Debrief: LIU innovation chair, not in Kansas anymore

Will travel: Kansas City-based entrepreneurism expert Dane Stangler is the first person to occupy LIU-Post's Vorzimer Endowed Chair in Entrepreneurship.

As the first person to occupy Long Island University-Post’s Vorzimer Endowed Chair in Entrepreneurship – the “charter chair,” according to the school – Dane Stangler is all about breaking new ground. The visiting (and first-time) professor, who will also help drive LIU Post’s T. Denny Sanford Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, will leverage lessons gleaned during an impressive rise to nationally renowned entrepreneurship expert, including a term as VP of research at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and his current policy-wonk work for Startup Genome and the Progressive Policy Institute. Stangler, who earned a J.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and will travel to Brookville often from his Kansas City base (he lives in Kansas and works in Missouri) to teach and support the Sanford Institute, is rapidly assimilating the specifics of Island entrepreneurship. His notes so far:   

Take a seat: It’s flattering, of course. There are high expectations from the university itself and also from the donors, and I hope we can live up to those and serve the students and the community well. It’s a lot of pressure, but it’s also flattering and I’m excited to do it.

Post with the most: I’m very impressed with the university itself. I’ve been there three times now just discussing this position, and I’ve been very impressed with the faculty. It’s a gorgeous physical location with great amenities. I had an opportunity to participate in the Summer Honors Institute with high school students from around the country and I was really impressed with the quality of that program, and the quality of the global-studies program as well.

Working at Denny’s: There are some startup companies in the T. Denny Sanford Institute already, but one goal will be to continue expanding it, to get more startups in there. Not just startups from Long Island, but startups from elsewhere, to come and relocate there and give students the experience of working for startups. We also want to help the startups interact with the faculty, to get more collaboration across the boundaries of innovation and entrepreneurship and really help accelerate entrepreneurship across the region.

Laws of attraction: Post has a lot to offer startups. In addition to the university’s assets, it’s advantageous being in the State of New York, with all of the benefits like the Start-Up NY program and others. You’re also close to the city without being in the city. And with all of the innovation activity happening on Long Island, there are a lot of benefits – maybe not moving your entire company here, but, say, opening your American office on Long Island. I think these links are very important to both the university and the companies, this connectedness.

Strong foundation: At the [Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation], we did quite a bit of grantmaking and interacted extensively with universities. We gave grants to exactly the kinds of programs we have [at LIU-Post]. I’m hoping to bring some of those lessons, both positive and negative, from the foundation to this role. We gave out millions of dollars and learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t.

In his genes: What we do at Startup Genome is data assessment of startup ecosystems – benchmarks and baselines. I think we have a good understanding of how these ecosystems operate in cities and other regions, and it almost always involves a university. I’m excited to incorporate some of the lessons we continue to learn into the LIU-Post entrepreneurship programs.

When worlds collide: The Progressive Policy Institute is a thinktank and it’s been around for a while. I focus on growth and innovation policy. We work at the national level and look at state and regional policies for growth and innovation, such as Start-Up NY. It will be really interesting to see how these two roles intersect and see what works, what needs to change and how we can bring what’s working here beyond New York.

Regional review: My perspective on the Long Island innovation economy is definitely underdeveloped. I’ve certainly become familiar with the university and all the resource it offers, and I’m seeing that there are a number of strong assets on Long Island, including one of the major research institutions in the world in Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. And you have a highly educated population, which is another key resource. I definitely look forward to learning more.

Well, it IS a school: The No. 1 goal for me and the college remains serving the students. I’m really excited about the opportunity to teach and to be out there as an ambassador for the university. Goal No. 2 is the great opportunity afforded us by Mr. Sanford, and of course we have high ambitions for that. And I’d like to contribute to building up the global MBA program, which will benefit both the university and the regional entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Interview by Gregory Zeller. Want to share your interesting view of Long Island’s innovation economy, or suggest someone who could? Pitch me a Debrief at

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