Rice researcher awarded $1.5M from Kauffman Foundation to study effects of entrepreneurship education

Rice researcher awarded $1.5M from Kauffman Foundation to study effects of entrepreneurship education

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A leading researcher at Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Business has received a $1.5 million grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation to study the effects of entrepreneurship education on entrepreneurial success. The five-year project will work with leading startup support organizations in the United States to track the outcomes of a group of startups receiving a free, concentrated entrepreneurship curriculum.

“Many resources are thought to feed into entrepreneurial success, including technical knowledge, business acumen, professional and entrepreneurial networks and market conditions,” said Yael Hochberg, the Ralph S. O’Connor Associate Professor of Finance and Entrepreneurship at the Jones School. “However, very little evidence exists to support the notion that business acumen and education accelerate startup success. We believe our study will help develop sharp inferences that will contribute to our current understanding of factors contributing to entrepreneurial success.”

Hochberg, who is considered one of the foremost experts on accelerator programs and serves as managing director of the annual Seed Accelerator Rankings Project, is the grant’s principal investigator. This month she received the 2016 Ewing Marion Kauffman Prize Medal for Distinguished Research in Entrepreneurship. The medal, which includes a $50,000 prize, is awarded annually to recognize a scholar early in his or her career as an associate or full professor whose research has made a significant contribution to entrepreneurship. Prior recipients of this award are at some of the most highly regarded universities in the U.S.

“The Kauffman Foundation is widely recognized as the leading independent philanthropic foundation supporting entrepreneurship research and education,” said Jones School Dean Bill Glick. “Its award for Yael Hochberg and financial support for this research provide further validation of the impact and prominence of Rice’s scholarship in entrepreneurship, and we are very grateful to the foundation.”

The last decade has seen the proliferation of new types of programs, such as accelerators (fixed-term, cohort-based programs with an educational and mentorship component that culminate in a pitch event), and the re-emergence and growth of incubators and entrepreneurship and innovation-focused co-working facilities, Hochberg said. These approaches have been adopted not only by private investors, but also by regional development agencies and policymakers and by corporations around the world.

“Our research agenda aims to explore these new institutions and their features, and to answer a number of fundamental questions about their nature and efficacy,” Hochberg said.

“We expect the results of our study to be of considerable interest to many groups, including accelerators, incubators, local governments considering entrepreneurship education programs and educational institutions,” she said.

“Professor Hochberg’s approach goes well beyond the standard at most universities today,” said Rice University Provost Marie Lynn Miranda. “While many are offering activities around entrepreneurship, Yael is establishing the evidence basis for what actually works in activating the entrepreneurial capabilities of students – and in so doing, building a more robust program for students.”

Other key team members of the grant’s research team are Eric Floyd, an assistant professor of accounting at the Jones School, and Daniel Fehder, a Ph.D. student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management.

Hochberg is also head of the Rice Entrepreneurship Initiative, a cross-disciplinary initiative to provide students from across the university with skills and knowledge to succeed in a world where entrepreneurial capabilities are increasingly critical for meaningful and influential careers.

Based in Kansas City, Mo., the Kauffman Foundation provides educational resources for U.S. entrepreneurs, works to accelerate metro-area entrepreneurship hubs and helps supporting organizations that assist entrepreneurs. The foundation also works to advance entrepreneurship by providing research-based knowledge to entrepreneurs, policymakers and others. In addition, it aims to foster economic independence by advancing youth educational achievement.

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