Deming Center Offers Dose of Innovation for the ‘Startup Nation’ | Leeds School of Business

Entrepreneurship experts visited Israel to help scientists and researchers recognize breakthrough ideas.​​


Three professionals pose while standing together in a group.

Experts from the Deming Center for Entrepreneurship in Leeds visited the Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel, to help researchers and scientists better understand the business applications of their discovery tools. From left, Brad Werner, Sharon Fireman and Erick Mueller in the Weizmann workshop. Below right is the scene from the workshop session that Mueller and Fireman led.

If you’re in business, the word “entrepreneurship” has many associations—founders, startups, visionaries, people who look at problems differently and find solutions in unlikely places.

If you are more technically oriented, “entrepreneurship” may not be in your vocabulary at all.

A male teacher leads a group discussion in a crowded room.

A female teacher leads a discussion group in a crowded room.And for Erick Mueller, executive director of the Deming Center for Entrepreneurship at Leeds School of Business, that’s a problem, because technical professionals are often responsible for the kind of game-changing innovations in business.

“Teaching scientists and researchers how to better recognize and evaluate ideas from an entrepreneurial lens offers huge potential for positive impact—whether that’s a breakthrough medicine, a cure for a terrible disease or better safety protocols to keep kids are safe online,” Mueller said.

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That’s what led the Deming Center at the Weizmann Institute of Science to a workshop in entrepreneurial thinking for staff scientists at the Rehovot, Israel, research university.

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“Bringing this lens of innovation and entrepreneurship to scientists is perhaps not the first community that comes to mind when you think of our workshop participants,” said Mueller, who created the action idea with his Deming Center colleague, Brad Werner. “But there is so much potential for these researchers to create impacts that really change the world for the better.”

Great potential for impactful business activities

Mueller and Werner were tasked with teaching career researchers in Weizmann’s BINA unit—short for Bridge-Innovate-Nurture-Advance—the business side of the life-changing discoveries they’ve already made, with the hope that these scientists will become more proficient. in recognizing the great ideas. that can affect humanity, and develop them into life-changing applications.

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With a high ratio of entrepreneurs to venture capital in proportion to its population, Israel is known in the tech world as the “startup nation,” making it an ideal environment to plant the CU Deming flag and offer scientists a way to identify entrepreneurial opportunities and achieve their technological potential.

“From my experience, I know that enterprises have the greatest chance of success when you have a talented group of business and technical leaders,” Mueller said. “You cannot have a successful business without these two disciplines. The cross-disciplinary nature of business creation always results in a greater chance of success.”

Gold bar divided section

“Teaching scientists and researchers how to better recognize and evaluate ideas from an entrepreneurial lens offers great potential for positive impact.”

Erick Mueller, executive director, Deming Center for Entrepreneurship

Weizmann is mentioned along with schools like Harvard and MIT when it comes to research, but the workshop “aimed to change our focus from the basic science that we do in the laboratory to understanding how to take our unique idea and turn it into a product.” said Gili Ben Nissan, an associate staff scientist in Weizmann’s department of biomolecular sciences. “We learned various aspects of commercialization, and we were inspired to fly with our imagination to higher ground and realize that if we have a good idea and ambition to make a difference, it is possible.”

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That’s exactly what Sharon Fireman, who heads BINA’s translational research and innovation unit, was looking for in the partnership with Deming. BINA, he said, wants to “help the staff of scientists to expand their knowledge in this field, expose them to the basic concepts of the industry and allow them to create a network that allows collaboration on new innovative projects.”

At Deming, that’s all in a day’s work.

“Entrepreneurship is a mindset, not just a job description,” Mueller said. “By definition, entrepreneurship is solving the world’s problems and enabling people to have a great life.”

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