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Evaluating and advancing economic development initiatives

Course description

Entrepreneurship is an employment driver and provides opportunities for upward social and economic mobility. Entrepreneurs not only create opportunities for themselves and their employees but also for related businesses. Entrepreneurs are often role models for others to try new career pathways and develop new products and services. Even in the midst of the pandemic crisis, we have seen leaps in innovation around the world that are creating hope and new prosperity.

Twenty years ago, the focal point of entrepreneurship was Silicon Valley. Although the allure of Silicon Valley still exists, many other centers of innovation and entrepreneurship have emerged around the world. None of these exactly resembles Silicon Valley as each one embodies the unique historical, economic, political and cultural context of their region. Some of these areas are just evolving while others have become international hubs of innovation. All of these offer opportunities for entrepreneurs, investors and relevant corporate and institutional entities.

Given the economic power that entrepreneurship can bring to a region, it is no wonder that many governments are eager to facilitate and accelerate entrepreneurship. Too often, institutional entities have tried to replicate the ecosystem in Silicon Valley with dismal results. Most efforts do not recognize and integrate the myriad of stakeholders in an entrepreneurial ecosystem. Stakeholders can include venture capitalists, private equity firms, accelerators and incubators, universities, corporate ventures, government and family businesses. In addition, these efforts do not take into account unique and deep-rooted issues involving politics, economics and culture.

This course will do a deep dive into the dynamics of an entrepreneurial ecosystem by researching entrepreneurs and stakeholders within two different cities — Amsterdam and Berlin. At first glance, these regions appear to be very similar. They both are located in the Northern European plain about 400 miles apart. Both cities are in countries with a parliamentary democracy and are part of the European Union. English is the language they both use for business and technology. Even though the countries fought on opposite sides of WWII, both were profoundly affected by the war. With respect to entrepreneurship, each city is now being recognized as an emerging innovation hub in Europe. However, although the cities have much in common, through the research for this course, students will likely uncover distinct differences that have and will impact the growth of entrepreneurship in each region.

Students will form teams to research specific stakeholders or entrepreneurs within a particular industry sector. The research will include secondary sources, but will primarily focus on interviews with entrepreneurs and stakeholders before and during the in-country trip. During the in-country trip, students will participate in a ‘synthesis session’ during the final hours in each city where students will share their key findings about that region’s ecosystem.

Weekend classes will provide relevant background information that will facilitate and enhance student research. The first weekend will focus on entrepreneurship with lectures on the evolution of specific entrepreneurial ecosystems; the basics of venture capital from a local VC; differences between accelerators and incubators; and the growth issues of entrepreneurs. The second weekend will focus on key political, economic and historical information about Berlin and Amsterdam that will provide an important backdrop to student research. In addition, each student will participate in a Cultural Orientation Index survey that will provide insights into building relationships with people in Germany and the Netherlands (and on your team).

By the end of the course, it is anticipated that students will:

  1. Obtain a greater sensitivity to cultural differences when they interact with business and personal acquaintances from different parts of the world.
  2. Appreciate the growth hurdles of entrepreneurs.
  3. Understand the complexity of entrepreneurial ecosystems and how students can make a difference in accelerating entrepreneurship in their own corner of the world.
  4. Realize the power of the Kellogg network internationally.
  5. Make new connections across the different programs at Kellogg.


Last updated: 09/01/2021


Faculty and advisor bios

Faculty bio

Linda Darragh's professional and volunteer experience has focused on enhancing entrepreneurship in Chicago for three decades. Two key areas of interest have been early-stage financing and teaching.

As the Larry Levy executive director of the Kellogg Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative, Ms. Darragh oversees one of four strategic initiatives at Kellogg. In this capacity, Darragh has updated and enhanced the curriculum, expanded the faculty, and increased engagement opportunities for students and alumni. Darragh also teaches New Venture Development, which helps launch student businesses, as well as the Growth Strategy Practicum (capstone) course for the Executive MBA program.

As vice president of the Women's Business Development Center, she piloted innovative lending programs that created collaborations with foundations, banks, and all levels of government. Ms. Darragh also organized Springboard: Mid-West, a nationally recognized investor forum for women entrepreneurs, in 2001 and 2003. The forums raised more than $85 million for participants. Another outcome of Springboard was the establishment of the Ceres Venture Fund in which she is an investor.

In 1999, Ms. Darragh started as an adjunct professor at Kellogg where she taught "Women and Entrepreneurship" and then "462: Entrepreneurship and New Venture Formation." She later became assistant director of entrepreneurship.

In 2006, Ms. Darragh became the director of entrepreneurial programs at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Ms. Darragh's accomplishments included organizing global alumni entrepreneurship immersion trips to India and China, launching the Global New Venture Challenge, and leading the Exploring Entrepreneurship Series which culminated in annual conferences that highlighted local innovation in the areas of financial trading, education, and food. She taught the New Venture Lab and Social Entrepreneurship Lab courses and was also a coach for the New Venture Challenge and the Social Venture Challenge.

Most recently, Ms. Darragh has focused her efforts on early-stage financing in the realm of for-profit social ventures — impact investing. In collaboration with Professor Jamie Jones of Kellogg, they organized an Impact Investing conference in 2011 and then launched Impact Engine, an accelerator for for-profit social ventures.

Ms. Darragh is an active member of the Chicago entrepreneurial community. She has been a long-time board member of the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center/1871.

In her free time, Ms. Darragh will be on the golf course, tennis or paddle tennis court, skiing, or in her garden.

Advisor bio

Elodie Joubert is a Program Director in Executive Education Program. She works with corporate clients to design and deliver programs for senior leaders and partners with Kellogg faculty to design, produce, and deliver custom and online programs for global executives.

Elodie has a passion for lifelong learning, personal and professional development, and experience design. She delights in partnering with clients to identify learning needs and collaborating with faculty and experts to create impactful programs.

Elodie previously served as a Program Manager on the Operations team where she helped drive efforts to improve digital aspects of the participant experience and, in 2020, the warp-speed transformation of program operations to virtually deliver all Executive Education programs in response to the COVID crisis.

Elodie is originally from France. She earned a Masters in Intercultural Management and Religious Mediation from the Institute for Political Studies in Aix-en-Provence, and she is fluent in English, French, and Spanish. She lives in Chicago where she enjoys biking and indoor rock climbing.