Gary Dinn, the CEO of Propel ICT, is pleased to see universities introduce more potential entrepreneurs to the lean startup concept. But he’s also quick to argue that universities are not the leading force in developing lean tech startups. It’s accelerators like his, he says, that are the main engines.
Propel, a tech sector industry group, runs two separate tech accelerator programs: Launch (for fledgling startups) and Build (for later-stage startups). Propel’s current goal is to help create 420 companies in five years. Dinn points to American tech startup investor Brad Feld’s “Startup Communities.” He notes that Feld argues that universities do not play a leading role in any tech “ecosystem.”
“Universities have a lot to add here but it’s a supporting role, just like government has a supporting role,” he says. “The entrepreneurial community really needs to lead.”
Dinn contends that private sector accelerators have a far more rigorous screening process. University courses, meanwhile, admit students not necessarily interested in starting a company. Many are merely seeking a credit.
“We need universities to help expand and preach the gospel of lean startups and to educate people, but they don’t always have a good selection process,” Dinn says. “We see them as more preparatory to the accelerator experience that we would give startups.”