Advancing Entrepreneurship: the pivotal role our donors play

Advancing Entrepreneurship: the pivotal role our donors play

Over a number of years, INSEAD’s entrepreneurship area has attracted the confidence and generosity of many donors. INSEAD’s strides in this area would not have been possible without the support of our alumni, as well as that of like-minded corporations.  For over two decades their trust and financial help have vastly impacted the growth of Entrepreneurship at INSEAD, and enabled the school to transform it into a pillar of the school’s reputation.

Donors have supported entrepreneurship in ways that are almost as varied as the many entrepreneurial ventures that have been started by the school’s alumni.  They have directed their gifts to teaching, research, student experience and facilities and have chosen a range of ways to give including the endowment, in current funds and through legacy gifts. Perhaps it’s not surprising that most of those who have chosen to give to this area are entrepreneurs themselves. As such, there is a sense of ‘paying it forward’, where successful alumni help up-and-coming young entrepreneurs who face the same challenges as they once did.

One of the first gifts to this area was in 1992, when a number of alumni with a passion for entrepreneurship came together to raise the necessary funds to ensure that one Professor would always hold a Chair in this area, leading to the creation of The INSEAD Alumni Fund Chair for Entrepreneurship. Today, this Chair is held by Professor Phil Anderson, the present Director of the Entrepreneurship Centre. The area of research was further boosted in 2004, when a significant gift from Peer Kolendorf, MBA’78, led to the establishment of the Kolendorf Research Fund in Entrepreneurship, which existed until 2008.

It is the leadership donation from Rudolf Maag, MBA’73, and his wife Valeria, made in 2005 and further strengthened in 2010, that many view as being the most powerful catalyst in making entrepreneurship a core strength at INSEAD. The endowed gift from the couple led to the establishment of the Rudolf and Valeria Maag INSEAD Centre for Entrepreneurship (ICE) and enabled a strong investment in INSEAD’s capabilities to deliver innovative programmes. These programmes triggered an expanded portfolio of MBA electives – 18 in number today – as well as bootcamps, accelerator programmes, entrepreneurs-in-residence, business venture competitions, global forums and more. Indeed, many a successful alumni business venture started at ICE.

Rudolf and Valeria’s gift acted as a powerful impetus to others, and fellow alumni not only gave generously themselves but equally helped to secure support from corporate partners and foundations. One area that has seen significant development thanks to donor gifts is social entrepreneurship. The founding gift from Andy Burgess, MBA’91D, deserves special mention in this respect. Also in 2005, Andy set up the Andy Burgess Endowed Scholarship for Social Entrepreneurship which supports candidates with a commitment to social entrepreneurship to study at INSEAD each year. The highly successful INSEAD Social Entrepreneurship Programme has flourished thanks to support from Gabriele Quandt, MBA’85J, the Banesto Foundation, Waleed Albanawi, AMP’05Oct,  and non-alumni who are passionate about social entrepreneurship such as Stephen Brenninkmeijer. Other notable supporters of social entrepreneurship activities in recent years have been Chris Broad, MBA’88D, and the Apax Foundation.

Donors have also had an influence on course innovation. In 2009, Andy Phillipps, MBA’99J, and Timothy Bovard, MBA’89J, created the Entrepreneurship Teaching Innovation Fund. This fund helped to build one of INSEAD’s most innovative MBA courses – ‘Your First Hundred Days’ – a real-time role play on acquiring and managing a company, which has become tremendously successful and is one of the most popular electives – today it’s followed by 75% of the school’s MBA students and is set to become a Capstone course in the new curriculum year. The fund also allowed the school to recruit a full-time research associate dedicated to reviewing and developing teaching materials for entrepreneurship programmes. This benefitted all of the school’s entrepreneurship courses and programmes through the development of new materials without the constant need to find resources or time restrictions, and has resulted in a number of award-winning cases.

A dedicated space for entrepreneurship activities and networking was made possible thanks to a donation from Accenture.  A strong supporter of INSEAD, Accenture was inspired to generously give to the school thanks to the efforts, once again, of Timothy Bovard and Alexandre Paternotte de La Vaillee, MBA’13J. Accenture’s gift established MEWS, a collaborative workspace on the Fontainebleau campus, a facility accessible exclusively to students and recent graduates working on entrepreneurial projects or ventures.

Advancing Entrepreneurship: the pivotal role our donors play The INSEAD Venture Competition, a highlight in student experience and learning, has moved from strength to strength thanks to donor support.  More than 400 donors came together to honour the memory of their beloved Professor of Entrepreneurship, Patrick Turner, an alumnus himself from the Class of MBA’78, by creating and endowing  The Patrick Turner MBA’78 Prize. This competition will continue to celebrate Patrick’s impact in the classroom and guidance in the many ventures he helped to initiate.

INSEAD donors have also chosen to support the school’s entrepreneurship activities through legacy gifts. When alumnus and entrepreneur Avery Juhring, MBA’67, passed away in March 2010, he left a substantial gift for the INSEAD Entrepreneurship Centre, which was invested into an endowed fund for the Centre by the school.

Going forward, INSEAD wants to bring entrepreneurship to the next level, by investing further in this robust area.  Areas of particular focus include funding for teaching, venture competitions, and expanding on the school’s knowledge though support for research and development in entrepreneurship.

“Innovation is possible only through investment. Without this, it would be impossible to do what we are doing today in terms of entrepreneurship,” says Dean of INSEAD, Professor Ilian Mihov, “Thank you to every one of our donors who has supported this important area in many ways over the years, and to those who continue to give today. As our school continues to grow and develop, we invite all of those who are passionate about entrepreneurship to consider being part of this growing donor community.”

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