Creating student entrepreneurs refers to supporting and educating students who want to start their own business already during their study or upon their graduation. The creation of student entrepreneurs is, besides the creation of entrepeneurial skills a major important goal of entrepreneurial teaching and learning. Promoting the creation of student or graduate businesses contributes to regional development and innovation capacity.

The goal

  • The term ‘student entrepreneur’ points to students who started their own company or business already during their studies or shortly upon graduation.
  • Higher education institutions can support these students with special programmes and initiatives. Both can help students to translate their ideas into business plans, find investors, provide seed money or infrastructure.
  • Creating student entrepreneurs aims at increasing the (regional) innovation capacity and create employment opportunities for students and other highly qualified persons.
  • Supporting student to venture into their own business is a huge challenge for higher education institutions. Successful programmes and initiatives
  • need to make substantial investments, e.g. providing infrastructure (laboratories, office space) and eventually seed money to start up the business;
  • need to have expertise and experience in setting up companies and business;
  • need to have established networks with their regional economy;
  • should have set up educational modules or programmes on entrepreneurship

Examples of interventions at institutional level

  • Venture Creation Programmes which can be defined as: “entrepreneurship education programs which utilize the on-going creation of a real-life venture as the primary learning vessel (thus involving venture creation as part of the formal curriculum), including intention to incorporate” Lackus and Middleton (2015) analyse the types of educational programmes and mention five design principles that contribute to their success: “targeting and selecting students, creating start-up teams, collaborating with external partners, designing the learning environment, developing entrepreneurial attitudes”.
  • Campus Incubators: these are organisations that are located at the boundaries of higher education institutions and link between the institution and the (regional) business sector. Main functions of such a business incubator are:
  • Provide physical infrastructure for business start-ups
  • Link start-ups and the (regional) business-sector through networking activities
  • Supporting start-ups in their first years
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Support at European level
  • The European Commission supports start-ups and other forms of venture creation with funding: Information on initiatives can be found here:
Links to selected HEInnovate case studies
  • Gründerskolen Norway - Norway School of Entrepreneurship;
  • Support for entrepreneurs through the Centre for Entrepreneurship at the University of Cyprus;;
  • Junior Enterprise: Preparing and supporting entrepreneurs - The Junior Enterprise concept;
Further reading
  • Lackus, Martin; Williams Middleton, Karen (2015): Venture Creation Programs: Bridging Entrepreneurship Education and Technology Transfer. In Education & Training 57, pp. 48–73. DOI: 10.1108/ET-02-2013-0013.
  • O'Connor, John; Fenton, Mary; Barry, Almar (2012): Entrepreneurship Education: Ireland's Solution to Economic Regeneration? In Industry and Higher Education 26, pp. 241–249. DOI: 10.5367/ihe.2012.0097.
  • Ortiz-Medina, L.; Fernndez-Ahumada, E.; Lara-Vlez, P.; Taguas, E. V.; Gallardo-Cobos, R.; del Campillo, M. C.; Guerrero-Ginel, J. E. (2016): Designing an Accompanying Ecosystem to Foster Entrepreneurship among Agronomic and Forestry Engineering Students. Opinion and Commitment of University Lecturers. In European Journal of Engineering Education 41, pp. 393–410. DOI: 10.1080/03043797.2015.1079815.
  • Teixeira, Aurora A. C.; Davey, Todd (2010): Attitudes of Higher Education Students to New Venture Creation: The Relevance of Competencies and Contextual Factors. In Industry and Higher Education 24, pp. 323–341. DOI: 10.5367/ihe.2010.0005.
  • Williams, Perri; Fenton, Mary (2013): Towards a Good Practice Model for an Entrepreneurial HEI: Perspectives of Academics, Enterprise Enablers and Graduate Entrepreneurs. In Industry and Higher Education 27, pp. 499–506. DOI: 10.5367/ihe.2013.0183.