The HEI supports its students, graduates and staff in starting, running and growing a business or new venture

An entrepreneurial and innovative HEI supports motivated students, graduates and all types of staff in taking their first steps in preparing for a start-up. This includes developing an idea, finding and building a team, and exploring the technical and market feasibility of a project and introducing staff to new networks.

Entrepreneurial and innovative higher education institutions offer business start-up education and training that is tailored to the different interests and needs of students from across all faculties. The primary purpose of business start-up education is to:

  • Develop entrepreneurial drive among students (raising awareness and motivation)
  • Train students in the skills they need to set up a business and manage its growth, and
  • Develop the entrepreneurial ability to identify and exploit opportunities

Business start-up courses are typically offered in business and economic studies, however, it should be open to all students because many innovative and viable business ideas are likely to arise from technical, scientific and creative studies. Another challenge is for HEIs to build interdisciplinary activities that support teamwork and allow for the development and exploitation of business ideas. Business start-up education should offer, therefore, diverse learning opportunities to encourage interaction among students, either through formal or informal learning approaches. Importantly, institution wide entrepreneurship education needs to secure buy-in from faculties that do not view entrepreneurship as relevant to their field.

To be effective, business start-up education needs teachers that have received training on entrepreneurship and business start-up, and ideally have first-hand experience. Teachers also require teaching materials that are appropriate for the level of student and to achieve the learning objectives in different disciplines. Staff career development and reward structures should recognise and encourage educators’ teaching in helping learners achieve the desired outcome and developing and sustaining the entrepreneurial ecosystem

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
  • Workshops
  • 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 for all interested stakeholders, students, graduates and staff alike. 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 off-campus support services. 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.

  • Guidance notes