22 October 2021

Dr. Jerome S. Engel, awarded an honorary doctorate by the URL at the proposal of the La Salle International School of Commerce and Digital Economy

The expert in innovation, entrepreneurship and venture capital receives the distinction at the La Salle-URL campus

The Universitat Ramon Llull today has invested as a new honorary doctorate Dr. Jerome S. Engel, an expert in innovation, entrepreneurship and venture capital and adjunct professor emeritus at the Haas School of Business (University of California, Berkeley), in an act that has started with the reading of the minutes of the Governing Board of appointment of Dr. Engel by Anna Berga, general secretary of the URL. Subsequently, Dr. Josep Miquel Piqué, professor at FICEDLS, executive director of Internationalization and Innovation at La Salle-URL and executive president of La Salle Technova, praised the merits of the honoree as Dr. Engel's godfather.

Piqué has valued Engel's research and publications, which explore the ecosystems of innovation and technological commercialization, as well as lean innovation management practices in both established and emerging companies. "Innovation in training methodology, leadership in the adoption of new methodologies within the educational community and the promotion of economic development for the creation of a better world", summarized Piqué, referring to the areas in which Engel has developed its great contributions.

One of the points on which Piqué has especially emphasized has been Engel's contribution to research through his great theory, the theory of innovation clusters: "Engel built a coherent theory that explains the appearance of new innovative companies and how certain communities have created environments that have fostered development - these communities he calls innovation clusters." In this sense, as explained by Piqué, one of the relevant points that global innovation clusters have in the training of entrepreneurship is that the active protagonists of these communities are, among others, students, who, properly trained, are better prepared to function. in today's innovation economy.

Finally, Josep Miquel Piqué thanked Dr. Engel for the support that he always offers to the links between Barcelona and Silicon Valley, "a constant and very valuable exercise", visible today through his participation in the program The Collider of the Mobile World Capital , where, as Piqué explained, "he leads a development program for entrepreneurs in entrepreneurship based on the Lean Innovation I-Corps that he created for UC Berkeley."

This was followed by Dr. Jerome S. Engel, who began by contextualizing technology and innovation today, highlighting the importance that, combined, they are having in the fight against COVID-19: "Innovation is an important process that it not only means progress, but, as we have learned with COVID-19 and perhaps we are discovering with climate change and other exogenous stresses on society, it is an essential source of social resilience." In this sense, Engel added that "a crucial lesson that the pandemic has taught us is that now is the time to invest efforts to build resilient societies capable of absorbing and reacting creatively to the challenges that will come; the relentless advance of technology is a blessing, but it also comes with obvious responsibility."

Professor Engel has also made reference to the journey of entrepreneurship, cataloging the decisions of the entrepreneur throughout this journey of creation, and the commitment they imply, as the real challenge he faces. To explain it, Engel has recovered a quote from Howard Stevenson, from Harvard, who said that entrepreneurship is "the search for opportunities beyond the resources that are controlled", a definition that, for Engel, "reflects both the recognition of that the entrepreneur must continually make perhaps irreversible commitments, and the fact that one of the greatest skills of the entrepreneur must be the continuous communication of the opportunity".

In the last part of his speech, Professor Engel wanted to explain the main aspects of his theory of innovation clusters, paying special attention to the role of the university in these communities. According to Engel, universities have a differentiated and fundamental role within innovation clusters since they are where innovation and technological invention reside. Along these lines, Engel explained that, traditionally, the university's mission was reduced to three pillars:

  • Protect, spread and discover new knowledge.
  • Educate and train talented people.
  • Participate constructively in their communities and in society in general.

Above all this, Engel has ensured that "the entrepreneurial university of the 21st century must reinterpret how it applies these three elements to become, as they say in modern business language, a platform for the creation of value; it can do so if it goes beyond the classroom and the research laboratory and is committed to acting as a facilitator, becoming an active partner and fostering and hosting the interaction of its most important capabilities."

Finally, the rector of the URL, Dr. Josep Maria Garrell, thanked Engel for accepting this recognition granted by the university and highlighted the fact that it is the first honorary doctorate from the International Faculty of Commerce and Economics Digital La Salle-URL, "a symbolic, important event and a prime example for students, the university community and society in general." In the same way, Garrell has publicly thanked Dr. Piqué for sponsorship of Engel: "He has been what we could say is the alma mater of this proposal."

The rector then went on to praise the merits of Dr. Engel linking them to some personal reflections that he shared with the attendees. In this sense, Garrell has vindicated the role of challenge-oriented research in today's higher education as a driver of technological and social development in a message addressed to those responsible for creating and applying research policies and investments.

Secondly, Dr. Garrell has highlighted the need to promote business innovation in Catalonia, understanding that today it is very limited to large companies and that 95% of Catalan companies are SMEs: "If radical innovation and potentially Disruption is difficult to happen in large corporations, and for this to flourish systematically there is a certain size, we conclude that the situation is restrictive and complex".

Finally, Josep Maria Garrell has encouraged the entire community to understand the role of the university in the same way that Dr. Engel understands it: "He proposes that the university should be a source of inspiration, it should teach skills and patterns that commonly lead to success, must be a connector, taking advantage of their networks, and must be a driver of culture in the broadest sense, since «what the university endorses, ends up having an impact on society»".

With the celebration of this academic act of investiture, the Ramon Llull University has formalized its 45th honorary doctorate, the 7th granted at the proposal of La Salle-URL.