Brett Anitra Gilbert, assistant professor of management at Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School, has been chosen as one of five recipients of the annual Kauffman Junior Faculty Fellowship in Entrepreneurship Research. The fellowship will provide Texas A&M with a grant of $50,000 over two years to support Gilbert’s research activities.

Other recipients of this year’s Kauffman Fellowships hail from Harvard University and UCLA.

Brett A. Gilbert

This prestigious award recognizes tenured or tenure-track junior faculty members at accredited U.S. universities who are beginning to establish a record of scholarship and exhibit the potential to make significant contributions to the body of research in the field of entrepreneurship.

Gilbert’s research focuses on the effect of clustering on innovation. Her research asks whether having a cluster of related business in the same region (e.g. Silicon Valley) advances or hinders innovation. With this new source of funding, Gilbert will examine how clustering impacts new ventures in the area of disruptive technology  (innovations that will eventually replace an older technology completely). Specifically, she plans to look at innovations in hydrogen and fuel cell technologies.

“What I’m trying to understand is whether or not clustering helps to encourage or discourage innovation,” said Gilbert. “There’s a lot of literature that shows clusters are very conducive to innovation activity, but then there’s also literature which suggests that clusters tend to create group think and can be discouraging of new thought…This could actually prohibit any new technological paradigms from being created within a cluster.”

Gilbert says that the Kauffman funds will accelerate her research as she compares regions where hydrogen and fuel cells are and are not being developed and analyzes the differences between the two types of regions. The additional funding will allow her to travel domestically and internationally to interview entrepreneurs in this field and to learn how clustering is impacting their ability to bring these new products to the marketplace. It will also help her understand the general challenges these entrepreneurs are facing in commercializing hydrogen and fuel cell technologies, and how they are circumventing those challenges.

The Kauffman Foundation has ties to the political arena and Gilbert says this research could one day have an influence on public policy. “I hope that this research will inform various government agencies as to what needs to be in place for these truly new technological paradigms to emerge,” she said. She also hopes that her work will advance hydrogen and fuel cell innovations and other green technologies, which she sees as important technologies with an unfortunate “liberal” stigma.

“I want to help eliminate some of the barriers so that these technologies can be brought to the marketplace,” Gilbert said.

Fellow Mays faculty member Duane Ireland nominated Gilbert for this award. “I was honored to nominate Brett for this prestigious fellowship,” Ireland said. “The research she is conducting in the entrepreneurship domain is truly significant. In this sense, she is examining questions with the potential to meaningfully inform both future academic scholarship as well as entrepreneurial practices. I am extremely pleased to learn that Brett’s work and talent are being appropriately recognized.”

According to the Kauffman website, the fellows program will help to launch world-class scholars into a young and exciting field of research, thus laying a foundation for future scientific advancement. The findings generated by this effort will be translated into knowledge with immediate application for policymakers, educators, service providers, and entrepreneurs as well as high-quality academic research.

Gilbert holds a PhD in entrepreneurship from Indiana University. Before joining the faculty at Texas A&M in 2007, she taught entrepreneurship courses at Georgia State University for three years.

About the Kauffman Foundation

The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation is a private nonpartisan foundation that works to harness the power of entrepreneurship and innovation to grow economies and improve human welfare. Through its research and other initiatives, the Kauffman Foundation aims to open young people’s eyes to the possibility of entrepreneurship, promote entrepreneurship education, raise awareness of entrepreneurship-friendly policies, and find alternative pathways for the commercialization of new knowledge and technologies. It also works to prepare students to be innovators, entrepreneurs and skilled workers in the 21st century economy through initiatives designed to improve learning in math, engineering, science and technology. Founded by late entrepreneur and philanthropist Ewing Marion Kauffman, the Foundation is based in Kansas City, Mo. and has approximately $2 billion in assets.