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Two Business School academics were recently listed in Hot Topic’s 100 leading professors in the field of entrepreneurship. Professor Bart Clarysse and Professor Erkko Autio were among the top 100, and were nominated by the publication’s community of tech executives, entrepreneurs and investors. The nominees had to meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • Have worked within a Tier 1 university or business school
  • Have helped shape the direction of formal entrepreneurship learning globally
  • Have had articles of significant impact around the subject of entrepreneurship published in academic journals

 Following Professor Bart Clarysse and Professor Erkko Autio’s recognition as leading professors in their field, we asked them for their thoughts on what makes a great entrepreneur and how they are driving innovation in the classroom.

What qualities do you think are important for aspiring entrepreneurs to have?
Bart Clarysse (BC)
: Aspiring entrepreneurs need to be willing to manage uncertainty in a different way. They need to act intuitively, be willing to get exposed to some risk but limit the risk by avoiding large scale investments upfront.

Erkko Autio (EA): Persistence, passion, openness to change, imagination. Persistence because it always takes longer and is more difficult than you can imagine. Passion because it is difficult to persist without. Openness to change because your first idea always turns out to be unviable. Imagination because you have to see opportunities where others can’t.

What research are you currently working on?
 [I am working on] two streams of research:
Firstly, how do technology entrepreneurs, after founding a venture, search for the optimal connection between markets and technologies? Sometimes that means that they have to search for new technologies. Sometimes it means that they have to search for superior market applications for their technology. Different founder personalities, different experiential backgrounds, etc have a different impact on the success of undertaking such search activities.
Secondly, how do ‘individual level’ attributes such as passion and social identity (the in-group which entrepreneurs identify themselves with — eg academics instead of entrepreneurs) determine the different choices they make?

EA: There are three major motivations for my research. First, entrepreneurship matters – but only if is of the right quality. Second, digitisation changes everything, and new paradigms are needed in entrepreneurship. Third, context has a huge effect on when and how entrepreneurial action can add to societal and economic welfare.
My projects include: Two indices: Global Entrepreneurship Index (GEI), and an index of digital life. One policy-oriented project: how to manage entrepreneurial ecosystems. One innovation project: how to drive and leverage innovation ecosystems. One internationalisation project: how to drive new venture internationalisation. One entrepreneurship project: how context influences entrepreneurial behaviours. One productivity project: how entrepreneurship drives productivity.

How do you drive innovation in the lecture theatre?
 Entrepreneurship is about doing things, so much of my teaching is action oriented. They have to develop a business case, find ideas and I serve as a facilitator to that process. Real case experience rather than artificial teaching cases.

EA: You have to emphasise learning by doing and get students to work on projects. There are theories and frameworks, but what really matters in entrepreneurship is how to put them into practice.

How important are entrepreneurs to our economy?
 Entrepreneurs are important to rejuvenate the economy and might introduce economic growth if they export products or services. Much entrepreneurialism is endogenous though and reflects the economic situation instead of leading to an improvement. Only innovative entrepreneurs escape that. They are the real sources of economic prosperity.

EA: Very. Entrepreneurs perceive opportunities, but the only way to validate them is to pursue them. If the opportunity is real, you stick with it because you can make more money with the opportunity than doing something else. If the opportunity is not real, you soon realise you could make more money doing something else, so you go do something else. The net outcome of such choices is allocation of resources towards productive uses, which drives total factor productivity – i.e., the economy’s ability to create new wealth.

You can learn more about the Professors By following the below links:

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