No One Knows as Much as Everyone

Global conference stresses collaboration as key to successful ventures

“Entrepreneurs can create a world they want to live in,” but there’s only one world to share, so collaboration is the path to entrepreneurial success.

That was the overarching takeaway from the two-day Global Consortium of Entrepreneurship Centers Conference that was recently held at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

More than 240 representatives discussed best practices for creating the entrepreneurial experience. They were from universities that included Harvard, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Kwansei Gakuin University in Japan, Australian Graduate School of Entrepreneurship and the Universitas Ciputra in Indonesia, the world’s only university devoted entirely to entrepreneurship.

The direct quote above was spoken by John Norton, managing director of the Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at UMKC’s Henry W. Bloch School of Management, host center for the event. The broader theme of collaboration, fittingly, was shared by many during workshops throughout the conference.

“No Shortcuts: The Entrepreneurial Life of Henry Bloch” packed the room as visitors listened intently to the story of Bloch, the namesake of the Bloch School and benefactor of the Henry W. Bloch Executive Hall where the GCEC conference was held.

“When I started, the word ‘entrepreneur’ wasn’t around,” said Henry Bloch. “I knew I wanted to help people and knew that I didn’t want to work for anyone.”

In 1955, Henry and his brother, Richard, created the tax preparation industry to provide a service for people in Kansas City; it grew into a worldwide enterprise.

Together they learned how to create a successful business, which translated into Henry’s ongoing desire to encourage teamwork, creativity and entrepreneurship.

The Bloch Executive Hall was created using two themes:  “The path of innovation is never a straight line” – the statement Teng-Kee Tan, dean of the Bloch School, used when discussing the proposed building. It was instrumental in the collaborative approach used in designing the building.

The other statement, “no one knows as much as everyone,” was used in meetings between members of the architect/design/construction team – Bloch leadership and faculty; architects from BNIM and Moore Ruble Yudell; and JE Dunn Construction. Posted on a whiteboard, this served as a reminder that everyone brings value and all those involved bring credible ideas.

“Partnering for Cures: Breast Cancer Startup Challenge” presented by Rosemarie Truman, founder and CEO of the Center for Advancing Innovation, created a buzz when she issued a challenge for student and entrepreneur teams to launch a biotech start-up venture based on breast cancer research discoveries.

“This is a new model of venture philanthropy as the Avon Foundation is funding the Challenge and is the first therapeutically-focused foundation to provide grants to push forward research in a start-up challenge,” said Truman.

The goal is to have 100 teams, which must include three university students; UMKC also will enter a team into the challenge. In the end, the organizations will support three startups and provide licensing agreements and seed funding.

The role of Truman’s center is to accelerate and increase the volume of technology transfer and commercialization in support of entrepreneurship learning and economic growth.

The Bloch Executive Hall held its grand opening on Aug. 27 – designed to inspire team learning and idea sharing for an optimal experiential learning environment. It was the perfect venue for a conference that has the same purpose.


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