Having an idea is only one step on the road to becoming an entrepreneur. In order to take an idea and put it in action, entrepreneurial and innovative HEIs provide individuals and groups with a range of support services and opportunities which use numerous approaches for entrepreneurship development. Entrepreneurial and innovative HEIs offer support for network development to provide students with opportunities to interact with entrepreneurs.
Within business start-up education, students can develop entrepreneurial ideas through their project works. This can be accomplished through:
- The organisation of charity events;
- Student consultancy projects; and
- The development of their own project.
Recent trends in entrepreneurial and innovative HEIs are to create cross-disciplinary teams and courses that allow students from different faculties to work together. Integrating students with diverse backgrounds, interests and skill-sets can produce positive outcomes. Business start-up education should offer, therefore, diverse learning opportunities to encourage interaction among students, either through formal or informal learning approaches. This also includes leveraging social media to create peer-to-peer learning opportunities outside of the classroom.
Outside of the classroom, a range of stakeholders can have an important role in encouraging and supporting students in developing their ideas. Role models, coaches and mentors from within the HEI, business and student communities can inspire and support students in developing and exploiting their ideas. Student organisations and clubs have the potential to take a leadership role in promoting entrepreneurship among their membership. Higher education institutions can facilitate interaction between these different role models and other actors from the business community through project work and events. This could include, for example:
- Short-term start-up projects;
- Idea generation and business competitions;
- Social events; and
- Start-up weekends.
It is also critical for entrepreneurial and innovative HEIs to offer access to a comprehensive range of business start-up support services. This could include:
- Business incubation;
- Coaching and mentoring;
- Facilitating access to financing;
- Intellectual property management;
- Expert advisory panels to support the development of early stage concepts;
- Financial assistance for the development of prototypes and feasibility studies; and
- Assisting in the development of business plans.
It is not necessary for an HEI to offer all support internally. It can often be more efficient to develop partnerships with professionals in the business community and direct students to off-campus support services. Attention should be paid to the matching of personality between student and graduate entrepreneurs, and experienced entrepreneurs. HEIs can also play a role in supporting staff in taking their ideas to market. They can offer rewards and incentives to encourage their involvement in entrepreneurship activities. Examples include:
- Development sabbaticals;
- Additional monetary resources (budget, personnel, infrastructure);
- Reduced teaching and administrative responsibilities; and
- Study visits and training.
Another important measure for encouraging staff to adopt entrepreneurial behaviour is to inform them about how the HEI deals with intellectual property rights and their ability to monetise their business idea within the institution’s systems. Entrepreneurial and innovative HEIs often assign full ownership of the intellectual property to the staff or student that developed the idea.