Urban entrepreneurship expert offers her insights

Professor dt ogilvie discussed identity and engagement in a series of presentations focused on advancing Wellington and New Zealand's entrepreneurial ecologies

Stephen Cummings, dt ogilvie and Ian Williamson
Prof Stephen Cummings with Prof dt ogilvie and the Dean of Commerce Prof Ian O. Williamson

Students and other University stakeholders interested in entrepreneurship recently had the opportunity to meet with Professor dt ogilvie, the Distinguished Professor of Urban Entrepreneurship at Saunders College of Business at the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York, at a series of events co-hosted by Victoria Business School and VicLink.

Professor ogilvie is internationally renowned for advising universities and regions without large endowments or vast resources as to how they can facilitate greater innovation and entrepreneurship, and her presentations focused on advancing Victoria, Wellington and New Zealand's entrepreneurial ecologies.

She founded the Center for Urban Entrepreneurship & Economic Development (CUEED) at Rutgers Business School in Newark, New Jersey, and with her team has taken CUEED from nothing to helping Rutgers become one of America's top 10 Universities for entrepreneurship, ranked by Forbes alongside far more well-resourced institutions such as Harvard and MIT.

Describing Wellington as a city with "lots of great people and pieces and a great geography that could become an excellent entrepreneurial ecosystem", Professor ogilvie said the challenge is "to get all the pieces working together."

"Institutions in the ecosystem have to realise that they are not in competition—another good start-up helps grow the pie for everybody. And I think there is a lot of scope for the pie to grow in Wellington," she noted.

"One of the things that helped Austin become such a great ecosystem was that all the legal practices in the city got together and decided to offer free advice to any start up or new business.

"They recognised they were growing potential future revenue by doing so, or they would do it for a minimal equity share. Nobody wants to give bad or ambivalent advice to a business they have a stake in."

Professor ogilvie also had some thoughts about identity and engagement.

"Rutgers operates across three campuses, and one of the problems was that we kept referring to one as the 'main campus'. We stopped doing that, and it changed the way people thought and the way we operated.

"We built the centre at Rutgers with a three-point growth plan: growing research, growing education, and growing outreach to the community. Without reaching out to the local community and involving them, none of other things mean that much.

"You have to be in the news. If nobody reads about what you are doing then what’s the point? We became so successful that we were in newspaper almost as much as the local sports teams."