Ovidiu N Bordean

Fulbright-RAF Visiting Scholar, 2019-2020
 
My Fulbright-RAF Journey: Discovering the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem from Rochester, NY

My Fulbright-RAF Journey started mid-August 2019 when I arrived in Rochester, NY together with my wife and my two children. I can say it was a dream come true. I’ve wanted to be part of the Fulbright family since I first met Dr. Daniel Glaser-Segura and Dr. Christopher Shook, two former Fulbright scholars to Romania. In 2008 I was invited by Dr. Daniel Glaser-Segura to visit Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio and gained an understanding of both the American higher education system and the American culture. In Rochester I embarked on a different journey as I was part of the fourth cohort of Romanian scholars who visited the University of Rochester in a program supported by the Romanian American Foundation. I have always had an interest in entrepreneurship as I teach and do research within this field. Hence, I saw the Fulbright-RAF scholarship at the Ain Center for Entrepreneurship of the University of Rochester as a great opportunity to find out more about the ways in which one could develop and apply an entrepreneurial mindset.

Rochester proved to be an excellent field laboratory to study entrepreneurship. The town is the birthplace of some of the most renowned manufacturing companies of industrial and consumer goods, including Eastman Kodak, Xerox and Bausch & Lomb. After the glory years, many of the companies that initially started in Rochester had to downsize and many of them had to re-locate to other parts of the USA. Even so, the rich technological heritage was still present and constituted the foundation for the actual businesses. Rochester area is now a diverse high technology environment as a result of the private startup enterprises that closely collaborate with major academic institutions. The University of Rochester and the Ain Center for Entrepreneurship, in particular, played a huge role in shaping the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the Upstate New York area. During the Fulbright-RAF program, I had the great chance to discover a devoted team working for the Ain Center to strengthen the entrepreneurship ecosystem through collaborations across the university and also with the Rochester community. I was amazed by the culture of networking that brought together students, alumni, local businesses, non-profit organizations and investors. All the stakeholders with an interest in entrepreneurship united in a common effort to bridging opportunities for the entrepreneurial activities. Every single activity within the program that was put together by our colleagues from the Ain Center of Entrepreneurship was a truly valuable learning experience. Not only that I had the chance to shadow classes and attend weekly mentoring meetings, but I also took an active role in several pitching events hosted by the University of Rochester, Rochester Angel Network and the VC fund called Excell Partners. The conferences I attended and all the other entrepreneurship centers I visited allowed me to better understand the way in which the entrepreneurial ecosystem was built and shaped.

Being a Fulbright-RAF scholar to the USA has been a highly rewarding experience. By taking place in the Fulbright Enrichment Seminar in Minneapolis at the beginning of November 2019 implemented by CIES on behalf of the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs I was able to delve deeper into understanding American history and culture. At the same time, I was the beneficiary of a travel scholarship from the Fulbright’s Outreach Lecturing Fund (OLF) that allowed me to visit Texas A&M University at San Antonio and give three talks to students and faculty members about the Fulbright program and also about the studying and teaching opportunities in Romania.

In closing, I would have to acknowledge that my Fulbright-RAF experience was one of the most rewarding events of my life. The extension of my Fulbright experience will consist of focusing on developing entrepreneurship related courses to be offered to students of the Babeș-Bolyai University and also establishing a business incubator to address the entrepreneurial needs of our students. Living and studying in the USA is an experience that will definitely have a positive impact upon my professional life. I strongly encourage my colleagues to apply for a Fulbright-RAF scholarship at the University of Rochester.

My fulbright experience

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Students at the advising center

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Romanian-U.S. Fulbright Commission

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