How entrepreneurship permeates everything in Cambridge (video)

This video was created for the Cambridge Judge Virtual Experience Day, which took place on 15 October 2020.  The event was held via live stream to allow prospective students to experience what Cambridge Judge Business School has to offer.

Jeremy Hutchison-Krupat introduces himself and discusses how entrepreneurship is an overarching topic at Cambridge Judge Business School.

Video transcript

Hi, I’m Jeremy Hutchison-Krupat, I’m a faculty member at Cambridge Judge Business School in the Operations and Technology Management area. I joined Judge in 2018, and I have been involved in teaching a number of degree programmes. I teach entrepreneurship and innovation in the Masters in Entrepreneurship, MPhil for Technology Policy, MBA and the Executive MBA.

In addition, I teach entrepreneurship education in non-degree programmes such as for nascent entrepreneurs, SMEs and large corporates, in private and public sectors. Most of the programmes are offered through Executive Education or centres such as the Entrepreneurship Centre. All of these activities really help keep me grounded.

In addition to the teaching, I’m also the director for the Masters in Entrepreneurship, and I co-direct the Entrepreneurship Centre.

So if we think about it for a second, this is just my portfolio of activities that tap into entrepreneurship. And you can already start to see that the broad set of things that we do. To me, this was an important factor that attracted me to come to Judge, because it allows me to keep a finger on the pulse of entrepreneurship, to figure out what is going on, what are the pains and challenges.

This, to me, is Judge, when we talk about entrepreneurship, and that’s what I want to talk about today.

I’m not going to talk about entrepreneurship within a specific programme, or my research or a specific discipline, but how entrepreneurship permeates everything that goes on at Cambridge Judge Business School.

To try and frame the discussion, I want to talk about:

  • Who gets involved in entrepreneurship?
  • What are we even talking about when we talk about entrepreneurship, what are the activities?
  • How do we go about it, and how does it permeate everything that we do?
  • Lastly, I want to touch on what is the context in which entrepreneurship takes place at Cambridge Judge Business School.

Who is involved in entrepreneurship at Cambridge Judge Business School

Let me begin the talk by talking about the Who.

Naturally, faculty are a big part of entrepreneurship here. It’s the research that we do.  But there is something important in that: it’s partly the fact that at Judge, there is not just one entrepreneurship subject group. As I mentioned, I am part of the Operations and Technology Management group, and I work in the entrepreneurship and innovation.

But there is also across every single subject group – whether it’s information systems, marketing, organisational theory, organisational behaviour, economy, accounting – every single subject group has people, who are involved in entrepreneurship, research and teaching.

And this is really something special because when you think about it, every organisation is going to have some dialogue that bonds people together. Especially when you think about academics, they are people who attach meaning to every word or phrase, and we get very narrowly focussed.

In the Judge, entrepreneurship is one of those things that is a common ground. If we are at the cafe grabbing coffee – or at the proverbial watercooler – entrepreneurship is always the one area that we can all come together and discuss. And this is something that is really special, and something that attracted me here. And since I have been here, it is what I have really grown to value and recognise. 

Beyond faculty, there are the students. No matter what programme you look at, no matter what school, students are obviously an integral part of what makes the programme itself, what defines the school and the programme.

Any business school is going to have entrepreneurial students. Here, and I say this a lot in discussions, all programmes will have students that are interested in entrepreneurship.  What really defines different programmes, is what degree or what percentage of the student body are entrepreneurs.

But across all programmes, we have students that are interested in entrepreneurship. And sometimes students might not come in interested in the subject. But just because of Cambridge and the school, the University and the cluster that we operate within, it’s pretty hard not to be exposed to entrepreneurship to some degree.

Beyond the faculty, beyond the students, we then go out to the broader community. But by that, I mean broader within Judge.

So there is the Centre for Social Innovation, and there is the Entrepreneurship Centre, for example. Outside of the centres and the school, we start to get broader within the university environment. In the University, we have different colleges that get involved, different student societies, PHDs and postdocs. And outside of that, there is the broader Cambridge cluster. Within the Cambridge cluster, we have different maker spaces. So everything that defines Cambridge has the same entrepreneurial spirit that permeates. 

There is one take away from the who: it is hard to be in Cambridge and not be a part of entrepreneurship or to be exposed to entrepreneurship.

What are the entrepreneurial activities in Cambridge

Now let’s talk about the what of entrepreneurship.

I have already eluded a little bit that it is naturally the research and the teaching. But it’s more than the fact that there is research and teaching on entrepreneurship. When we come to teaching at Judge, I often say it’s a very credible signal of how important it is, that we have core courses in many of our programmes on entrepreneurship and innovation. This is not found everywhere.

Our executive MBA has core courses on entrepreneurship and innovation in it. Naturally, entrepreneurship programmes will have that, but the EMBA and MBA have this too. 

This is also true in research. I mentioned that entrepreneurship is this common ground. But we also see this in the research sets conducted.

For example, there is a colleague of mine in the operations area, who is working on a research paper with another colleague, who has a background in archaeology. And the two of them are working together looking at how nascent entrepreneurs pivot – and how early to they pivot – and how do they respond to signals from the market. And this is using a dataset of entrepreneurs from the Accelerator programme within our entrepreneurship centre.

That to me is an excellent example of the different disciplines, like the ventures in the Entrepreneurship Centre, which are coming from the broader community, all coming together to generate a nice piece of research.

Then when we talk about “What” it’s not just research and teaching.

