Cover art for podcast Social Entrepreneur

Social Entrepreneur

328 EpisodesProduced by Tony LoydWebsite

Social Entrepreneur exists at the intersection of profit and purpose. We tell positive stories from underrepresented voices, focused on solutions.


020, Fred Rose, Acara | Helping Solve Hard and Complicated Problems Across Boundaries

Fred Rose grew up on a family farm a few miles from the Canadian border. It was there that Fred learned several life lessons that make him a good entrepreneur: self-sufficiency, a lack of need for permission, perseverance. He was also a bit of an odd man out. Imagine the audacity of a kid in a one-room school house who dared to dream of growing up to be a scientist. Fred told me that he’s always had a bit of chip on his shoulder: a need to prove that he could do what others did not believe he could do.

Fred went to work in Silicon Valley in 1979, just as personal computers were on the rise. After a few years, he moved to Minnesota to pursue his degree from the University of Minnesota, where his love for computers began to bloom.

After graduation, he went to work for Honeywell where he had the chance to develop radiation-hardened computer chips for space flight. Today, some of his chips are in the Smithsonian Institute. Fred also worked on cutting edge projects including synthesis, where they describe hardware in the software and then compiling it directly to hardware. Through these experiences, Fred learned about the management of complexity.

Fred also worked on research projects for the US Department of Defense, within Honeywell as a principal researcher for DARPA. There he learned how to write grant proposals and describe value propositions.

In 1985, Fred and his wife had triplets who had serious medical complications. One of the triplets died, and the other two have cerebral palsy. When his daughters entered school in the early 1990s, he worked towards mainstreaming them. He was drawn into problem-based curriculum, where he found that he could use his skills.

In the late 1990s, Fred started a non-profit, High Tech Kids, to get kids involved in science and technology. Around this same time, Fred got involved in Honeywell’s business internationally, especially in India. These two things combined, put Fred on his current path which is, according to Fred “Helping people and creating organizations, to help them solve hard and complicated problems, outside of boundaries.”

Today, Fred is the co-founder and director of Acara, a program of the Institute on the Environment, at the University of Minnesota. Acara is a series of courses and incubation activities to turn the passion of students into viable social and environmental ventures.


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