Provost Nathan Provost address attendees

Provost Nathan Provost addresses attendees at Lehigh's “Empowering Regional Impact Through Entrepreneurship" symposium.

Lehigh Symposium Puts Focus on Entrepreneurship

Community and business leaders are welcomed to campus for discussion on the role of universities in fostering innovation.

Story by

Mary Ellen Alu

Lehigh welcomed community and business leaders to campus Wednesday, Oct. 25, for a discussion on the role of universities in developing and supporting entrepreneurship and innovation.

Titled “Empowering Regional Impact Through Entrepreneurship,” the three-hour symposium in Lehigh’s new Health, Science and Technology Building delved into strategies that government, economic development and university leaders employ to support endeavors in the Lehigh Valley region of Pennsylvania, as well as in Germany’s Ruhr area.

A delegation from the Technical University of Dortmund in Germany, one of Lehigh’s partner universities, participated. The Ruhr region, formerly a coal mining region, is now recognized in Europe for its thriving startup ecosystem, driven in part by university-industry-government partnerships.

Participating in a morning panel discussion were Lehigh Provost Nathan Urban; Lehigh’s Vice Provost for Entrepreneurship Lisa Getzler; Don Cunningham, president and CEO of the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation; and Allentown Mayor Matt Tuerk. Attending from TU Dortmund were Gerhard Schembecker, vice president of finance and board director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Transfer; Daniela Giménez, junior professor of entrepreneurship and Dirk Kanngießer, Managing Director of TU Capital.

Matt Turek addresses attendees

Allentown Mayor Matt Turek addresses attendees. From left, Lisa Getzler, Daniela Giménez, Turek, Dirk Kanngießer, Nathan Urban and Don Cunningham.

Urban, who moderated, told attendees: “Lehigh’s a place with momentum.” He pointed to Lehigh’s new College of Health, new buildings that include the Health, Science and Technology Building and the Business Innovation Building, and the university’s new strategic plan, Inspiring the Future Makers.

He said the strategic plan’s three pillars—Make it New, Make a Difference and Make it Together—tie in “strongly” to ideas of entrepreneurship. While identifying ideas that can positively change the world is essential, he said, “if you can’t act on them, you will never make a difference.” Lehigh plays a role in the region’s vitality by helping to supply the talent pool–students, postdoctoral candidates—and fostering research and discovery, he said.

Urban showed aerial footage of Lehigh’s Mountaintop campus, which contains 740 acres and now houses the ATLSS Engineering Research Center, Art, Architecture & Design and other programs. A key initiative of the strategic plan is to transform and “fully activate” the Mountaintop campus into a vital destination for the Lehigh community and beyond. Lehigh is exploring spaces for corporate sponsorships and community event space, as well as a graduate student and postdoc village.

The symposium wrapped up with a discussion on “Immigration and Innovation Systems.”

Cheryl Matherly with panelists

From left, Liudvika Leišytė, Cheryl Matherly and Divyansh Kaushik.

Cheryl Matherly, vice president and vice provost for International Affairs at Lehigh, moderated the two-person panel consisting of Divyansh Kaushik, associate director for emerging technologies and national Security at the Federation of American Scientists, and Liudvika Leišytė, professor of higher education and deputy director at the Center for Higher Education at TU Dortmund University.

During the 45-minute afternoon session, topics covered included why immigrants are likely to be entrepreneurs, the role that international students and scholars play and what advice they would give to policy makers.

Stephen Gross contributed to this article

Story by

Mary Ellen Alu

Related Stories

money photo with stethescope

Nursing Home Industry May Obscure Some of its Profits, Lehigh Researcher Finds

Andrew Olenski, assistant professor of economics, publishes finding in a National Bureau of Economic Research working paper.

Eduardo Gomez

Professor Eduardo J. Gómez Joins Council of Foreign Relations as Life Member

Gómez receives global recognition for scholarship and contributions to global health policy.

children raising hands in classroom

Research Promotes Equitable Reclassification for Multilingual Learners with Disabilities

Sara Kangas, associate professor of special education, presents policy brief to special education state agency leaders from across the U.S.