CUADERNO 64 CONFERENCE + JOUNRAL 2017 : Design-entrepreneurship in the post-recession economy

Design-entrepreneurship in the post-recession economy: Parsons’ ELab, a Design School Incubator

Co-Authors: Rhea ALexander, Aaron Fry, Samar Ladhib

Publication Number: ISSN: 1668-0227 (ISSN Online: 1853-3523)

Keywords: Academic Incubators; Design; Entrepreneurship; Higher education


The “great recession” of 2008-09 in the U.S. was a watershed moment in the development of business practices that hold promise in driving the creation of a new generation of American companies and re-invigorating established businesses.

These are i. the emergence of the sharing economy, ii. technological interconnectedness, iii. adoption of purpose-driven or cause-related value proposition(s) and iv. adaptability in the face of limited resources. This paper discusses the rise of design in the post-recession U.S. business landscape. We define attributes that designers share with entrepreneurs including adaptability, initiative, risk and failure-tolerance, ability to think-and-work across disciplines, creativity and a problem-solving mindset. We describe these new roles and ways of working and discuss how they might be combined with intellectual capacities and resources available in higher education. Specifically, we present Parsons’ Entrepreneurs Lab (ELab): a business incubator-design school hybrid that seeks to replicate the dynamic learning atmosphere of the post-recession American business landscape through a design-driven/socially-engaged networked model that addresses all four of the key dynamics driving start-up businesses in the post-recession environment.