ASU President Michael Crow appointed to Obama’s entrepreneurship advisory council

ADVISORY BOARD: President Crow was appointed to the U.S Department of Commerce's new advisory council Teusday. (Photo by Serwaa Adu-Tutu)

With entrepreneurial programs that stress innovative thinking, the University could play a part in building a better economy.

ASU President Michael Crow was appointed to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s new entrepreneurship advisory council Tuesday.

The announcement came from department secretary Gary Locke at an innovation forum at the University of Michigan.

Crow was one of 26 university officials and business people named to the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship. The group will advise President Barack Obama on developing policies that support entrepreneurship and improve the economy, according to a department press release.

ASU’s Rick Shangraw, senior vice president for Knowledge Enterprise Development, said Crow has been one of the leaders in the country in innovation and entrepreneurship, specifically regarding universities.

“He was selected as part of this group to bring […] the University’s perspective on how to advance innovation and entrepreneurship in the country,” Shangraw said.

He said the focus of the group is job creation and economic growth.

“The objective here is to make sure that we have jobs for our students when they graduate and to make sure that we build an environment that will create new companies and sustain them over a longer period of time,” Shangraw said.

He said Locke has been collaborating over the past year with university and corporate officials in exploring better ways to foster entrepreneurship and innovation in the United States.

Crow said he became a member because he was asked, and he was called to provide a service for his country during an economic crisis.

“What these folks are looking to try to do is get advice on how they can be helpful to the private sector in terms of stimulating innovation,” he said.

Obama and Locke are looking for “ways in which we can accelerate nationally economic recovery,” Crow said.

“Right now we have stagnant wages and flat employment, and there’s no way to continue economic development in any significant way so long as those two numbers remain flat.”

Crow thinks he was picked because ASU is “one of the leading centers for education and discovery in the world,” as well as for his experience in science and technology.

“The reason I do these kinds of things if I’m asked is I’m thinking about how to make the world a better place for smart people that want to move forward with their ideas,” he said. “This will give me an opportunity to put some of my ideas on the table and help make that happen.”

According to Crow, the council’s first meeting is Sept. 1.

He said he wants to find ways to “tap into the talent of college students,” which can sometimes be difficult when students aren’t allowed to take on certain risks or responsibilities until they’re older.

Crow said he’s “looking to find ways to break down all the barriers” that could prevent the younger generation from involvement.

There are programs at ASU, like the Edson Student Entrepreneur Initiative, that could be promoted to a larger scale through more funding, he said.

The Edson program teaches students how to create and manage their own businesses.

He said social networking and other technologies can also be used to create companies quickly.

Adam Ayers, the founder of the student group Entrepreneurs@ASU and its current adviser, said Crow’s new appointment “makes a lot of sense,” because innovation and entrepreneurship are some of ASU’s core values.

These values have already affected Tempe, Phoenix and surrounding areas, he said, although some people still aren’t taking an innovated approach in bettering their situations, instead focusing on the economic crisis.

“I think there’s a lot of entrepreneurs out there that are just making opportunities with what they have, or making the most of what they have, and being very resourceful,” Ayers said.

Crow said entrepreneurship is about being innovative, efficient and “solving problems that aren’t currently solved.”

Technology rules the environment, so entrepreneurs have to “understand how to leverage technology to be more efficient and more profitable and understand how that coordinates with the human,” Ayers said.

He works for and helped found a Scottsdale-based Internet technology start-up company, Arkayne, and ASU is one of its customers.

Tyler Metcalf, a management entrepreneurship senior, co-president of the group and employee of Arkayne, said in an e-mail that Crow’s new role shows that the public has respect for his vision for the University and that ASU has a focus on entrepreneurship.

“This appointment will cause leaders in Washington and elsewhere to discover and learn about ASU’s focus on the New American University and see how the direction that Crow is taking ASU could be a model for other schools across the country,” Metcalf said.

Reach the reporter at reweaver@asu.edu