Originally posted on Forbes by Ashoka

Entrepreneurs-in-residence are successful businesspeople – and sometimes prominent members of the nonprofit world – who dedicate a specific amount of time doing research or pursuing other academic pursuits, primarily on campus or at locales associated with an academic institution.

The entrepreneur-in-residence will often wear many hats at a university. These professionals may take on the role of in-class lecturer, mentor student startups on campus, serve as a coach to entrepreneurs, judge business plan competitions and serve on advisory boards. Some universities will have their entrepreneur-in-residence support community outreach initiatives by advising small business owners and working with local high school students on special projects.

These talented men and women bring real-world expertise and entrepreneurial practice to students and academia, enhancing the business theoretical framework taught on campuses across the world.

Simply put, entrepreneurs-in-residence help expand and validate the theoretical knowledge taught on campuses by illustrating it with practical tips and everyday business guidance by sharing their real-world stories.

Teacher BHodge

Teacher BHodge (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here are our top 10 reasons why universities need entrepreneurs-in-residence on campus:

1. Curricular Diversity

Entrepreneurs-in-residence help expand a university’s curriculum, showing academia why inserting, say, a specific subject into the coursework would broaden students’ views and add value to the learning process. For example, an entrepreneur with Silicon Valley insight can suggest that a college dean add a course on the hyper-scalability of startups, given that the subject has attracted significant interest from angel investors in the last few years.

2. Higher Student Interaction

It’s a no-brainer that entrepreneurs-in-residence who conduct research or teach on campus interact more frequently with students than those operating from far-flung locales. John Liddy, the Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Syracuse University’s Student Sandbox, believes that at the end of the day, business and entrepreneurship are human experiences, and having entrepreneurs on campus enhances that human dimension. Plus, students can easily emulate the best practices that these talented businesspeople display in their work, research or teaching.

3. Hands-on Teaching

According to D. Bernard Webster, Entrepreneur-in-Residence at NYIT’s Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, hands-on teaching is a pivotal element in an entrepreneur-in-residence program. In a modern world in which business practices are changing by the day and companies must adapt or die, it becomes necessary for students to have access to the latest research and thinking available to business executives.

The good news is, entrepreneurs-in-residence provide that sort of hands-on knowledge because they use it every day in their business, social or branding activities.

4. Institutional Clout

A university or college can significantly enhance its academic clout by having high-caliber, world-class entrepreneurs on campus. Chuck Sacco, Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Drexel University’s Charles D. Close School of Entrepreneurship believes that the presence of such luminaries on academic premises triggers a series of benefits ranging from academic interest from other institutions, to increased alumni passion, to brand enhancement, to increased student enrollment. Think, for example, of the institutional clout and marketing bonanza that a Richard Branson’s entrepreneur-in-residence program can generate for the hosting university or college.

5. Advanced Research

Entrepreneurs-in-residence often possess expertise not available in the academic world. Dr. Craig Watters an Endowed Entrepreneurship Professor at OSU’s Riata Center for Entrepreneurship points out the various elements that explain this phenomenon, from lack of research funding to differences in academic goals a specific institution wants to pursue.

Although they sometimes partner with universities, multinationals such as General Electric and Pfizer have separate, in-house world-class labs and R&D facilities that are more sophisticated than your typical college research lab. So having, for instance, an entrepreneur-in-residence from a top business can greatly enhance the level of research conducted at the academic institution.

6. Brand Enhancement

Prominent businesspeople working on campus help enhance the hosting institution’s brand. The fact is, these sophisticated individuals attract the eyes – and cameras – of top journalists and media companies, most of which have dedicated teams that cover the successful innovators on a 24/7 basis…literally.

Therefore, an institution hosting a business star on campus stands to benefit from the collateral marketing bonanza the entrepreneur generates.

7. Fundraising Opportunities

Universities that have strong entrepreneurs-in-residence programs tend to draw alumni interest, especially if the entrepreneur possesses unique expertise in a competitive field or is a sought-out, charismatic speaker.

No wonder top-tier alma maters like Harvard, Columbia and Stanford have seen their endowment funds go up whenever they introduce entrepreneur-in-residence programs featuring strong personalities and charismatic figures in the worlds of finance, business, economics and social activism.

Passionate alumni not only tend to contribute more to their alma mater’s endowment fund and general operating fund, they also tend to spread the world around the program – a powerful combo that replenishes the university’s coffers but also heightens student enrollment.

8. One-on-One Student Coaching

Dr. Darrell Burrell an Entrepreneur Professor and Site Director at FIT believe that students learn quicker and more effectively when they interact with world-class entrepreneurs who provide advice on specific topics, helping learners connect the dots between theoretical knowledge and real-world experience.

What is more, entrepreneurs-in-residence can commit more time to one-on-one student coaching, a practice that enhances the pedagogic experience for the student and the entrepreneur alike. For example, a student and an entrepreneur can engage in a win-win scenario in which the student provides feedback on, say, an app the entrepreneur is developing, while the entrepreneur provides guidance on how to run a startup, from fundraising to payroll management to business development.

9. Collateral Economic Benefits

A university can derive a direct or indirect economic benefit from the activities of one or more entrepreneurs-in-residence working and conducting research on campus. If, for example, the academic institution makes its research facilities available to an entrepreneur-in-residence – or have some faculty members work on related projects – it can make extra cash if the entrepreneur develops a product or service that subsequently becomes a blockbuster.

10. Global Clout

When a foreign entrepreneur-in-residence works, teaches and/or conducts research on campus, the hosting institution gains in international visibility – which may translate into higher foreign student enrollment. The university also broadens its brand appeal into new, and maybe untapped, markets at home or overseas.