Mission & History

  • Frank Batten

    At the Batten Institute we know the transformative power of entrepreneurship. We are dedicated to the creation of knowledge that supports innovation and the cultivation of principled leaders. We believe that economic and social advancement requires leaders who embrace an entrepreneurial outlook and a commitment to innovation. Our mission has four components:

    Inspired Education

    Cultivate the next generation of entrepreneurial leaders through rigorous academic and experiential programs.

    Transformative Research

    Create thought leadership through a diverse portfolio of research projects of consequence to business and society.

    Consequential Voice

    Engage leaders through a broad array of channels to directly influence the world of practice. 

    Energetic Community

    Foster a diverse and collaborative community of scholars, students, alumni and practitioners.

    History of the Batten Institute

    In 1996, the Batten family of Norfolk, Virginia, and its Landmark Foundation, presented a generous gift to the Darden School, to be used for the establishment of a community of scholars and practitioners who would pursue leading-edge research and develop educational programs in entrepreneurship and innovation. This initial gift, provided by University of Virginia alumnus Frank Batten Sr., and his children Frank Batten Jr., (MBA '84), and Dorothy Batten, (MBA '96), led to the formation of the Batten Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership.

    In 2000, after a subsequent gift from Frank Batten, Sr., the former CEO and chairman of Landmark Communications and founder of the Weather Channel, the Batten Center became the Batten Institute. Charged with a mission to become a preeminent institution for thought leadership and educational preeminence, and to help create and disseminate knowledge in the fields of entrepreneurship and innovation, the institute set about forging ties with a wide range of organizations and individuals in the national and international business community.

    The early years of the Batten Institute were devoted to laying a foundation for the long term and to building momentum through a robust portfolio of programs, research projects and other knowledge-building activities. During these early years, the institute launched the Batten Fellows program, expanded its portfolio of research projects, launched the Darden Business Incubator, supported the development of numerous case studies and educational materials, hosted several conferences and many guest speakers, published books and a research-based newsletter (the Batten Briefings) and sponsored business plan competitions and other educational offerings for Darden students.

    The defining of terms was an essential task early on. "Entrepreneurship," the Institute's major stakeholders decided, would mean not just the act of starting a new business venture, but would be expanded to include the sort of opportunity-seizing and action-oriented behavior that is essential for sustained growth in companies both large and small. "Innovation" would not be just of the sort reflected in new products and services, but would also include new business models and processes, and new ways of thinking about value creation.

    As it moves past its startup days, the Batten Institute continues to find new ways to engage as an intellectual venture capitalist with an ever-expanding community of scholars and business practitioners. The institute is also focusing on how the principles of entrepreneurship and innovation can be applied to some of society's most pressing problems. To that end, the institute has distilled its broader focus on entrepreneurship and innovation into four fields of inquiry: organic growth, emerging markets, sustainability and health care. True to the concepts at the core of its mission, the institute will in the coming years look for new ways to engage the best thinkers, foster the generation of new knowledge and contribute to the creation of business and social value.