An alumnus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Sloan School of Management, Jean-Jacques Degroof has devoted more than 17 years to venture investment. In addition, Jean-Jacques Degroof served as a sponsor to the (MIT) chapter of Engineers Without Borders in 2010.
In 2017, Engineers Without Borders USA (EWB-USA) was able to secure a grant from the IKEA Foundation to support efforts to fight climate change in parts of Africa and Asia. The grant covers a three-year period and will see EWB-USA give technical advice to partners in the relevant regions regarding energy efficiency, renewable energy, the risk of flooding, and water supply.
In her comments regarding the award, the EWB-USA executive director, Cathy Leslie, referred to the organization’s role in the creation of sustainable solutions that took climate change into consideration and to its partnership with the IKEA Foundation. She stated that her organization was eager to help marginalized communities push back against climate change.
Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics
Venture capital investor Jean-Jacques Degroof mentors teams of young entrepreneurs in the technology sector. Additionally, Jean-Jacques Degroof has authored research papers on subjects related to entrepreneurship, one of which he presented at the 2003 conference of the Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics (SASE).
SASE is an international organization that brings together academics, business professionals, and government officials from more than 50 countries to explore and advance the understanding of economic behavior within a wide array of academic disciplines. Each year, SASE hosts a conference in a different city. The most recent conference, which was held at the University of California, Berkeley, in June 2016, featured panels, paper presentations, and mini-conferences with the theme of “Moral Economies, Economic Moralities.”
Along with an invitation to attend the annual conference, members of SASE receive a subscription to the journal Socio-Economic Review and access to a range of exclusive online resources available through the organization’s website. Members also have the opportunity to participate in the exploration of socio-economics within a network of other scholars on the subject.
Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government
A PhD graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dr. Jean-Jacques Degroof has served as a venture investor and teacher for more than a decade. A former Sloan fellow, Dr. Jean-Jacques Degroof was also a fellow at the Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government (M-RCBG) in 2003.
Part of Harvard University and its Kennedy School of Government, M-RCBG was established in 1982. Created to address issues in both the private and public sectors through its network of research centers and practical experience, M-RCBG focuses on policy applications in the real world. Its programs cover a wide range of areas, including corporate social responsibility initiatives, regulatory policy, and sustainability science.
– Corporate Social Responsibility Initiative. Launched in 2004, the initiative includes a number of organizations and the support of several corporations. The initiative maintains a business and international development program and a governance and accountability program, with both programs considering the social impacts and philanthropy efforts of corporations around the world.
– Regulatory Policy Program. Open to any Harvard University student, the program offers a variety of seminars and working papers to develop regulatory processes for all aspects of the business world. It also studies the impact of regulation and how different academic disciplines can contribute to effective regulatory strategies.
– Sustainability Science Program. The center of Harvard University’s teaching and research efforts on issues of sustainable development, the program seeks to advance action and understanding on the subject. A worldwide effort, it collaborates with organizations and research projects such as the National Academy of Sciences and the Initiative on Science and Technology for Sustainability.
“I came out of this conference with tons of ideas in my head, of course, but one of them is about the implication of this new digital economy on education and how we need to teach our children.”
“The way we educate children hasn’t changed much in the last 200 years, and is no longer well adapted to this new economy. Our model of education was built when we needed to produce clerks and workers in the food factories, so basically people who repeated mechanically day after day what they were told to do. Nowadays, we need another profile of workers that have more initiative [and] creativity, but the educational methods and models have not much changed. So I think young people are indeed bored at school. So that could be one explanation, but just one small part of the story.”
A researcher in entrepreneurship, Dr. Jean-Jacques Degroof has served as a researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Industrial Performance Center. Through his work with the center, Dr. Jean-Jacques Degroof was involved with the Local Innovation Systems (LIS) Project.
The LIS Project explored how universities can support local economic development through their contributions to local industrial innovation processes. In total, 22 localities in six countries were involved in the LIS Project. They included both high -tech and economically less favored regions.
Findings indicate that universities stimulate local innovation in several ways. Besides, their own discoveries, universities can attract new human, knowledge, and finances from other localities. They can adapt knowledge originating elsewhere to local conditions. They can help integrate previously separate areas of technological activity. They can unlock and redirect knowledge that is already present in the region but not being put to productive use. Often the universities’ most important contribution is education. Finally, their role as a public space for ongoing conversations about the future directions of technologies and markets is often overlooked.
LIS Project results show the limitations of a universal approach to local industrial innovation based on patenting and licensing intellectual property to local firms. The research’s conclusions suggest that the university contribution in local innovation processes depends on what kind of industrial transformation is happening in the local economy: new industry formation, industry transplantation, industry diversification, and industry upgrading.