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The rapid growth of Internet based businesses that is occurring while mature business cannibalize each other through mergers suggests the power of the individual with a good idea. The question is how to transfer this knowledge to business. Universities, which are the sources of much new knowledge, can aid in this process. To demythify entrepreneurships, universities are rolling out programs to help those involved in creating enterprises be successful and those who might be interested in becoming an entrepreneur learn what it takes to succeed. The programs now appearing at engineering schools will help students address the realities of the modern workplace: the complexity of products and the nature of contemporary careers. For example, 30 years ago, 60% of America's top exports were simple manufactured products; today, a similar percentage are complex products made with complex manufacturing processes. And although educational programs (particularly at the doctoral level), are primarily analytic, the vast majority of jobs require integrative skills. Although NSF is not funding the entrepreneurship programs as such, several of its new research initiatives are relevant. First is research on the impact of information technology, including e-mail and online commerce, as part of the agency's Information Technology Research initiative. Second are efforts to develop a set of principles that can guide a corporate leader or CEO as he or she needs to transform the business entity in light of a rapidly changing economy and such issues as the effect of e-commerce on retail stores.
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