Talking Urban Entrepreneurship in Shanghai


wdt at sjtu
Yours truly standing in front of historic main gate at Shanghai Jiao Tong University

I recently returned from a trip to Shanghai, China. The main purpose was to visit my daughter Stacy, who is working there as an executive with Nike Inc. While there, I visited Shanghai Jiao Tong University to explore the Joint Institute they share with University of Michigan, to talk to the leadership of their new Center for Entrepreneurship, and to give a lecture on Urban Entrepreneurship in one of their classes. My hosts at SJTU were Dr. Pradeep Ray, Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship, and Professor Sam Ro. I gave the lecture to Dr. Ro’s class.

WDT lecture at SJTU
Presenting lecture on Urban Entrepreneurship to Dr. Sam Ro’s class at Shanghai Jiao Tong University.

I found the visit stimulating and inspiring. The students in Dr. Ro’s class were interested and engaged, and we had a lively discussion about applying new business models and technology to the solution of urban problems. China has been urbanizing rapidly for the past 50 years or more, so issues of urban entrepreneurship and sustainability resonate strongly there. China has pioneered developments in mobility, service and product delivery, green energy, and more, and I found that the students there, like students in the U.S., want to have impact in these areas.

WDT and Dr. Sam Ro
With Dr. Sam Ro, my host at SJTU/U-M Joint Institute.

I had good and productive discussions with Drs. Ro and Ray, and we agreed that strong possibilities for further collaboration exist. Chinese entrepreneurs can learn from business models and processes that we employ in the U.S., and we can learn from business models that entrepreneurs in China and many other countries are deploying. I look forward to exploring these possibilities.

SJTU students
Students in Dr. Sam Ro’s class were interested and engaged.

A few days before my visit to SJTU, I took part in the University of Michigan Asia Alumni Reception at the Edition Hotel in Shanghai. Mark West, U-M Law School Dean, was the speaker at the reception, and many Asia alums of U-M were in attendance. I was pleased to reconnect with Ziqi Guo, a Chinese student who I met in Ann Arbor and who returned to China after graduation. It was a lively affair, and heartening to hear a group of Asia-based alums singing “The Victors” in Shanghai.

WDT and Mark West
With Mark West, U-M Law School Dean, Speaker at University of Michigan Asia Alumni Reception.

Overall, it was a good and productive visit. Thanks to U-M College of Engineering (CoE) Dean Alec Gallimore and Christine Muchanic of CoE Development for facilitating my connection with SJTU. Thanks especially to Dr. Pradeep Ray, Dr. Sam Ro, and the students in Dr. Ro’s class for a memorable day.

u-m china lapel pin
This lapel pin is a symbol of U-M/China cooperation.


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