The rise of social entrepreneurship was fostering an increasingly engaging approach among students entering competitions that solved real-life issues rather than merely entertaining competitions on theoretical cases, research from the Denmark-based Aarhus University has revealed.
Presenting the study findings to the third International Conference on Innovation and Entrepreneurship held in Durban, South Africa, from 19-20 March, the head of open innovation at the Aarhus University Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Rajiv Basaiawmoit, said students engaging in competitions of this nature could witness the impact their research was making.
Correspondingly, the university could see the development of entrepreneurial skills. “It is not enough to just develop entrepreneurial intent, but essential to convert that into nascent entrepreneurship,” he said.
Social entrepreneurship draws on business techniques to find solutions to social problems. Aarhus University teaches entrepreneurship to every faculty, with the view to boosting the entrepreneurial mindset among graduates and creating a broad spectrum of new entrepreneurs.
Basaiawmoit said there was growing demand from students for social entrepreneurship and business schools, specifically in the United States and Europe including Scandinavia, where students were increasing their focus on this element of entrepreneurship and innovation.
“There is a need to take the good in capitalism and the good in social entrepreneurship and combine them to shift the world forward – to push business to think about the societies around them,” he said.
Produce entrepreneurs, not graduates
Lester Lloyd-Reason, professor of international enterprise strategy at Anglia Ruskin University in the UK and director of the Centre for Enterprise Development and Research, or CEDAR, said higher institutions should be “churning out entrepreneurs not graduates”.
The consequence was that higher institutions were not attracting entrepreneurs into their corridors, effectively leaving the bulk of entrepreneurial people in the cold to individually learn the mistakes they could have avoided via a formal education.
Lloyd-Reason said a collaboration between academics, entrepreneurs and business would identify clear objectives for entrepreneurial development in higher education.
One indisputable element was that when people were not thinking in boxes and were prepared to meld different elements of their lives together holistically, entrepreneurial ventures could emerge.
In this context, he believed that the United Kingdom did not understand entrepreneurship, given that only 5% of the country's businesses qualified as such. Entrepreneurs recognised opportunities, but more importantly, knew what to do with them when they saw them.
Lloyd-Reason said the solution was getting entrepreneurship embedded into education– not just tweaking the edges – because in not doing so, education were “letting down the youth and the economy”.