There is a tremendous amount of activity going on in the school and the broader University.  This is everything from student-led groups, so the Cambridge University entrepreneurs to CUTEC. Or it could be programmes coming out of the entrepreneurship centre, for example, Enterprise Tech, Enterprise women, Enterprise Tuesday, where you have speakers coming in, entrepreneurs talking on a themed event for the night. Or even college activities, it could be Churchill Enterprise, Downing Enterprise, Fitzwilliam, or Hughes Hall, and Pembrook College all of these are different activities – sometimes overwhelming to be honest – in terms of the amounts of activity that’s out there.

But this is another example, where I refer to our students as being entrepreneurial.  Part of the entrepreneurial spirit is, there is so much out there to access and to get involved in, you have to take the initiative and go and find out what it is you like. Go and meet people, go and talk to them, experiment, listen, ask questions. And Cambridge is the place where you can do this.

It’s really hard living in Cambridge and go anywhere and not run into someone, with whom you are going to have a conversation on entrepreneurship. This is the case because once we get outside the University, naturally Cambridge is known for many discoveries, for example in genome, we also have corporate headquarters of ARM, Astra Zeneca, research centres from Amazon, Microsoft, Samsung. I go to football games with my son, and it’s hard not to run into parents that are going to start a conversation on what is going on in some entrepreneurial venture. 

All of this is to say, entrepreneurial activity is just a part of who we are and what we do in Judge but also in the University and in Cambridge, and that really makes it special.

How is entrepreneurial activity executed in Cambridge

I now want to shift to the How.

These are all building on each other. But the focus of how isn’t just how we do research or how we teach.

But it’s important to recognise that, when we talk about entrepreneurship, it’s really how we do things at Judge. And I think this is best put into context with a story of a recent session I was doing a few weeks back. Because when you think about it, the covid pandemic in many ways has revealed just how entrepreneurial our community is in terms of how we do things.

Naturally, the fact that we have to the experience day today through a video link, it shows everyone had to adapt in this forced experiment. But during a session, I was giving a few weeks back – it was at the end of the week –  and we were reflecting on how the week had been.

Naturally, the students had a number of comments on the content of the courses and how good it was to hear from entrepreneurs and to get some frameworks and learning and everything related to entrepreneurship and innovation.

But then one student acknowledged at the end: “All of that exceeded my expectation, and that was wonderful, but what really surprised me was how entrepreneurial everybody was. Not just the faculty, not just the students, but the staff, the audio-video technicians, everybody.”

And they said the examples they gave were: “We started the week…” And we had a TV monitor; we were doing a hybrid environment, where we had people at home, and we had people in the classroom. They said “At the beginning of the week the video angles weren’t quite right or it was hard to hear. And then we came in the next day, and we noticed the programme manager was taking a screen upstairs and moving a TV from the room next door to get another camera angle and to give us another view so students could see people at home.”

And he said: “It was just impressive to see how everybody got involved and listened. They listened to what students wanted, and adapted and experimented, and weren’t afraid.”  And that sunk in and it felt good.  But really, this was just how we do things. 

And it’s what extends from faculty to students, to staff, to every single programme.  It is something when you think about entrepreneurship at Judge: it cuts across who we are. And that, as I reflected on giving this talk to potential students, I thought that was something special that really doesn’t come across until you are actually here and see that.

What is the wide context in which entrepreneurship happens at Cambridge Judge Business School

The last bit I want to talk about is the context.

What I mean by context is the environment that we operate within. The Cambridge cluster, the ecosystem that we have, which by the way, we are researching here as an ecosystem, and compare it to different ecosystems and how it operates.  But this ecosystem and the city is somewhat like the Goldilocks; it’s in the sweet spot of cities, localities, towns.

It’s not so big  – it’s not London – that you would get lost.

But the amount of activity, the amount of entrepreneurial ventures, and opportunities that take place. There is so much going on. But you have the possibility to really embed yourself. And when I say embed yourself, you can embrace the community that we operate within and really see how collaborative it is.

Because it’s small enough that if you want to have a presence, you can. You can be known across different areas, and it’s small enough that people just really want to help.

And again this is put best by a student.  This past year, someone was asking a student that has a startup with an office in Germany, one in Silicon Valley and now through the programme they are doing much more in the UK.  And the student said, “You know it’s not that Silicon Valley doesn’t want to be collaborative or it doesn’t want to help. It’s not that people in Berlin don’t want to help, all these places are collaborative and helpful, and I love having a presence there. But when I got to Cambridge, I was just incredibly surprised by the degree with which people go out of their way to help.  To try and find a way to give you knowledge, to help your business along.”

And this is from someone who was in a part-time programme and wasn’t in Cambridge all the time.

And that is reflective of what the ecosystem is and what it is known for.

The other part about Cambridge that I think is really special is this powerful paradox: on one hand, you have this massive stability and tradition grounded in a university, where pieces of paper are still updated as they have been for over 800 years, where the old colleges were founded prior to 1596 and the new ones after 1800 – massive tradition.

But then, on the other hand, you have tremendous decentralisation in entrepreneurial spirit, where people are empowered and encouraged to go and pursue discovery and change the world.

And do me that is just a special combination that I haven’t found anywhere else.

I did not fully appreciate that until I came here and its something I am trying to convey in this talk.

But it’s only when you are in Cambridge, and you get to spend some time with people, and you talk, you really get to feel what a special place it is for entrepreneurship.

This is the main gist of what I wanted to get across. I hope as the experience day continues in this virtual setting, you will get the opportunity to discuss with different programme directors to find out for yourself what it is you would like to see here at Cambridge. And if there are more questions, please feel free to reach out to me, and I will be happy to take them.

About Jeremy Hutchison-Krupat

Jeremy Hutchison-Krupat is Senior Lecturer in Innovation & Operations Manangement. He is also Co-Director of the Entrepreneurship Centre as well as the Director of the Masters of Studies in Entrepreneurship programme at Cambridge Judge Business School.

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