Entrepreneurship ecosystems are all social networks that are linked to a higher education institution. These networks can develop in very different formats, either as external ecosystems, i.e., involving partners and stakeholders that are not members of the institution and internal ecosytems, which involve the institutions‘ members. A shared characteristic of the ecosystems is that these are not formal structures but are mostly informally organised. As an ecosystem, the networks support cultivating entrepreneurship in a higher education institution and its closer (regional) environment.

Relevance of input

The establishment, maintenance and extension of internal and external entrepreneurship ecosystems are another input that is crucial for entrepreneurship education. External networks bring relevant information on skill demands and opportunities for collaboration to higher education institutions (Ortiz-Medina et al., 2016). External networks create a closer link between the institution and its region (Lackus & Williams Middleton, 2015). Some entrepreneurship education formats are also dependent on involving external stakeholders as they can provide students with more real experiences than the experiences collected from virtual learning experiments (Gilbert, 2012). Also, teachers with entrepreneurship experiences can be recruited from these networks. Internal ecosystems, such as professional learning communities of teachers, can also provide value to the institution (Ghina et al., 2014). These networks can strengthen teachers‘ motivation, support the development, and use educational innovations to enhance entrepreneurship education. However, while ecosystems are an important input to entrepreneurship education, their establishment and maintenance require resources such as staff, funding and infrastructure itself (Ortiz-Medina et al., 2016).

Examples of interventions at institutional level


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Other relevant resources
  • The Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Strategy as a New Paradigm for Economic Policy: Principles for Cultivating Entrepreneurship; http://www.innovationamerica.us/images/stories/2011/The-entrepreneurship-ecosystem-strategy-for-economic-growth-policy-20110620183915.pdf
Links to selected HEInnovate case studies
Further reading
  • Ghina, Astri; Simatupang, Togar M.; Gustomo, Aurik (2014): A Systematic Framework for Entrepreneurship Education within a University Context. In International Education Studies 7.
  • Gilbert, David H. (2012): From Chalk and Talk to Walking the Walk: Facilitating Dynamic Learning Contexts for Entrepreneurship Students in Fast-Tracking Innovations. In Education & Training 54, pp. 152–166. DOI: 10.1108/00400911211210260.
  • 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.
  • 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.