HEC Paris’ €200M Campaign Includes Big Digital Investment

HEC Paris is looking to the future with its new 200 million euro campaign. That future will be a diverse one, the school says. HEC Paris photo

Calling it “Impact Tomorrow,” HEC Paris has launched a €200 million, five-year campaign that will be a major step in the school’s plan to become completely self-financing by 2050 — a goal that is “in keeping with leading Anglo-Saxon academic institutions,” the school announced Monday (June 24).

The campaign is aimed at answering new economic challenges and changes that are now reshaping higher education, according to an HEC news release, and is directed toward its graduates and the business community “in an effort to consolidate the school’s finances and to accelerate the speed of its transformations.” So far, HEC has raised €70 million in donations and pledges already thanks to 8,000 donors, 18% of whom are international graduates. Among the donors, 43 are partner companies.

HEC Paris’ previous fundraising campaign raised €112 million in the space of five years, well exceeding the target of €100 million.

“While our ambitions grow in direct correlation with societal issues, the question of the sustainability of HEC Paris’ economic model is at the heart of this fundraising initiative,” says Olivier Sevillia, president of the HEC Foundation, the government-recognized public-interest organization that contributes to the financing of HEC’s major strategic operations. “The HEC Foundation, which has become a strategic partner of HEC, will support the most important development axes of the school throughout this campaign. Our goal is to further mobilize our alumni and corporate partners around the evolution of their school, thus mirroring what is common practice in international business schools.


“To establish itself as a school of innovation,” says Eloic Peyrache, dean of programs, “HEC Paris puts a multidisciplinary approach and the complementarity of profiles at the very heart of its project.” HEC Paris photo

HEC Paris says one larger goal of the new campaign is greater social equality through “educating a generation of leaders able to withstand the urgent social and environmental challenges and to bring forward inclusive and environmentally sustainable models.” The school will seek to use the new campaign to establish itself as a “school in innovation” — one in which entrepreneurship is well nourished. “Entrepreneurship, the creation or the acceleration of companies, all the transformations that firms experience today, are essential subjects,” says Eloïc Peyrache, dean of programs. “To establish itself as a school of innovation, HEC Paris puts a multidisciplinary approach and the complementarity of profiles at the very heart of its project.”

The funds raised in the next five years will physically change the school, as well, including the creating of the Agora, a new “life-center” on the school’s campus outside Paris. Overall, says Dean Peter Todd, “Impact Tomorrow” will accelerate a renovation of the campus and “the development of strategic alliances with leading technological institutions.” A major priority: the development of a digital campus. “All are structuring points to be established by 2030,” Todd says. “We aim to become a reference European campus.”

Robin Ajdari, HEC’s chief digital officer, tells Poets&Quants that several developments will contribute to materializing the school’s digital campus in the future — part of them producing a growing share of online courses and programs, and another part embedding more and more digital experience inside our residential programs.

“Our focus at HEC Paris is to leverage digital technologies to deliver even higher quality programs to our students, and make them accessible to a wider international audience,” Ajdari says. “This is exactly what we have done with our online MSc in Innovation and Entrepreneurship, in partnership with Coursera, for which we’re just closing the admissions of the fourth cohort of students. In the near future, we will be developing several projects around blending degree programs on the one hand, and creating online offerings specifically targeted at the enterprise market on the other hand. In parallel, we are investing into technologies that enhance the HEC campus experience, such as classrooms technologies, and a mobile platform.”


HEC Paris’ ambitions with the new campaign are no less than creating a new model of business school for the 21st century. The school’s student population hails from over 100 countries (constituting 40% of total students), HEC wants to “reconcile economic performance with social and environmental impact” and reflect the diversity of society, with the new campaign seeking to “make an impact on the production of knowledge, on social and international diversity and on the school’s infrastructures.”

Until now, HEC Paris was significantly subsidized by the public sphere. That is about to change — and it will change with a major investment in the school’s faculty. In its announcement of the new campaign, the school says the first objective of the fundraising effort will be to invest heavily in the development of a “faculty of excellence.”

“Research,” the school says, “has always been a major focus for the school and HEC now wishes to recruit a growing number of professors and researchers, matching the student-faculty ratio of schools in the UK and North America.” Adds Jacques Olivier, dean of the faculty and research: “The main difference between the best universities in the world and the rest is the impact of the knowledge that is produced there, and its ability to change teaching, business models, public policy, or society. Chairs are an essential vehicle to attract or retain HEC research professors who produce and transmit knowledge at this level of impact.” 


Diversity — both social and international — is a huge motivator for HEC Paris in launching the new campaign. The school plans to make diversity both a yardstick of excellence and a strategic priority.

“This is an essential ingredient of progress and innovation, the founding values of our school,” says Hélène Bermond, equal opportunity delegate at HEC Paris. “We will continue to make room for all talented students, whatever their social, geographical or cultural origin, with more than 100 nationalities represented. The number of students receiving a scholarship on social criteria within the Grande École program has increased from 5% to 18% in the last ten years.

“Let us continue to make HEC Paris the most committed European business school in terms of social and international openness, and let us create an inclusive campus that benefits all students.”


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