While pockets of entrepreneurial activity exist on the MUSC campus, we aim to increase the encouragement, incentive, recognition, and coordination for such activity. For entrepreneurial endeavors to be successful, a cultural change at every level is needed. Leaders should be encouraged to recruit individuals with an entrepreneurial spirit and know-how. Incentives should be created across campus that encourage and reward entrepreneurial activities. Recognition of achievement should lead to advancement of individuals and further investment in successful programs and the people who lead these activities.
Entrepreneurial activities bring nontraditional economic resources and visibility to MUSC, contribute to the public welfare in South Carolina and beyond, and are tangible demonstrations of the successful application of University research to health care needs. Therefore, we will seek to establish a culture that celebrates successful entrepreneurialism. Scholarship is an essential component of the mission of the faculty of MUSC, and entrepreneurial activities often are mechanisms to generate and disseminate knowledge. To promote such activities among our faculty, entrepreneurial activities in which biomedical innovation leads to effective technology transfer should be recognized as forms of scholarly activity in tenure and promotion processes. Similarly, for non-faculty members of the MUSC community, entrepreneurialism will be considered as a criterion for performance evaluation.
The intersection of disciplines often provides the greatest opportunity for innovation. Furthermore, entrepreneurial success typically comes from a diverse interdisciplinary team. Therefore, fostering collaborations across disciplines is critical to achieving maximum productivity from an entrepreneurial culture. Within MUSC, collaborations across disciplines provide vital cross-pollination of ideas, stimulating the identification of problems and the discovery of their solutions. Examples include the partnering of the clinician with the basic scientist or the integration of engineers into life science research teams. Equally important are collaborations outside MUSC across diverse disciplines. Entrepreneurial success at MUSC will be greatly enhanced by facilitating interactions with industry and the business community, particularly with entrepreneurs who can infuse commercialization concepts and skills into the life science disciplines.
By nature, our environment attracts creative minds who have chosen their career paths and received their training to alleviate human ailments and suffering. Accordingly, many members of our community are less versed in entrepreneurialism. Many great ideas that hold potential for commercialization go unrealized. The creation of a Center for Medical Innovation and Entrepreneurialism will close this gap and facilitate the translation of innovative ideas to the marketplace by providing counsel, know-how, and support for harnessing our community’s ingenuity.
A leader to head this center is likely to have entrepreneurial center experience with a track record of success. This leader will build the center’s infrastructure by leveraging existing personnel and programs on campus and within the community while recruiting new talent where necessary. The leader will develop the center’s business plan with MUSC and community leadership to promote a cultural change on campus and foster a collaborative environment with partners throughout the state and beyond. The center’s leader will coordinate services on campus while designing and implementing entrepreneurship education programs.
Classically trained health care providers and biomedical scientists will benefit from learning how to apply their skills to entrepreneurial activity. Through seminars and organized mentorship programs, both internal and external, the center will develop expertise in areas such as patent application, technology transfer, and fund raising. Leaders should consider hiring entrepreneurs-in-residence. MUSC will also leverage talented and successful business leaders both within and outside the University who could impart their knowledge to fledgling entrepreneurs at MUSC.
Capitalization of knowledge will come through strategic partnerships with peer academic organizations, for-profit and nonprofit organizations, and government. Traditional partnerships with complementary academic institutions within the state are clearly necessary. These academic partnerships can leverage our collective resources and avoid unnecessary duplication, but alone they are not sufficient to transform MUSC into an entrepreneurial university.