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£30M London Institute Adds To B-Schools' Social Entrepreneurship Focus

A new social entrepreneurship centre at London School of Economics joins the growing list of top universities and b-schools pioneering social impact and start-ups.

By  Seb Murray

Mon Apr 27 2015

London School of Economics will open a new centre in the UK capital dedicated to social entrepreneurship after receiving a £30 million donation from hedge fund founder Paul Marshall.

The latest top academic institution to invest in social entrepreneurship, LSE joins a list of leading business schools including Stanford and Oxford to launch centres focused on philanthropy and social impact.

The Marshall Institute for Philanthropy and Social Entrepreneurship, to be housed on the LSE campus in Holborn, is designed to improve the impact, effectiveness and appeal of private contributions to the public good.

“It will nurture deeper understanding of how philanthropy and social entrepreneurship work, and deliver improvements in philanthropic performance and leadership,” said Professor Craig Calhoun, director of LSE.

Business schools say this generation of students and particularly Millennials are keen to generate social value in their careers.

Stewart Thornhill, executive director at the Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies at Michigan’s Ross School of Business, said: “There is a greater desire to make a difference in the world beyond making a pay check or making loads of money.”

Two-thirds of the £30 million donation from Paul Marshall, who is the co-founder and chief investment officer of leading hedge fund group Marshall Wace LLP, will go towards building the centre; the rest will fund its operation.

It will be chaired by Sir Thomas Hughes-Hallett, an investment banking veteran and director of the King’s Fund, a healthcare think-tank.

Sir Thomas said that there is a great need and demand for an institution that combines practical experience and academic rigour to produce the future leaders of social entrepreneurship.

“Private contributions to the public good of time, talent and treasure will be the crucial ingredients of a successful society and a new, more responsible model of capitalism,” he added.

The Marshall Institute will focus on learning – with a master’s program – research and development, community work and stewardship of initiatives related to philanthropy and social entrepreneurship.

It aims to sign up 150 students on its master’s course by 2017 and more than 100,000 for its online programs.

The institute will also build collaborative partnerships with other universities, policy makers and practitioners. It will “prioritise innovation above all else”.

It joins a number of top academic institutions pushing these topics. In the US, Stanford GSB runs the Center for Social Innovation; Kelley School of Business has its Global Social Entrepreneurship Institute.

In the UK, London already has the Centre for Charity Effectiveness at Cass Business School, and there is the Skoll Centre at Oxford’s Saïd Business School, which recently ran an Impact Investing Program.

Gayle Peterson, director of the course said that articipants have said that the experience has been "energising, affirming and challenging", and has inspired them to deliver strategies and projects with both financial and social returns.

Business schools have been pushing impact investing in their MBA programs, with funds set-up and led by students at Wharton, Haas School and UNC Kenan-Flagler among others.

And Spain’s IESE Business School last year launched a new MBA elective that focuses on social entrepreneurship.

Professor Antonino Vaccaro, who teaches the program, said that impact has to go beyond corporate social responsibility. Companies are beginning to realize this, he said. “They’re also discovering that a social focus makes them more competitive.”

Philanthropic donating has risen since the financial crisis, with UK charitable donations hitting £10.4 billion in 2012-13, according to the Charities Aid Foundation.

The number of £1 million-plus donations rose by 50% in 2013 when compared with the previous year, according to Coutts, the private bank.

But a new report on the UK’s social investment market – After the Gold Rush, which was co-authored by Alex Nicholls, professor of social entrepreneurship at Oxford Saïd – found that there needs to be a more principled approach to social investment.

Alex said that since the crisis, there has been increasing interest in how capital might be harnessed for social good. But he added: “The danger here is that we simply recreate models from mainstream financial markets and expect them to work in the social sector, while at the same time letting social values succumb to the power of capital.

“Instead, we need fairer, more open and inclusive investment models that can help tackle inequality.”