UTS Vice-Chancellor Professor Attila Brungs said Jacobsen’s new book would help the national psyche understand the importance of innovation and entrepreneurship, and the role mavericks play in building society.
“Creating programs that inspire and encourage entrepreneurship is core to UTS, and this book delves deep into the minds and motivations of some of the world’s leading entrepreneurs and innovators,” Professor Brungs said.
“The skills our students learn through having an entrepreneurial experience at university will stand them in good stead, whether they want to create their own startup, go into a small or medium company and make it great, or help change the mindset of Australia’s largest corporations.
“In the last two and a half years more than 12,000 UTS students have had an entrepreneurial or innovation experience, a scale hitherto unseen, but it is the scale we need if we are to fulfil our obligation to help society progress,” he said.
Jacobsen is executive chairman of the European Leisure Management group, and was co-producer and co-owner of the musical Dirty Dancing, which is recognised as one of the most successful stage shows of all time. His first book The Business of Creativity was published in 2013.
He is an advisor to corporations and governments on entrepreneurialism and innovation, judge of the Great British Entrepreneur of the year award, and recently launched a music and creative industries accelerator in London to support inspiring performers and musicians.
Jacobsen said Australia needs to pivot away from being a resource led economy, towards one that is service oriented, and the main aim of his new book was to unpack what drives entrepreneurs, mavericks and empire builders.
“It is the act of creation. It is finding your core skill set – which is directly related to what you are passionate about. If you work out what you are passionate about, your core skillset is usually not far behind,” Jacobsen said.
“Those who pursue money and power for its own sake are inevitably going to fail. But if you build a business that has a purpose, that serves people and fulfils a need, then at the worst you will be fulfilled and at best you will become wealthy.”
Jacobsen commended the UTS MBAe program for its innovative approach to helping students create and grow their own startup, along with the range of entrepreneurial initiatives and support services available for all students.
Among the entrepreneurs who attended the launch were UTS alumnus and former Hoyts Cinema boss Peter Ivany, and Anthony Bell, CEO of accounting and advisory firm Bell Partners, who recently launched a six-part TV series on entrepreneurship in partnership with Jacobsen.
Ivany joined Jacobsen and Professor Margaret Maile Petty, UTS Executive Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, in a panel discussion chaired by Professor Roy Green, Special Advisor and Chair for the UTS Innovation Council.
In answer to a question on whether entrepreneurs are made or born, Peter Ivany said while it is easy to think you need a bit of both, ultimately you need the right environment to bring out your best abilities and achieve excellence.
“If you want more entrepreneurs in a country you have to build up an infrastructure that enables those entrepreneurs to flourish. That is really a combination of what government does, together with education, and a supportive environment,” Ivany said.
“You can create more entrepreneurs by creating areas where they can all work together. Consider how the film industry works, how Silicon Valley works, and even sports institutions – groups working together with the right coaching, the right mentoring and the right environment.”
Professor Green concluded the discussion by noting that Australia now has a “burning platform” for change because for the first time in 15 years, mining no longer makes a net contribution to Australia’s GDP growth.
“Entrepreneurship requires massive cultural change, and an acquired degree of ability as well, because if we are complacent, very little will occur,” Professor Green said.
“So we need to think about where future value is going to be sourced, and much of that will be from knowledge-based products and services. So knowledge and ingenuity, the skills we can build in universities, will be crucial to our success as a nation.”