Sean Branagan Receives Fulbright Specialist Fellowship for Digital Media Innovation Project in Estonia

What’s next in the digital media entrepreneurship space?

The answers to this question are what Sean Branagan ’80, director of the Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship and adjunct faculty member at the SI Newhouse School of Public Communications, hopes to sow through his Fulbright Specialist Fellowship project in Estonia this spring.

Sean Branagan

Branagan was awarded the prestigious scholarship to teach a digital media entrepreneurship course at the cutting-edge Tallinn University. He will work with students and faculty from the public research university’s School of Film, Media and the Arts and with community entrepreneurs for six weeks.

As part of the larger Fulbright Program organized by the U.S. Department of State, its Fulbright Specialist Fellowship is one of 400 typically awarded each year to professionals and scholars to share expertise, strengthen institutional partnerships, and gain knowledge. international experiences and other cultures. Grants are awarded based on academic and professional achievement, demonstrated leadership, and potential to foster cooperation.

Tallinn University is one of the three largest higher education institutions in Estonia and is ranked among the top 1,000 universities in the world. It promotes the realization of a “smart lifestyle” through education, research and interdisciplinary collaborations to promote the well-being of citizens and improve society.

A digital nirvana

The digital media landscape is at another moment of acceleration, Branagan says, and that’s what sparked his interest in the Fulbright Specialist program as he and his peers began to ask, “What’s next after the pandemic?

Estonia is a perfect place to gauge how the future of digital media might unfold, he says.

“It is one of the most digital countries in Europe and perhaps one of the most digital countries in the world. It’s Europe’s Silicon Valley, but with just 1.3 million people, it has the highest concentration of entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial “unicorns” in a community that’s only a fraction of the size of Silicon Valley.

Try your luck now

person standing and talking to students

Sean Branagan

Branagan plans to leverage the current disruptive state, a business environment conducive to innovation, and a world more open to change to teach Estonian students to take risks and create new types of media now. It foresees a whole new group of creative lifestyles and small businesses, new media platforms and new business models emerging from this era.

“Right now it’s all Game On. It feels like 2006 all over again, and I think we’re about to see another 20 years of major disruption in the media world. There will be new players, new centers media, new movies coming out of unusual places. It’s going to be a mix of things that used to be very distinct. So, it’s an opportunity again,” Branagan says. “New voices, new media owners and new types of media are creating new narratives that are changing our culture and our society.Media entrepreneurship is powerful.It is a very accessible type of entrepreneurship.I see it as a force multiplier for social change.

Branagan has been teaching digital media entrepreneurship since 2011, when the late Newhouse School Dean Emeritus Lorraine Branham “took a chance with me,” he says, and created the Center for Media Entrepreneurship. digital.

In addition to starting lifestyle businesses and high-tech ventures, Branagan served five years as entrepreneur-in-residence at Syracuse’s Technology Garden. He was instrumental in Syracuse University’s Kauffman-funded award-winning student startup accelerator, and is the creator and co-founder of Student Startup Madness, a national college startup tournament that culminated at SXSW. He has been involved from the earliest days of the Entrepreneurship Program at the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University, and still teaches entrepreneurship to transitioning military personnel through the Boots to Business program. He is also an advisor, board member and in other roles with several startups and early stage venture capital funds.

Three goals

The teacher has three objectives for the project. They should show students that entrepreneurship is a creative endeavor they can pursue freely, as opposed to a business mechanism or goal; helping professors put aside myths about who entrepreneurs are (“because the student who gets a C grade is more likely to innovate and do something creative, unusual, and nonconforming”); to share insights and soak up Tallinn’s startup community.

How will immersion in the Estonian innovation space change it?

“I want to come back and take a closer look at what we have built at Newhouse School around media entrepreneurship and media innovation. We have already expanded the academic offering inside the school,” says Branagan. “I would like to go further and bring media entrepreneurship to other parts of the Syracuse University campus to take advantage of the emerging creator economy. And then I would love to go beyond Syracuse University and bring the Newhouse brand of media entrepreneurship and media innovation to other schools, especially schools with underserved populations and around the world. Ultimately, we could have an institute that trains professors from around the world to teach media entrepreneurship in their curricula. »