”I WANT YOU TO COME HERE AND MAKE SOME NOISE!” was the message from my recruiter at the NTNU Technology Transfer department, a company working on creating value out of research results and good ideas.
”We see great potential in exploring new recruitment strategies in order to increase the annual spin-off rate from our company. We believe the right way to do this is by hiring risk-willing people like you. Thus we have proposed a new experiment – a one-year employment for you as our entrepreneur in residence”.
Seeing what has triggered NTNU Technology Transfer to hire a total of 4 entrepreneurs in residence (EIRs) over the past year has made me think of 3 signals suggesting an entrepreneur in residence might be valuable to any company!
Everyone knows the feeling of ‘falling behind’ from following a problem-solving process built on formulas that used to be successful earlier on, but as Albert Einstein once stated “we can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them”.
NTNU Technology Transfer was extremely brave when hiring their first in-house entrepreneurs with one mission: question and challenge everything! They were willing to listen to new thoughts and challenge how things were being done, thus constantly thriving innovation in the workplace! Now European tech trans organizations start looking towards Norway to explore the new model.
EIRs can embody a range of skillsets, backgrounds and interests, and if you are lucky to find an EIR who truly complements your team, this could add significant value to your company, both by cultivating new ideas and bringing in outside perspectives.
Being innovative often require big investments in time, focus and money tied to a high risk. Sometimes great opportunities lie within reach; the only thing missing is someone daring to take the next step.
Karl Klingsheim, the director of NTNU Technology Transfer says: “We need more people who are both able AND willing to create commercial value from our techtrans-projects. Serial entrepreneurs are few and far between, and we try very hard to use them as role models for others while we repeatedly provide them with new, tantalizing business opportunities emerging from unique knowledge and technologies from research at NTNU, St.Olavs Hospital and HiST.”.
If your company is able to find EIRs who is in a phase of life where they are not bound to heavy personal investments then, if the timing is right, they might me more willing to take on the required risk to take ideas to the next level. Thus your company can minimize risk by constraining employment to a limited period, while increasing the chances of success by giving the in-house entrepreneur a time limit to build and execute.
New innovative tools, incubators and communities are developed at a constant high pace and you know it takes time and focus to build new relations and keep up with everything new. As EIRs are used to travel new roads and build connections, they can add value to your company by introducing new tools for business development and bridge the gap between your company’s core business and the startup community.
When NTNU Technology Transfer chose to recruit entrepreneurs from the master program NTNUs School of Entrepreneurship they signalled 3 things:
If a company like NTNU Technology Transfer, whose pure purpose is to commercialise new research, sees value in ‘new entrepreneurial blood’, then there is certainly a huge potential for similar experiments among other businesses in other sectors as well.