The ongoing conversation about the reciprocal relationship between research/academia and industry is a fact. Research and industry experts have tried to determine the importance of this relationship, defining the benefits of building this rapport and bridging the gap that currently exists but also to understand the difficulties and challenges that both parties face when trying to come closer together. It is an undoubted fact that industry cannot act separately from universities and vice versa also holds. The influence of industry on researchers becomes stronger, while universities and research organisations, as generators of innovations, cooperate in the process of knowledge generation and become a vital part of the industry world.
ENTRANCE: “Enhancing the ENTRepreneurial mindset of non-business Academics in Europe” is a European project that aims to introduce and promote aspects of entrepreneurial education to non-business academics and students in HEIs. Specifically, the goal of ENTRANCE is twofold: First, it considers how academics can integrate and build their students’ entrepreneurship skills during their teaching regardless of their academic discipline. Secondly, it aims to reinforce the enterprising competencies of non-business academics (such as academics from the areas of Humanities, Arts, Education etc.) and eventually of students in order to become capable of identifying opportunities and developing ventures, through becoming self-employed, setting up new businesses (start-ups) or developing and growing part of an existing venture (e.g., spin-off).
The initial stage of the project entailed an analysis of the current state-of-the-art in entrepreneurial education in Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and non-business curricula fostering an entrepreneurial mindset. For this purpose, primary research took place in March-April 2021 in all participating countries (Cyprus, Greece, Lithuania, Portugal) administering an online survey to non-business academics from different disciplines. This article presents some highlights of the results mainly considering the possible challenges non-business academics have faced in their attempt to enter the world of entrepreneurship and their entrepreneurial competencies.
The results revealed that almost 65% of the respondents (all non-business academics) have thought of exploiting and developing a business idea. Although the majority of the respondents declared their willingness to create a business venture, a variety of challenges faced have been noted (or continue to face) or have held them back in their attempt to develop and implement it. Considering the results across participating countries, two main challenges have been identified. First, non-business academics declared their concern regarding the time they need to embark in such exploitation/entrepreneurial activities and the time they devote to research. They are concerned that their research demands will leave them no time for organisational activities. Another important challenge that respondents face is their lack of prior experience in exploiting their research findings or embarking on entrepreneurial activities (e.g., development of a business plan).
Τhe results have also shown that non-business academics hold essential entrepreneurial competences such as the development of an action plan which includes the basic steps to achieve the goals of their idea/activity (e.g., set milestones). This may be attributed to the fact that academics have a strong knowledge and experience of how to organise and run research projects. However, the data coming from each country showed that respondents do not hold those competencies that are important to launch a business. Considering the question of whether a non-business academic can develop a business plan describing how to achieve the goals of his/her idea/activity, it is found that in all participating countries a small number of academics hold this competence (see the following graph).
Consequently, ENTRANCE training programme recognises that many academics coming from different disciplines select to create their own business in parallel with their academic duties and support them by providing the broad knowledge and understanding of the entrepreneurial and innovation agenda and by equipping them with those competences that are prerequisites for the process of a new venture creation.
ENTRANCE is coordinated by GrantXpert Consulting along IDEA Incubation/Acceleration Centre and other partners from Greece (Institute of Entrepreneurship Development), Portugal (University of Beira Interior) and Lithuania (Kaunas University of Technology).
Project Manager & Researcher
GrantXpert Consulting Ltd