HBS Professor Receives Entrepreneurship Award

A conglomerate of Swedish economic associations has awarded Harvard Business School professor Josh Lerner the 2010 Global Award for Entrepreneurship Research “for his pioneering research into venture capital (VC) and VC-backed entrepreneurship.”

“Twenty years ago, entrepreneurial finance was a backwater,” said Lerner, who teaches in the Business School’s Finance and Entrepreneurial Management Units and is an affiliate at the Arthur Rock Center for Entrepreneurship. “Over time it’s becoming a more legitimate field, because it’s so linked to economic growth.”

Lerner, who has taught at the Business School since 1991, is known for having pioneered a popular elective course on venture capital and private equity. His research also touches upon issues related to intellectual property.

Lerner is the first Harvard faculty member to be awarded this prize. He will receive a 100,000-euro ($137,400) prize, along with a replica of “The Hand of God,” a sculpture created by Swedish artist Carl Milles. Lerner will also be honored at an award ceremony in Sweden in May.

He said he plans to use his winnings to help pay off his mortgage.

In recent years, the Business School has pushed to promote an entrepreneurial spirit among students, faculty, and alumni.

All students are now required to take a course on entrepreneurship, and the Business School hosts several annual contests awarding prizes for the best student- or alumni-submitted plans for starting a new business.

According to Business School professor Toby E. Stuart, Lerner has played a key role in the development of the study of entrepreneurship in academia at large.

“He has pulled together and built a community of academics interested in entrepreneurship from all over the world,” Stuart said. “He’s a real dynamo ... no one works as hard or produces as much work as he does.”

For instance, Lerner headed an international team of academics to study the economic impact of private equity at the World Economic Forum at Davos, a conference attended by several top Harvard administrators and faculty last month.

Lerner said he considered the award to be “a real honor” as a recognition of his contributions to the field.

The prize, which was established in 1996, is given to individuals who have made “prize worthy contribution[s]” that are “original and influenial.”

­—Staff writer Tara W. Merrigan can be reached at tmerrigan@college.harvard.edu.

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