In January, the United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (USASBE) convened in Philadelphia its annual conference—the country’s largest gathering of entrepreneurship educators and researchers (over 600 attendees). This year, the USASBE gave its Best Research Paper Award to Professors Cesar Bandera and Ellen Thomas from NJIT's Martin Tuchman School of Management for their work on business incubation titled “Social Capital, Density, and Startup Survival.” Professors Bandera and Thomas demonstrate that simply providing a well-managed entrepreneurial ecosystem (such as NJIT’s own Enterprise Development Center) is not enough to impact the survival and growth of startups; instead, it is more important to new venture performance that the entrepreneurs themselves interact with other entrepreneurs in that ecosystem.

“It is like the adage ‘You can bring a horse to water but you can’t make him drink,'” commented Bandera. “As entrepreneurship instructors and administrators of entrepreneurial ecosystems, it is our duty to impress on young entrepreneurs the importance of building meaningful social capital that is measured not by the size of their social media networks, but by collaborations that yield a competitive advantage.”