UVA Darden’s 2018–19 Batten Fellows to Research Entrepreneurial Ecosystems and the Impact of Teams on Innovation

By Andrew King

The University of Virginia Darden School of Business has named this year’s Batten Fellows, one of the School’s most prestigious honors for scholarship in entrepreneurship and innovation. Following a competitive selection process, Darden announced Professor Siobhán O’Mahony of Boston University and Professor Jan Bena of the University of British Columbia as the 2018–19 fellowship recipients.

Sponsored and administered by Darden’s Batten Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation since 1999, the Batten Fellows program provides support for prominent thought leaders and high-potential scholars who seek to generate new knowledge about entrepreneurship and innovation. The program aims to advance work that will result in academic articles, books and other high-impact publications that promote ideas of practical importance to business leaders, policymakers and the public.

Siobhán O’Mahony

Siobhán O’Mahony

O’Mahony, associate professor of strategy and innovation at Boston University’s Questrom School of Business, seeks to further understanding of entrepreneurial ecosystems through her project, What Kind of Village Fosters Entrepreneurs’ Venture Development?

Deploying machine-learning and other data analysis techniques, O’Mahony will investigate how an entrepreneurial ecosystem impacts an entrepreneur’s ideas for the creation and evolution of a new company. While much research has focused on the ability of entrepreneurs to recognize entrepreneurial opportunity, little knowledge exists on how variation in the local ecosystem supporting an entrepreneur affects his or her ability to successfully adapt the initial vision.

“My research will examine how entrepreneurs refine their ideas, the effects of ecosystem resources on entrepreneurs’ process of idea iteration, and how idea iteration shapes new venture development,” said O’Mahony.

The study will rely on the experiences of entrepreneurs who have graduated from an accelerator program, often a critical bridge to the wider entrepreneurial ecosystem.

O’Mahoney is also academic director of research and curriculum for Innovate@BU, a campus-wide initiative to spur innovation across Boston University, and teaches two popular electives: “Design Thinking and Innovation” and “Organizing for Innovation.”

Jan Bena

Jan Bena

Jan Bena, associate professor in the finance division at the University of British Columbia Sauder School of Business, will focus his fellowship on a research project titled Diversity of Innovators’ Human Capital and the Value of Innovation.

He will examine how innovation teams’ amount and diversity of experience influence the scientific merit and market value of patents that the team generates. He will analyze the evolution of inventors’ patent filings over their careers, valuing their latest patents using leading quantitative and data science methods. “The outcome of this research,” according to Bena, “will help entrepreneurs and corporate managers make better decisions about how to create teams to nurture the creation of breakthrough innovations.”

Both O’Mahoney and Bena will present the findings of their research at Darden during the 2018–19 academic year.

“Professors Bena and O’Mahoney are terrific additions to the cohort of Batten Fellows who have enriched the Darden community since the first fellow was named in 1999,” said Erika Herz, Batten Institute director of research and intellectual capital. “Their research areas align with the Batten Institute’s research mission, and we look forward to their contributions this year,”

To date, over 50 Batten Fellows with diverse backgrounds and expertise have received over $2 million in funding, supporting their efforts to collaborate with Darden faculty and advance the field of entrepreneurship and innovation. Applications for next year’s program (2019–20) are open through 1 May 2019.

About the University of Virginia Darden School of Business

The University of Virginia Darden School of Business prepares responsible global leaders through unparalleled transformational learning experiences. Darden’s graduate degree programs (MBA, MSBA and Ph.D.) and Executive Education & Lifelong Learning programs offered by the Darden School Foundation set the stage for a lifetime of career advancement and impact. Darden’s top-ranked faculty, renowned for teaching excellence, inspires and shapes modern business leadership worldwide through research, thought leadership and business publishing. Darden has Grounds in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the Washington, D.C., area and a global community that includes 18,000 alumni in 90 countries. Darden was established in 1955 at the University of Virginia, a top public university founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819 in Charlottesville, Virginia.


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