The Sloan School of Management has named Edward B. Roberts, the David Sarnoff Professor of Management of Technology, as chairman of the MIT Entrepreneurship Center.
Professor Roberts said the center will undertake major efforts to expand its full-time faculty, research agenda and student programs. He joins managing director Kenneth P. Morse, a senior lecturer at Sloan, in running the MIT-wide program.
"Our economy is based on change and newness," said Professor Roberts. "Economic growth and job creation in our country have come primarily from new companies. That's what makes entrepreneurship such an important field of study and student activity for us."
The Entrepreneurship Center was founded in 1991 in response to student requests for guidance in starting new businesses. Sloan's "New Enterprises" subject, which gives students the basics in starting a business, has been taught continuously at MIT since 1961, making MIT one of the earliest universities to teach entrepreneurship
In announcing the appointment, Sloan Dean Richard Schmalensee said, "Ed's academic work in this field is known around the world. His research and leadership in creating this area of expertise, as well as his hands-on experience in starting companies, led to the founding of the MIT Entrepreneurship Center. His book, Entrepreneurs and High Technology (Oxford University Press, 1991), based on 25 years of research at MIT, has become a bible for young entrepreneurs worldwide.
"He has the breadth of experience and knowledge to take the center and its curriculum to the next level. I am delighted he is taking the position and know that, together with Ken Morse, he will establish the MIT Entrepreneurship Center as the world leader in entrepreneurship studies and research."
Professor Roberts spearheaded the organization of the MIT Alumni Entrepreneurship Program in the 1960s, leading to the founding of the MIT Enterprise Forum and stimulating the formation of many new companies. In honor of his contributions to entrepreneurship, the Enterprise Forum inaugurated The Edward B. Roberts Young Entrepreneur Award for Distinguished Leadership. Michael Dell, founder and CEO of Dell Computers, was named the first recipient in 1998.
Professor Roberts's plans for the Entrepreneurship Center will focus on four areas: expanding the dedicated faculty and course offerings, broadening the research program, and increasing the already significant involvement of other MIT departments.
"We want to further support research such as Professor Scott Shane's current work on commercialization of MIT technology as well as Professor Simon Johnson's comparative studies of entrepreneurship in other countries," he said.
"The mission of the center is to teach entrepreneurs how to make high-tech start-up companies successful. To do so, we will build bridges across the various schools within MIT, where expertise in areas such as engineering and marketing can be pooled to create a curriculum that teaches technology and management," Professor Roberts said. "Today's high-tech managers need both skills, and there is no better place to learn them than at MIT."
"Ed is one of the leading people in the country studying entrepreneurship and working with entrepreneurs," said Alex d'Arbeloff, founder and chairman of Teradyne, Inc., chairman of the MIT Corporation and Sloan Entrepreneur-in-Residence. "We are very fortunate to have his commitment to the center."
"We've built significant momentum since the center was founded," said Mr. Morse. "With the addition of Ed to the management team, we should be able to recruit the top people we need to increase our programs. Ed's respected academic background and his position in the venture community especially will help move forward our research efforts and the development of new curricula."
Corporation members Michael M. Koerner (SB 1949) and Ronald A. Kurtz (SB 1954, SM) welcomed the appointment of Professor Roberts and the upcoming expansion of the Entrepreneurship Center. They have committed more than $5 million to entrepreneurship education at MIT by funding professorships, research and a fellowship.
"I'm delighted to learn of Ed's appointment as chairman," said Mr. Kurtz. "He and Ken will make a great team to launch the center's next phase of growth through recruiting, teaching and research."
A version of this article appeared in the March 17, 1999 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 43, Number 23).