INSEAD has received €10 million in endowed funds from a mysterious alumnus to boost academic excellence in entrepreneurship.
The yield from the momentous gift will be invested to establish several academic positions and PhD scholarships, all dedicated to strengthening research, teaching and cultivating entrepreneurial talent.
INSEAD, the world’s best-ranked business school, has produced five companies valued at or above a billion dollars, including MBA graduate Nicolas Brusson’s ride-sharing firm BlaBlaCar.
“This generous gift will transform the entrepreneurial ecosystem at INSEAD as well as inspire and empower faculty, entrepreneurs, students and alumni around the globe,” said Ilian Mihov, INSEAD dean and professor of economics.
The donation comes as business schools strive to boost their research and teaching in entrepreneurship. MBA programs have long faced hostility from the startup community, with the high fees commanded by many courses putting entrepreneurs off. However, there are signs that founders are warming to business schools, with research published last year showing that 6,648 MBAs have founded 6,035 companies and raised $99.395 billion in venture capital for them.
Last week, French business school HEC Paris launched a fully online master’s program in innovation and entrepreneurship. Successful graduates will be able to move their respective project into its next phase by applying for seed funding from HEC Paris, and have their project come to fruition at the school’s incubator, based at Station F, the world’s biggest startup campus. Last year, NYU Stern School of Business created the Venture Fellows program, which provides students with funding and an immersion in San Francisco’s Bay Area. Harvard Business School, meanwhile, opened a start-up studio in New York City.
INSEAD’s gift, a record, comes from an alumnus who is an anonymous and longstanding supporter of the French school. His total contribution to INSEAD amounts to more than €20 million.
The donor said: “INSEAD changed my life for the better. I want INSEAD to continue to excel in everything it does and to support it as an independent institution, which needs donations from its alumni. As an entrepreneur myself, it is only natural that we support this strategic area and invest in future generations of INSEAD entrepreneurs.”
Andreas Jacobs, MBA and chairman of INSEAD’s board of directors, said: “I believe that our alumni play a crucial role in INSEAD’s next chapter, and that it’s our responsibility to give back to the school to secure its success.”
The gift comes as Europe’s business schools, which have lagged behind their US peers on fundraising, have enjoyed growing success courting donors, according to the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. The UK’s Imperial College Business School received a £20 million gift in 2013 from hedge fund Brevan Howard. And London Business School last year landed a £25 million donation from Jim Ratcliffe, chairman of chemicals company Ineos.
Business schools have increasingly relied on private donations as state funding in some EU nations has fallen.
However, Europe’s gifts are nowhere near the size of those received by US schools. Chicago Booth, Michigan Ross, Stanford and Columbia have all been gifted donations of $100 million or more.