cards, travel supports, and IT infrastructure are ideal to pursue intrapreneurial ventures. It might not have the explosive growth potential of some startup environments, or the financial upside of stock options, but it provides an outstanding opportunity to innovate for stakeholders and create opportunities that might not be able to come to fruition outside of a university. How many places have hundreds of subject matter experts with deep expertise like universities? People who can focus on their passions for particular areas while partnering with others pursuing their passions and create novel approaches to societal challenges while teaching and training the next generation of experts? Veteran and family entrepreneurship, careers, education, and community integration have provided great platforms for innovating and creating for me.
What opportunities have you had in your university for intrapreneurship? What opportunities will you create?
A version of this post originally appeared at http://www.jamesschmeling.com/veterans-and-academic-intrapreneurship-what/