Babson College professor Heidi Neck has trained 2,500+ of her fellow entrepreneurship educators. One thing she’s learned? “Entrepreneurship education cannot be done one way only, or done alone. We need community and collaboration.”
So in 2016, born out of the need for intentional connection, Neck and her Babson College colleagues created the Babson Collaborative for Entrepreneurship Education. Today, the institutional membership organization is thriving.
The Collaborative, which is part of the Babson Academy, was built to achieve three foundational goals. First, to share Babson’s approach to entrepreneurship education with others. Second, to inspire students to think and act more entrepreneurially. Finally, Neck and her colleagues wanted the Collaborative to be a convener, creating opportunities to connect with other entrepreneurship educators virtually, in person, professionally, and informally.
Although the Collaborative is relatively new, enthusiasm among its members runs strong. United by the belief that institutions acting together achieve more toward an entrepreneurial mission and goals than each working alone, these 29 institutions from 21 countries – and counting – have made meaningful connections.
Growing the Babson Collaborative
As the Collaborative community grows, new members bring new ideas to the group, enriching the conversation and forging new partnerships.
Universidad Camilo José Cela (UCJC) in Madrid, Spain is the newest Babson Collaborative member. UCJC is the first university in Spain to offer a degree in entrepreneurship, and has found a network of kindred spirits among Babson Collaborative members.
“Passion is the fuel that entrepreneurs need to keep going, and we are excited to be part of the Babson Collaborative community where passion is absolutely key,” said Camila Polensvaig Kominsky, Director of the degree in Entrepreneurship and Business Management at UCJC.
Connecting Across Cultures
For many Collaborative members, easily being able to connect with peers to share academic materials like syllabi and case readings, solicit co-authors and reviewers, and collaborate on research is extremely valuable.
Helena Bouza, who is the head of international relations at EDEM Escuela de Empresarios in Spain, points to exchange agreements she’s developed thanks to the Babson Collaborative. Those relationships include current and past Collaborative members, including Universidad del Desarrollo in Chile, Tecnologico de Monterrey in Mexico, Xiamen University in China, and Ulster University in the U.K.
As the Collaborative grows, a number of programs, events and resources keep members connected. One event is the annual Global Summit, most recently hosted by The American University in Cairo (AUC) in 2019. Summit attendees shared ideas, learned about the AUC and local Cairo entrepreneurship ecosystems, and enjoyed a cultural excursion to the Giza pyramid complex along with time to socialize.
Students roll up their sleeves for Collaborative programs too. One example is the annual Global Student Challenge, which this year involved 637 students from 16 member institutions in 12 countries. The competition challenges teams to think of sustainability goals in the context of business opportunities.
From a sustainable leather alternative made from grape marc and biopolymers, to a new ecological construction block meant to transform the traditional construction system, this year’s competition winners impressed the judges with their creativity and the caliber of their presentations.
The Power of Peer to Peer Collaboration
Ultimately, the power of the Babson Collaborative lies with its members. For those teaching entrepreneurship, nobody else can amplify ideas, problem-solve challenges, and celebrate successes better than entrepreneurship educator peers.
Members stay connected through the Collaborative WhatsApp community, where they exchange articles and videos, conduct benchmarking polls, share conferences and events, seek collaborators, and informally stay in touch. The Collaborative member portal is home to an academic content library, webinars, and detailed information on a range of special projects.
This year, virtual connection has been more important than ever. “During the pandemic, it has been very rewarding to see engagement and support among members increase in so many meaningful ways,” says Jamie Kendrioski, Director, Babson Collaborative.
“Members have come together to collectively generate solutions around how to deliver entrepreneurship education online, and have eagerly shared expertise and experiences, deepening ties with fellow educators.”
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