Dragoș Vintilă

Fulbright-RAF Visiting Scholar, 2017-2018
 
“Meliora” – a new idea for romanian entrepreneurs

There are countless ways one can learn about entrepreneurship. One of them is experiencing the U.S. way of life. Essentially a society developed by businesspeople and entrepreneurs, it is bright, bold and fascinating. I have had the pleasure of being a Fulbright-RAF award winner and spent one semester at the Ain Centre for Entrepreneurship at the University of Rochester, NY. We participated in classes, attended business meetings, had wonderful discussions and traveled around the country for a while.

You learn, you try, and you apply. Education is continuous. We always strive for more, but reading every book ever written about rock climbing is nothing compared to reaching your first mountaintop. Nonetheless, that challenge would be impossible without some beforehand knowledge. Theory and practice are both required for success. Similarly, the gears of the entrepreneurial ‘engine’ work best when they are all nurtured. When we talk about entrepreneurship, we talk about knowledge, education, economy, innovation, R&D and people coming together, discussing and collaborating. The one thing I think is different and exciting in the United States and their entrepreneurial system is how these are all connected. Learning happens in classrooms and conference rooms. You discuss business plans with your partners and with your teachers.

Being a teacher myself, at the Ovidius University of Constanta, Romania, I have had the opportunity of placing myself both in the students’ and the professors’ seats during lectures. Here, the educational process is based on dialogue and is completed by self-study. The bibliography is flexible and most ‘assignments’ represent team projects with actual real-world applicability. The feedback is rich and valuable, and there are moments when you feel like you have transcended the lecture and landed in the middle of a business meeting. Students also have frequent mentor meetings, where they communicate with affluent businesspeople, hear their success stories, previous failures and advice for their future endeavors. It is an environment that stimulates, engages and fascinates everyone, inside and outside the University.

Furthermore, we took part in the pitch sessions at Excell Partners, where entrepreneurs present their design, concept and business approach, and gather the feedback and critique of the board. These weekly meetings gathered professors from all fields of study at the University of Rochester to discuss, analyze and eventually finance private ventures. As visiting professors, this was an invaluable process and learning experience, evaluating enterprises from diverse domains (e.g. medicine, navigation) while understanding the development strategies of American companies, allowing all that fit the criteria to participate, while choosing to finance only the best ideas and business plans.

We also had the opportunity to travel, visiting landmarks like the Niagara Falls, the Statue of Liberty and the National Mall, and other prestigious institutions like the MIT Innovation Initiative, the Harvard Innovation Lab, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine and the Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs. We met inspiring people, had productive discussions, visited magnificent places and ate mountains of pancakes each morning – providing energy for the day. Everything is connected.

“Meliora” is the official motto of the University of Rochester. The Latin noun or adjective is interpreted to mean “ever better” or “always better.” The faculty voted for it in 1851, and it continues to be used on the official logo and seal of the University.

My fulbright experience

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Students at the advising center

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Romanian-U.S. Fulbright Commission

Adress: 2 Ing. Nicolae Costinescu Street, sector 1, Bucharest, Romania
Phone: 021.230.77.19
Fax: 021.230.77.38
E-mail: office@fulbright.ro

Fulbright Educational Advising Center

Phone: 021.231.90.15
E-mail: feac@fulbright.ro

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