Georgetown University: $3.25M gift empowers entrepreneurship for social good

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Michael Brown (B’94), general partner at Battery Ventures and previous chair of the National Venture Capital Association, has built a career backing businesses that solve intractable challenges.

“I firmly believe in focusing on investing in creative minds and entrepreneurs,” Brown says. “I’ve seen the power of what entrepreneurship can do to solve real-world problems.”

So when McDonough School of Business Dean Paul Almeida sought to bolster Georgetown’s entrepreneurship program by recruiting globally recognized entrepreneurship expert Gerry George to join the faculty, Michael Brown and his wife, Tamsen Caruso Brown, wanted to help.

Thanks to a $3 million gift, the Tamsen and Michael (B’94) Brown Family Endowed Chair in Entrepreneurship and Innovation Fund supports George’s role as chair to strengthen interdisciplinary connections and bridge the scholarship and practical application of entrepreneurship. An additional $250,000 gift creates the Tamsen and Michael Brown Family Current Use Entrepreneurship Fund in the McDonough School of Business to support the operations and programming of the Georgetown Entrepreneurship Initiative.

George, who started at the university in August 2021, has already made an impact. In April, Georgetown McDonough faculty voted to create an entrepreneurship minor that welcomes students from across the university.

“That would not have happened without Gerry’s leadership,” says Professor Jeff Reid, founding director of Georgetown Entrepreneurship. “And we would not have been able to recruit Gerry to be that leader without the kind of support that we got from Michael and Tamsen Brown. We expect even more great things in years to come with Gerry’s leadership.”

“Gerry has proven himself to be one of the foremost thought leaders when it comes to entrepreneurship,” Brown says. “The chair marries the practical application of entrepreneurship with the academic side. Tamsen and I are ecstatic and delighted to be supporting this program.”

Applying entrepreneurial thinking to global challenges
Gerry George
Gerry George, who holds the Tamsen and Michael (B’94) Brown Family Endowed Chair in Entrepreneurship and Innovation, previously served as dean and Lee Kong Chian Chair Professor of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Singapore Management University’s Lee Kong Chian School of Business.
George focuses on entrepreneurship for social good—especially in the areas of health care, climate, and energy—which aligns with the strategic priorities of Georgetown McDonough. That emphasis on common good attracted him to return to the United States from Singapore Management University, where he served as dean and Lee Kong Chian Chair Professor of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Lee Kong Chian School of Business.

“The research that I do is about using entrepreneurship and innovation to solve the world’s grand challenges,” George says. “Georgetown has this idea of common good embedded in its social fabric. So for me, it just made sense. If you’re looking for a university to focus on making the world better through entrepreneurship, then Georgetown is the number one place to do it.”

In his time teaching undergraduate, MBA, and Executive MBA students at Georgetown, George has found a student body that fully commits to make the world better.

“My role that I see as an entrepreneurship professor is really about channeling that positive energy into more productive opportunities,” he says.

Connecting students to entrepreneurial ecosystems
The gift empowers George, as chair, to hire postdoctoral fellows, develop a research agenda, and publish research on business and the common good. The fund also supports curricular innovation and the delivery of teaching by helping to develop case studies from alumni with successful ventures and bringing them into the classroom to speak with students.

George will design the cross-campus minor in entrepreneurial thinking for the common good, to launch in the 2023-2024 academic school year. He will prioritize meeting all Georgetown students where they are and allowing them to count classes in diverse disciplines toward the minor.

He also seeks to develop programming to bring Georgetown Entrepreneurship into the D.C. community, leveraging the facilities in the downtown campus.

“We want to make sure that Georgetown entrepreneurship programs are not just about the Hilltop, but also embedded within the broader community that we serve,” George says. “We are working on programming to build, grow, and create community across the DMV area.”

Ultimately, his goal is to elevate Georgetown’s global reputation as a center for leadership in purposeful entrepreneurship by recruiting faculty who can command academic credibility and develop research evidence of entrepreneurial practices, emerging technologies, and novel business models.

“Entrepreneurship and innovation will drive the future of business, and Gerry’s work explores both of these with an eye on the common good,” Almeida says. “We are grateful to the Brown family for their support of Gerry, cutting-edge research, and our efforts to introduce students from across Georgetown University to an entrepreneurial mindset.”

Living Georgetown’s values
As a member of the McDonough School of Business Board of Advisors and the Georgetown Entrepreneurship Advisory Group, Brown has appreciated the growth of Georgetown’s entrepreneurship community under the leadership of Dean Almeida. He says he is excited by Almeida’s work to create cross-discipline connections at Georgetown.

“Dean Almeida’s done a phenomenal job of elevating Georgetown McDonough, both within the university and externally,” Brown says. “As an entrepreneur himself, he’s breaking down walls within the university, creating new centers of excellence and joint degree programs.”

Meanwhile, Brown’s generosity as a philanthropist, along with his commitment to speaking with Georgetown students, make him an excellent example of positive entrepreneurial impact.

Emily Owen shows a demo of her product to Michael Brown, Martha Lawler, and Mackenzie Copley in the Georgetown Venture Lab.
“Michael has Georgetown values at his core,” George says. “While I write and research and study entrepreneurship for the common good, Michael tries to live it. I found Michael to be delightfully committed to the Georgetown ethos of making the world better through entrepreneurship.”

Noting that Georgetown needs intellectual capital just as much as philanthropy, Brown says, “I would challenge all alumni to figure out a way to contribute to Georgetown to make it a better place for everybody.”

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