Having an external and internal entrepreneurial ecosystem is a crucial factor for implementing and strengthening entrepreneurial teaching and learning (Lackus & Williams Middleton, 2015).

The problem

Research shows that higher education institutions with no external ecosystems or only very few of these networks face problems in achieving good outcomes of entrepreneurial teaching and learning. The lack of external networks often results in a lack of knowledge about what potential employers need as entrepreneurial skills. Further, these institutions are less able to provide their students with internships or collaborative education. It is also more difficult to attract guest teachers with professional experience or provide students and graduates who want to start their own business with contacts in these sectors. The lack of these networks might thus diminish the entrepreneurial learning outcomes for students and their later careers.

Solutions at institutional level

A key solution to this problem is that institutions that plan to engage in entrepreneurial teaching and learning should also assess their performance in the dimension “knowledge transfer and exchange” (with their close environment) when developing their interventions and strategies. In doing so, they can determine if these networks are sufficient for their plans or if they eventually need to be extended. Compiling an inventory of existing contacts, including contacts of staff, can be a first step here. Some institutions also report that they have established professional roles and specialised departments such as knowledge transfer offices and centres for entrepreneurship that maintain these networks and aim to extend them. Thus, investing in the creation of inhouse capacity will embed the institutions in their regions (Clements, 2012; Fenton & Barry, 2011; Williams & Fenton, 2013).

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Other relevant resources
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Links to selected HEInnovate case studies
Further reading
  • Clements, Mike (2012): Contribution of the SPEED Programme to the Enhancement of an Enterprise Culture in a UK University. In Industry and Higher Education 26, pp. 101–106. DOI: 10.5367/ihe.2012.0088.
  • Fenton, Mary; Barry, Almar (2011): The Efficacy of Entrepreneurship Education: Perspectives of Irish Graduate Entrepreneurs. In Industry and Higher Education 25, pp. 451–460. DOI: 10.5367/ihe.2011.0069.
  • 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.