Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Pittsburgh West

The intensifying relationship between Stanford University and Carnegie Mellon University highlights the growing similarity between Pittsburgh and San Francisco. The entrepreneurial connection is social enterprise. Pittsburgh's key actor in this arena is the Pittsburgh Social Enterprise Accelerator, a company with an ambitious mission:

Establish the Pittsburgh region as a world leader in social enterprise by helping nonprofits build innovative earned-income ventures that contribute to their social mission.

President Tim Zak is spearheading this effort and he is also active on the academic front:

Carnegie Mellon University’s H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management has created the Institute of Social Innovation (ISI) to foster creativity and entrepreneurship in the social sector. Funded by a two-year grant from The Grable Foundation and an anonymous donor, the institute will focus on creating new courses, conducting research and establishing outreach programs aimed at promoting innovation and societal change.

The institute is being led by Denise Rousseau, the H. John Heinz II Professor of Organizational Behavior at the Heinz School and the Tepper School of Business; Tim Zak, president of the Pittsburgh Social Innovation Accelerator and an adjunct professor at the Heinz and Tepper schools; and Marie Coleman, senior director of development and special projects at the Heinz School...

"An entrepreneur is a packager of change," Zak said. "Social entrepreneurs are passionate, smart and motivated — just like entrepreneurs in the for-profit sector — but they apply their energies to solving intractable social problems. We want to inspire more people to pursue those dreams."

This is another example of Pittsburgh taking cues from Bay Area creativity. Stanford has its own Center of Social Innovation, which "leverages Stanford's knowledge, expertise and networks, bringing community leaders together with our faculty, alumni and students to illuminate and address social problems." Pittsburgh's embrace of social enterprise aligns the region with the Stanford-Silicon Valley knowledge engine.

CMU has its own impressive network and a substantial presence near San Francisco. The foundation is there for inter-regional cooperation and collaboration. The actor missing from this scene is the Mobility Class. Pittsburgh expatriates form a strong link between the two regions. When does Stanford East open shop?


Kosmo said...

“Innovative Entrepreneurial Dynamism” - Not sure who is the author of this phrase but I am pretty sure that the Council on Competitiveness ( provides the foundation upon which your social enterprise sits.

In the spirit of intense relationships and key actors it might be appropriate to define Pittsburgh NorthEast. The key actor to which I allude is Harvard and specifically Michael E. Porter. Regional Stewardship meets Clusters of Innovation.

If I understand correctly all of these actors share the goal of a rising standard of living predicated upon economic prosperity and social inclusiveness. The forces of globalization, socialization (human interconnectedness) and the Semantic Web create gravity around innovation as the key to achieving this quality of life for every citizen.

From my naïve view, innovation uses people and ideas as raw materials to create commercial realities. So it makes sense to empower every citizen to behave as an entrepreneur. The social enterprise habitat gets really interesting when you consider novel ways to harness all that tacit knowledge and leverage capital.

Enter dynamism and the context of people on the move. Take your Burgh Diaspora and the Pittsburgh region’s desire to attract and retain tacit knowledge in the pursuit of their regional initiatives, both economic and social. Or should I write the social enterprise?

Who are the stewards of Pittsburgh responsible for making these capital investments and what is their basis for valuation? For example the Pittsburgh region ranks highly when it comes to innovation capacity (and degree production) yet lowly when it comes to performance in the New Economy.

How does GlobalSiliconValley rationalize their investment in human, social and financial capital? Do they use a more relevant measure of success like a regionalized return on innovation?

Kosmo said...

“When does Stanford East open shop?”
I was under the impression this happened in the late 70s under the auspices of Richard M. Cyert.

Amos_thePokerCat said...

There is no reason for Stanford to open a satelite here. Maybe BOS, DC, or NYC. Not here.

Kosmo said...

A less literal answer could be found in the common approach shared by Stanford and Carnegie Mellon as regards improving the global quality of life. Regional stewards realize that economic prosperity and social inclusiveness are inextricably interwoven.

A new social enterprise: