When an entrepreneur launches a product or service, they often don’t know how consumers will respond. That’s exactly where Michael Goldberg found himself when he began teaching the “Beyond Silicon Valley: Growing Entrepreneurship in Transitioning Economies” massive open online course (MOOC) in 2014.

At the time, MOOCs—classes open to large groups of people from around the world at low or no cost—were just gaining traction. Among the first offerings based at Case Western Reserve University, Goldberg’s “Beyond Silicon Valley” found success and a captive audience, amassing a large following and growing to have real-world applications. 

And for Goldberg, it’s led to additional honors: Most recently, Goldberg earned his fourth Fulbright award—believed to be the most received by a CWRU faculty member—based on his work with the MOOC.

Late last week, Goldberg, executive director of the Veale Institute for Entrepreneurship, arrived back in Cleveland after traveling to Portugal for a Fulbright Specialist Program award with the Luso-American Development Foundation (FLAD), where he helped explore new opportunities for economic and entrepreneurial growth in the country’s Azores Islands region. His previous Fulbright awards sent him to Hanoi, Vietnam; Windhoek, Namibia; and Canary Islands, Spain, all with focuses on entrepreneurship.

The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to build lasting connections between the people of the United States and citizens of other countries.

Cleveland as a case study

Goldberg’s first Fulbright experience in Vietnam sparked the idea for “Beyond Silicon Valley.” Upon being asked to present a seminar on how Vietnam might become more like Silicon Valley, Goldberg realized the country was much more like Cleveland, and building an entrepreneurial ecosystem would look much more like Northeast Ohio than the Bay Area. 

And Vietnam wasn’t alone. Most regions won’t become Silicon Valley, but Goldberg felt Cleveland could become a case study for others. 

“Everyone talks wistfully about San Francisco and the Bay Area and everything it has, but most communities around the world aren’t anything close to that in terms of support and resources and access to capital,” Goldberg said. “It turns out that most of the world looks more like Cleveland than San Francisco, and so I think part of the success of the class has been connecting with communities that are, frankly, like Cleveland, struggling to build support for startup companies and entrepreneurs.”

As a result, Goldberg launched his MOOC, which has been accessed by more than 175,000 students from 190 countries. It also was the impetus for a collaboration between Goldberg and Dan Lacks in the Case School of Engineering for a 2016 trip to Namibia. Goldberg connected an entrepreneur he met during his Fulbright in the country with students who installed solar panels on homes in Namibia.

Goldberg initially collaborated with Luso-American Development Foundation in Portugal in March 2019 when he brought a group of Case Western Reserve MBA students to Lisbon as part of an international institute course. Goldberg participated in a workshop at the foundation titled “Beyond Silicon Valley: Sharing Ideas to Support the Growth of Entrepreneurship between Portugal and Cleveland.” 

That collaboration led the foundation to invite Goldberg to visit the Azores Islands through his most recent Fulbright, where he engaged with student entrepreneurs at the University of the Azores, worked with the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Ponta Delgada, and talked with local businesses about expanding Azorean companies into European and international markets. He also met with the Regional Directorate for European Affairs and External Cooperation in the Azores Government to exchange ideas “about how government programs can help catalyze entrepreneurship like we have seen in Ohio with our Ohio Third Frontier,” Goldberg said.

Now that he’s back in the U.S., Goldberg said he looks forward to continuing the dialogue with his colleagues overseas “to explore ways to help increase technology commercialization and university spin outs.”


For more information on applying to the Fulbright program, you can find details for students, as well as faculty opportunities through the Fulbright Specialist Program or the Fulbright Scholars Program.