When engaging in social entrepreneurship higher education institutions aim to contribute to social value and social change. Higher education institutions need to become aware of societal needs, which actors either need support or would like to collaborate. Also, higher education institutions need to develop capacity in raising funds and resources to support their social engagement.

Identifying opportunities is determined by the social entrepreneurship/ community engagement model the higher education institution selects. For example, universities which engage in social justice models should investigate how their educational activities can contribute to regional development and bettering of excluded groups. On the other hand, institutions devoted to economic development should engage in (social) innovations and knowledge transfer that better living conditions in regions (housing, environmental issues etc.).

The goal

The challenge related to identifying opportunities for collaboration for universities lies in finding opportunities that match with the university’s engagement mission and capacity. Depending on their institutional profile, HEIs that are more engaged in education will contribute stronger to the regional development when educating graduates with transdisciplinary skills for solving wicked problems. Higher education institutions with a strong research record will be more likely to support social change with technical solutions and social innovations. Selecting opportunities to which higher education institutions can contribute significantly will secure support of external stakeholders in the long run.

The successful identification of collaboration opportunities thus depends on a clear institutional awareness of its strengths and weaknesses and demands and needs for regional development and stakeholders from the (regional) social sector.

Examples of interventions at institutional level

Institutional interventions that support the identification of opportunities include:

  • Defining clear mission of social entrepreneurship engagement
  • Self-assessment of institutional capacities in collaboration with regional stakeholders (e.g., using HEInnovate, the TEFCE toolbox, or the Value Proposition Canvas Workshop Format as suggested by BeyondScale)
  • Exploring needs of regional stakeholders from the social sector
  • Scan of the regional social market
Back to Fiche

Other relevant resources
Links to selected HEInnovate case studies
  • Not covered by HEInnovate case studies
Further reading
  • Cheah, Sarah; Ho, Yuen-Ping (2019): Building the Ecosystem for Social Entrepreneurship: University Social Enterprise Cases in Singapore. In Science, Technology and Society 24 (3), pp. 507–526. DOI: 10.1177/0971721819873190.
  • Lepik, Katri-Liis; Urmanavičienė, Audronė (2022): The Role of Higher Education Institutions in Development of Social Entrepreneurship: The Case of Tallinn University Social Entrepreneurship Study Program, Estonia. In Carmen Păunescu, Katri-Liis Lepik, Nicholas Spencer (Eds.): Social Innovation in Higher Education. Landscape, Practices, and Opportunities. 1st ed. 2022. Cham: Springer International Publishing; Imprint Springer (Springer eBook Collection), pp. 129–151.
  • Roslan, Muhammad Hamirul Hamizan; Hamid, Suraya; Ijab, Mohamad Taha; Yusop, Farrah Dina; Norman, Azah Anir (2020): Social entrepreneurship in higher education: challenges and opportunities. In Asia Pacific Journal of Education, pp. 1–17. DOI: 10.1080/02188791.2020.1859354.