HEInnovate and entreTime: How to grow ecosystems for entrepreneurship?

Chair: Zsuzsa Javorka, Technopolis Group

Moderator: Andrew Harrison, Learning Studio

Presenter: Klaus Sailer, Strascheg Center for Entrepreneurship

Panel members:

  • Klaus Sailer, Strascheg Center for Entrepreneurship
  • Gosia Mitka, University of St Andrews
  • Sven Sterzenbach, Munich University of Applied Sciences
  • Barbara Gabriel, University of Aveiro
  • Louisa Huxtable-Thomas, Swansea University


An international audience of 68 joined this webinar to explore how to grow ecosystems for entrepreneurship and learn about the entreTime toolkit for educators. entreTime is an EU funded initiative that developed a unique, ready to use "teach the teacher” massive open online course for educators interested in teaching entrepreneurship. The webinar opened with a short scene-setting presentation from Klaus Sailer, the CEO of Strascheg Centre for Entrepreneurship and the coordinator of the entreTime initiative.

Klaus highlighted, that old-fashioned attitudes in teaching entrepreneurship sometimes still persist, focusing predominantly on theoretical skills such as how to write a business plan. A more constructive approach lies in active and practical teaching equipping students with the skills, competences and experience they need to be able to address today’s challenges and the requirements of complex work environments. Entrepreneurship can be key to meeting these needs, but educators themselves must be trained in entrepreneurial competences in order to teach their students effectively. Educators need to be familiar with important trends in entrepreneurship, have to participate in knowledge sharing and working together in a community, further to gaining practical entrepreneurial experience. This understanding led to setting up the entreTime programme, which has by now successfully trained three cohorts, over 100 educators in total.

Following the introductory presentation, breakout room conversations engaged participants in discussion about their experiences and reflections around developing ecosystems of support for entrepreneurship focusing on two questions:

  • What are you curious about as a result of what you have heard? What more do you want to know about & explore?
  • What do you feel are the significant challenges of ‘growing ecosystems of support’?

The breakout room discussions raised further questions such as How to convince teachers to take responsibility? How do practitioners feed into the learning experience of participants and bring their knowledge to the way educational programmes are developed? How to incentivise professors to become actively involved when there are so many different pressures on their time? or How to engage learners? which were reflected upon in a short “fishbowl” conversation with five experts, participants and coaches of entreTime. The following list provides some key highlights from the discussion among the experts with the engagement of the participants during the webinar:

  • Diversity in entrepreneurship education is vital and achievable – there is a need to draw in educators from across a range of arts, humanities and science disciplines and to ensure that external perspectives and lived experience, especially from industry are also included
  • Using real life case studies e.g. from incubators, or industry can make entrepreneurship education engaging and demonstrate interdisciplinarity. Klaus and Sven, from different faculties at the same university, gave a well-received joint seminar on robotics and tourism, using practical illustrations from industry
  • Role models are key for student engagement through enthusiastic and energetic speakers and teachers with relevant "lived experience" e.g. CEOs, IP experts/patent attorneys, regulatory affairs experts. Recent graduates can be another source of role models
  • Introducing new ideas in highly regulated environments (e.g. universities) can be a major challenge. The right approach for getting entrepreneurship into the curriculum can be to start small and keep pushing. At the same time, there is a need to keep challenging rather than accepting the status quo, and pressing for evolution to address systemic issues
  • Entrepreneurship is not just about creating a company and becoming a CEO like Elon Musk. It is about meeting problems and solving them, with creativity and skills. There is a task value to being entrepreneurial
  • Communication can be improved around entrepreneurship education. A headline alone often is not enough to bring people on board. It is also about storytelling, overcoming assumptions, and understanding perspectives outside the entrepreneurship community
  • Triggering internal motivation is equally important. HEIs have the responsibility and capacity to wake up a sense of urgency around the extremely complex problems we face – this must be done by speaking to people’s values
  • Demonstrating the direct value of entrepreneurship education to educators and HEIs is an effective tactic. Developing entrepreneurship skills and competences can improve student performance in their core subjects, while making them more employable. This can break down barriers with teaching staff, who will be partly judged on student performance, and university management, who are keen to demonstrate graduate employability
  • Members of the entrepreneurship ecosystem need platforms where they can come together and solve problems — like entreTime — we can then more effectively spread the word to wider audiences. Recognition of the effort put into building the ecosystem and its tools is also important to the entrepreneurship education community

The recording of the webinar is available to watch online.

  • Webinar summary
Submitted by:
Zsuzsa Javorka
Submitted on:
25 Jul 2022