Entrepreneurs have always been Eric Morse’s kind of people.
“My ‘why?’ has always been to help others succeed,” the Ivey Business School professor explained. “I love entrepreneurs; I love working with them; I love to see them succeed. Entrepreneurs tend to be optimistic, action-oriented and passionate – and those are fun people to be around.”
Today, Morse finds himself charged with fueling entrepreneurial success across the entire campus after being named Special Advisor to the President and Director of Entrepreneurship at Western for a three-year term, effective July 1, university officials announced this week.
Morse is currently Executive Director of Ivey’s Pierre L. Morrissette Institute for Entrepreneurship, prior to which he has served in other senior administrative roles at Ivey including Associate Dean (Programs). He is also the founder and Academic Director for Ivey’s QuantumShift Program.
“Cultivating an entrepreneurial culture at Western is an institutional priority,” explained Janice Deakin, Provost and Vice-President (Academic). “I am confident Eric’s leadership will help our campus community make great strides in this regard.”
Among his new responsibilities, Morse will lead the Western Entrepreneurship Steering Team (WEST) and Propel Entrepreneurship; serve as Chair of the WEST Entrepreneurship Group; take on shared supervision of the Director of Propel, alongside the Associate Vice-President (Student Experience); and work with Advancement to develop a sustainability plan for the Western Entrepreneurship ecosystem.
Morse will continue providing ongoing leadership of the Morrissette Institute while fulfilling some continued teaching responsibilities within the business school.
But this is more than “an Ivey thing.” In this newly created role reporting to the university president, Morse will lead efforts across the entire university.
In recent years, Western has embraced the “enormous potential on this campus” and brought together some of its best minds to mobilize the university’s entrepreneurial activity into an ecosystem open to any member of the university, Morse explained. Named Western Entrepreneurship, it has been charged with one goal: Make Western the university that best develops entrepreneurs.
Today, the cross-campus network allows any member of the university to gain entrepreneurial skills, foster innovation through interdisciplinary collaboration and provide and/or receive support for new ventures at every stage of development.
“By incorporating all faculties and units, we ensure that if someone has a good idea, or wants to pursue an entrepreneurial path, we will find them,” Morse said. “And once we do, we will bring them into an ecosystem that can help nurture that idea and develop their capability set.”
The position builds on a strong, existing foundation of entrepreneurship, Morse stressed.
“Western is not starting from scratch. We have been in the entrepreneurial game a long time,” he explained, citing foundational Western institutions like the Morrissette Institute, QuantumShift, Propel and WORLDiscoveries.
Western is not alone in this space – many peer institutions have dramatically increased the entrepreneurial programming they provide. So, what sets Western apart? It’s about the people, Morse stressed.
“We are not just about widgets or the latest app. We are about creating an entrepreneurial spirit and capability set that lasts a lifetime,” he continued. “We shape people who think, innovate and problem-solve as entrepreneurs for their entire careers, and then connect them to each other through our powerful network of alumni.”
Although he got his start as an engineer, Morse found his calling in business, teaching others the ins and outs of being a successful entrepreneur.
After graduating with an undergraduate degree in engineering from Texas Tech University, Morse was working on the commercialization process at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. It was there his career path took a turn.
“I figured out quite quickly I didn’t have the business background to make as much as a difference as I wanted to,” Morse said.
After consulting with a number of companies for a few years after getting his MBA, Morse returned to academia – this time to complete a PhD in entrepreneurship and strategy. His hope was to uncover ways to make building a business a more systematic process.
“There is no recipe. That being said, we know certain business attributes increase your chance of success and that other attributes increase your chance of failure, if you can increase the former while eliminating the latter you can increase your chance of success substantially. We are much better at identifying why something went wrong than we are at identifying all the necessary conditions that make something work. It’s always been that successful entrepreneurs tried something, learned quickly and transitioned based on that learning. We can help entrepreneurs shorten that cycle.”
Following his doctorate degree, Morse helped launch an entrepreneurship institute at the University of Victoria. It was this work that brought Ivey knocking.
At Ivey, Morse founded the QuantumShift Executive Program for Exceptional Entrepreneurs. This successful program, which has been running for the past 15 years, helps established Canadian entrepreneurs take their business to the next level of success.
“It’s been a really fulfilling and rewarding program. That’s a group that really does drive the Canadian economy,” said the Entrepreneurship Education professor.
Morse is proud of the direction the university is heading in terms of supporting budding entrepreneurs.
“We have a chance to make a real difference here. The cross-campus approach we have will give us a competitive advantage, with some great minds working from so many different perspectives. We’re going to have expertise across the board to support entrepreneurs.”
Morse has served on the board, been an advisor to, founded, or been an investor in a variety of entrepreneurial start-ups and actively consults with both private and government enterprises. He has worked with a diverse range of corporate clients including some of the most recognized dynamic brands in Canada.
His current research focuses on entrepreneurial cognition, entrepreneurial strategy and high growth enterprises.