Richard Lyon's visionary plan for the future of innovation at Berkeley.
- UC Berkeley's new vision to be carried out by Rich Lyons, its new chief innovation and entrepreneurship officer.
- Richard Lyons talks with Big Think about the need to transform universities' "intellectual capital."
- All educational disciplines could benefit with greater innovative principles.
As universities are forced to confront a rapidly transforming educational landscape, the University of California, Berkeley, recently announced that the post of their first-ever chief innovation and entrepreneurship officer (CIEO) would go to its former dean of the Haas School of Business, and longtime UC Berkeley alumnus and facility member, Richard Lyons.
According to leadership at the university, the position is meant to enhance innovation interdepartmentally, while also integrating an enterprising mindset across the forward-thinking campus. Big Think caught up with Richard Lyons to get some insight into his vision for the university in the years to come. Lyons sees tremendous opportunity to make an impact with his new position — it touches the entirety of the university.
In sum, he intends on giving the UC Berkeley's future students the tools they need to turn their intellectual creativity — and the "intellectual product" that comes with it — into a transformational net gain for themselves and society at large.
UC Berkeley’s new position
Image source: Wikimedia Commons.
A UC Berkeley press release announced that Richard's role would be effective January 1, 2020, after which he would go on to start developing and communicating Berkeley's intellectual and innovative portfolio throughout campus, the community, and the business world at large.
Vice Chancellor for Research Randy Katz sees this leadership position as one that'll take on a dynamic role both within the university and outside of it. In an email statement Katz stated:
"The CIEO role has two parts: to be an evangelist for Berkeley entrepreneurship to the outside world of the Bay Area, national, and international innovation ecosystem, and to work on advancing our campus culture for entrepreneurship and innovation."
On the subject of these two parts — Berkeley advocacy and fostering a campus culture of entrepreneurship — Lyons felt that acting on both fronts was equally important. At the core, Lyon's is focused on asking the tough questions:
"What opportunities are we trying to address? The intellectual creativity of Berkeley is truly remarkable. How is that 'intellectual product' going to be transformed into a benefit of society?."
Lyons has served as dean for 11 years, during which he helped to foster a culture of entrepreneurship and lay the groundwork for the campus' larger innovation goals. Lyons launched a number of entrepreneurship programs. One example of note is the Berkeley SkyDeck startup accelerator created in 2012.
The creation of the position comes off the heels of an important and extensive report titled "Entrepreneurship at Berkeley." This was a year-long study conducted by the former Vice Chancellor for Research Paul Alivisatos, commissioned for the university to figure out how they could expand their entrepreneurship environment into the greater community.
Future role at the university
Photo credit: Noah Berger / University of California, Berkeley
A role like CIEO comes with a lot of uncharted territory. But it's also an absolutely necessary role moving forward in the future university landscape. Richard sees the role as an entrepreneurial challenge in itself. Like an upstart, he'll be tasked with using resources that he himself doesn't control, and will have to put together the pieces as he goes along.
"One of the fun things is. . . the role is yet to be designed and created. There are a lot of degrees of freedom to put the priorities where we feel they should be. I know the institution very well and can marshal the resources and people around the vision to get things done."
With a growing interest on college campuses worldwide in entrepreneurial activities, the current higher educational industry is poised with the unique opportunity to prioritize innovation throughout the whole system.
Whether that's forming new partnerships with startup communities, commercializing research, or giving students the resources they need to succeed in the choppy waters of entrepreneurship — the result will hopefully be a net gain.
Strengthening a culture of innovation
UC Berkeley is one of the world's top public schools for graduating the most-funded startup founders. It has a rich tradition of churning out innovative entrepreneurs and successful companies. The fulfillment of this new position seems to be the next logical step in the university's bid to transform their business outreach.
Great institutions are obsessed with getting better. – Richard Lyons
Even more so than just printing out new founders and startups, Lyon's vision is to also impart the enterprising mindset to students of all disciplines. "We put a lot of remarkable people into society from the sciences, business world, and humanities," he says.
Lyons imagines the many possibilities for incorporating this mindset into numerous types of undergraduate studies. He believes that students who are less receptive to a business mindset might reconsider its value if the principles of entrepreneurship were presented to them correctly.
Berkeley has a rich history of divergent thinking. The Bay Area has been home to some of the most important cultural events in the past century. Lyon's mentions the rich cultural artifacts we have left over from the 1960s.
