Entrepreneurship education is in high demand across the globe. And in the face of headlines bemoaning economic challenges, particularly in Europe, greater numbers of governments and universities are racing to embrace the promise of entrepreneurial skills for students and graduates. However, not all efforts are the same.
To effectively boost the long-term value of these initiatives, a growing number of universities are focusing on a collaborative, multi-disciplinary approach to entrepreneurship education. One of the finest examples exists at Finland’s Aalto University, host of the upcoming Roundtable on Entrepreneurship Education (REE).
“Aalto University is an incredible model, where three established universities have combined to form the perfect entrepreneurship combination … business, technology and design,” says Tom Byers, professor of Management Science and Engineering at Stanford University, who will be attending REE. “I look forward to learning from their experiences and process, as they continue to influence the ecosystem in Finland.”
From September 5 though 7, REE attendees from around the world will convene in Helsinki, Finland, to participate in interactive workshops and engaging presentations to discover the latest approaches to delivering high-growth entrepreneurship education. Leading engineering, business and design faculty will not only be sharing some of their best curricular programs, but looking to connect with other faculty taking entrepreneurship and innovation learning to the next level.
“The REE community explores new opportunities and possibilities,” says Alistair Fee, visiting professor of marketing and innovation at Queen’s University, Belfast. “I want to hear new ideas, get inspired and become energized.”
The theme of this year’s conference is entrepreneurship education as a platform for cross-disciplinary collaboration to bring people together from across subjects, interests, and backgrounds in a university setting. With the energy continually building behind this approach, entrepreneurship has taken its place at the forefront of a new era in education, says Byers.
“This gives us, as educators, the opportunity to think about how to optimize classroom learning. Entrepreneurship educators are often on the vanguard of new teaching methodologies and techniques, and this will be no different.”
For more than a decade, faculty from around the world have connected through the REE experience to discover the latest strategies in experiential entrepreneurship learning. An added bonus in this year’s event is the opportunity to engage within the unique and thriving Aalto/Helsinki ecosystem, where student involvement has driven the entrepreneurship revolution.
A key to the entrepreneurship revolution around Aalto University, and in Finland, was the organized passion of Aalto students when they formed the Aalto Entrepreneurship Society in 2008. The purpose was to bring together engaged students and researchers interested in entrepreneurship. Since then, the Aalto ecosystem has continued to blossom with the development of new programs and offerings, such as the Aalto Venture Garage and the Aalto Ventures Program.
“I am eager to learn more about the robust entrepreneurial ecosystem at Aalto,” says STVP Executive Director Tina Seelig, who also teaches creativity and innovation at Stanford. “I’m also interested in gaining more insights into the opportunities and challenges faced by colleagues across Europe.”
REE Europe 2012 may prove to be a catalyst for generating new ideas around how to address the economic future of Europe. According to Hervé Lebret, senior scientist with the College of Management of Technology at Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, this may include, “a recognition that Europe does not have strong enough clusters, so that joining forces might be an option.”
No matter what changes come to the larger regional political and economic structures of Europe, the power of entrepreneurship education is here to stay, which according to Fee, is contributing to a new vibrancy throughout Europe.
“People in every country are pushing the entrepreneurship envelope. There has never been a greater need for targeted, active, entrepreneurship – we have a duty to stretch ourselves and our communities to do it better,” says Fee. “Entrepreneurs need lifetime support and access to ideas, material and hope. REE must contribute to the ecosystem.”
Want to see why Helsinki is a top landing spot for entrepreneurs? Watch this video to see why the new era in Finland is built on an influx of bright minds and Aalto University’s open community approach to new ideas.