2023 Best Undergraduate Professors: Erik Noyes, Babson College


Erik Noyes
Babson College


“Erik Noyes is one of the most innovative teachers in Babson College’s entrepreneurship division, offering new interdisciplinary courses that intersect current trends with entrepreneurship, which helped earn him the Dean’s Award for Teaching Excellence in 2023. In 2023, he co-led the creation of The Generator, an interdisciplinary AI lab that applies breakthrough advances in generative AI to entrepreneurship and innovation. He teaches Entrepreneurial Opportunities in AI at Babson, among other graduate and undergraduate entrepreneurship courses.” – Victoria Newell  

Erik Noyes, 52, is an Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship at Babson College.  His research examines entrepreneurship education, disruptive innovation, and AI. He is the founding Faculty Director of the Weissman Foundry, an interdisciplinary collaboration between Babson College, the Olin College of Engineering, and Wellesley College.

At Babson, Professor Noyes teaches Entrepreneurial Opportunities in AI, The Entrepreneurial Innovator, Crowdfunding, and Foundations of Management & Entrepreneurship. He has won different national and international teaching awards – in 2023, Professor Noyes won Babson’s college-wide award for teaching excellence.

Professor Noyes is a founding editor of the journal Entrepreneurship Education & Pedagogy (EE&P).  Prior to joining Babson, he was an innovation consultant for companies such as Nokia, BMW, Hewlett-Packard, New Balance, and Motorola to identify and evaluate new growth businesses. 


At current institution since what year? 2007


  • B.A. Brown University, International Relations & Economics 
  • M.B.A. University of New Hampshire, Innovation Leadership
  • D.B.A. Boston University, Strategy & Policy

List of Undergraduate courses you teach: Entrepreneurial Opportunities in AI, The Entrepreneurial Innovator, Crowdfunding, and Foundations of Management & Entrepreneurship 


I knew I wanted to be a business school professor when … I worked in innovation consulting with Fortune 100 companies, and I saw reoccurring obstacles to strategic innovation: a lack of understanding of customers’ true needs, and a lack of imagination and industry foresight. I wanted to both research these areas and be in a position to teach emerging business leaders.

What are you currently researching and what is the most significant discovery you’ve made from it? Since completing a Machine Learning program at M.I.T. in 2020, I’ve been fascinated by the potential of AI, and specifically deep learning, to drive a new wave of entrepreneurship and innovation across all industries. I use AI in my courses to teach new approaches to the rapid prototyping of entrepreneurial ideas. My research on generative adversarial networks, a seminal form of generative ai, suggests AI can help business leaders visualize the emergence of innovative new product categories which shape industry structure and create new wealth. 

If I weren’t a business school professor, I’d be … A professional walker, if that’s a thing. I love walking. 

What do you think makes you stand out as a professor? I push my students to take creative leaps – to act, to try, to stretch. I can also give painfully direct feedback, which my students claim they appreciate.

One word that describes my first time teaching: Exhilarating. I taught high school for a semester while completing college and I was hooked. 

Here’s what I wish someone would’ve told me about being a business school professor: How the opportunities to explore your interests are endless, and all of the different hats you can choose to wear in academia.

Professor I most admire and why: My colleague Candy Brush. She spearheaded women’s entrepreneurship research, beginning decades ago. She’s also a gifted educator and role model to so many in my field.  


What do you enjoy most about teaching business students? I love my students’ ambition and desire to reshape the world. On a daily basis they’re self-actualizing and fighting the good fight, and that inspires me. 

What is most challenging? When a student asks how to get an “A” on the first day of class, but then shows little demonstrable enthusiasm for learning. 

In one word, describe your favorite type of student: Visionary and contrarian (two words, I know)

In one word, describe your least favorite type of student: Entitled. 

When it comes to grading, I think students would describe me as … Fair. 


What are your hobbies? Design, making and creating in all ways possible. I designed and built a contemporary off-grid post and beam cabin a few years ago. 

How will you spend your summer? Researching AI’s ability to support entrepreneurs in the innovation process, particularly for the rapid prototyping and development of entrepreneurial ideas. 

Favorite place(s) to vacation: Greece/Italy/India

Favorite book(s): This Explains Everything: Deep, Beautiful, and Elegant Theories of How the World Works, a compendium by John Brockman, 2013.

What is currently your favorite movie and/or show and what is it about the film or program that you enjoy so much? The documentary AlphaGo about AI. It’s effective at conveying how AI has the potential to dramatically improve the wellbeing of humankind as well as key risks. 

What is your favorite type of music or artist(s) and why? Funk. 


If I had my way, the business school of the future would have much more of this … Great leaders and innovators are whole people, blending their humanity and business acumen. Top business schools of the future will have a palpable zeal for interdisciplinary thinking and interdisciplinary collaboration across their faculty and students alike. The emerging AI-age makes interdisciplinary thinking that much more important. 

In my opinion, companies and organizations today need to do a better job at …Futurism – imagining and forecasting disruptive change in their industries. Mentally living in the future. 

I’m grateful for … My family, friends, and exceptional colleagues. 


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