But Scialom wasn’t at Wharton or any other business school. The business plan competition in which he and eight other finalists — from both for-profit and nonprofit organizations — competed on Thursday was held by Penn’s Graduate School of Education. Open to any education entrepreneur, the competition focused on bringing together new ideas in the education space with big-time players already in the market.
A focus on business plans and entrepreneurial education is new for Penn and for education schools in general, which have tended to defer to business schools on matters of the marketplace. But some education faculty members, notably Doug Lynch, vice dean at Penn’s education school and director of the business plan competition, are starting to argue that as the world of education continues to evolve, these programs have an important role in teaching and fostering entrepreneurship.
“There are a lot of ideas and a lot of money out there for education, but it’s a very complicated market,” Lynch said. “Ideas and money need a place to come together, and the university can be an honest broker in that process. It’s a safe and neutral place to play, and can provide the technical assistance that comes with higher education.”