"Think about the enterprising spirit of the 1960s. These things didn't just happen. You have to get people's attention, organize and communicate in certain ways. These are all things that would fascinate a humanist or really anyone... and speak to the wisdom of the people, who haven't always been included in the dominion of the entrepreneurship spirit."
Lyons has set a number of, what he calls, "measurable milestones" that he's looking forward to accomplishing in this exciting new position. Perhaps the most standout, the transmission of entrepreneurial skills to the avant-garde student body at large.
- Blockchain is becoming more prevalent and with it, the need for blockchain developers, opening up an entirely new job market.
- More universities are jumping on the band wagon and offering courses on blockchain development
- Courses you can learn and how you can use the advancement of blockchain to get ahead
According to new research carried out by Coinbase, we're witnessing a significant rise in the number of universities teaching their students about blockchain and cryptocurrencies.
It turns out that 42% of the world's top universities are now offering at least one course on either cryptocurrencies or blockchain technology. While previously these courses only garnered interest from those studying math or computing-related subject, they now have students from a large range of majors.
Which Universities Are Offering Courses on These Subjects?
Universities have been teaching and researching distributed ledger technology since before cryptocurrencies were mainstream.
However, the number of universities offering such courses has rapidly increased over the past couple of years, and will continue to rise for the foreseeable future.
Coinbase Reports has even created a chart to show the number of cryptocurrency and blockchain courses being taught at some of the top universities around the world.
Nir Kabessa, the President of Blockchain at Columbia stated::
"Schools such as Berkeley, MIT, Columbia, and Stanford are leading the race. MIT's Bitcoin Club is a legendary organization which led to the formation of the Blockchain Education Network, a community of top blockchain labs and chapters.
Columbia University is gradually adding for-credit courses on blockchain, but its main source of education stems from its innovative institutions such as the DSI-IBM Research Center, Blockchain at Columbia, and Columbia Blockchain Studio. It is important to differentiate what type of education one is looking for."
Each institution has its own pros and cons. Whilst some universities are famous worldwide for their intensive research into blockchain, their education department is lacking. Meanwhile, some of the institutions with the best teaching reputations have comparatively low scores for their research.
Can I Take These Courses Online?
As well as enrolling in these courses in universities, there is also the option to learn more about blockchain technology - and even gain professional qualifications - by studying online.
For instance, Coursera's free course on Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Technologies was created by Princeton University. So far it's been rated by over 1,700 users and has received an average rating of 4.7 out of 5. New enrollments open every few days, and you can work the assignments around your schedule.
Similarly, Udemy's Blockchain Technology: A Guide to the Blockchain Ecosystem teaches you to understand the entire blockchain ecosystem from the ground up.
If you're a developer who wants to get involved in blockchain technology but have little to no experience, IBM is even offering a free Blockchain Essentials course that will teach you how to create your own private blockchain network on IBM Bluemix.
Do I Need to be a Computer Geek to Enroll?
Many people still associate cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin with computer geeks, cyber-criminals, and hackers from the dark web. However, this couldn't be further from the truth.
Blockchain technology is still a very new concept, but it has advanced rapidly over the past few years. As time progresses, it's becoming clear that the technology will only continue to become a more and more vital part of our society.
David Yermack, the finance department chair at NYU Stern School of Business, first began to enroll students in his course on blockchain and financial services back in 2014. He started the course because he was interested in how fast Bitcoin was growing.
However, he now sees the course as a way for students to gain the skills they will require for jobs in the future.
In an interview, he stated, "A process is well underway that will lead to the migration of most financial data to blockchain-based organizations. Students will benefit greatly by studying this area."
How Can I Use These Courses to Make Money?
Between 2017 and 2018, the blockchain job market has witnessed tremendous growth.
Perhaps one of the most obvious ways to use these courses to make money is to become a blockchain developer. Between January 2017 and January 2018, the demand for blockchain engineers on Toptal has grown by 700%.
In addition, websites such as Indeed.com, AngelList, LinkedIn, Crypto Jobs List, Blocktribe, Blockchainjobz, Joblift, and Upwork have seen a huge surge in the number of blockchain jobs available.
According to data collected by Indeed, the average salary of a blockchain professional in the US ranges from $63,000 per year to $157,000 per year - with marketing specialists being on the lower end of the scale and senior managing consultants being on the higher end.
A report from Bloomberg stated that the highest demand in the industry is for software development and financial services.
The Future of Blockchain
Blockchain technology has made a lot of progress over the past few years alone, but this is still just the very beginning.
Job positions are opening far faster than they can be filled, and right now is the prime time for those with the right skills to get involved.
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