7 keys to entrepreneurial success in universities

There are seven keys to creating a successful university-based entrepreneurship ecosystem (U-BEE), according to research published in the aptly named International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management.

Mark Rice, Michael Fetters and Patricia Greene of the School of Business at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester, Massachusetts, USA, have undertaken case studies of six universities, three in the USA and one each in Asia, Europe and South America in order to elucidate what common factors have led to sustainable and successful entrepreneurial activities in those institutions.

The team selected the six establishments on the basis of the longevity, breadth, and maturity of their entrepreneurship programs as well as, to a lesser extent, geographical factors, size and governance. The case studies focused on US-based Babson College, The University of Texas at Austin and University of Southern California, and Ecole de Management de Lyon, Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey and the National University of Singapore. From their analysis seven keys to success emerged:

1 – The development of a successful and sustainable U-BEE requires senior leadership vision, engagement and sponsorship. 2 – The development of a successful and sustainable U-BEE requires the commitment of strong faculty/administrative leadership of all the components of the ecosystem. 3 – The development of a successful and sustainable U-BEE depends on achieving critical mass. 4 – The development of a successful and sustainable U-BEE requires the development of an appropriate, robust and effective organizational infrastructure. 5 – The development of a successful and sustainable U-BEE requires commitment to continuing innovation in the elements of the entrepreneurship ecosystem. 6 – The development of a successful and sustainable U-BEE requires the commitment of substantial financial resources. 7 – The development of a successful and sustainable U-BEE requires sustained university commitment over a long period of time.

“Over an extended period of time (a minimum of 20 years), the six U-BEEs in this study developed a comprehensive portfolio of ecosystem elements: courses and curriculum, outreach programs and research initiatives; and they accumulated human and financial resources to support development, improvement and delivery of these elements,” the team reports. They add that, “U-BEEs provide a comprehensive portfolio of programs and services that can enable entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial students to thrive.”

Rice, M.P., Fetters, M.L. and Greene, P.G. (2014) ‘University-based entrepreneurship ecosystems: a global study of six educational institutions’, Int. J. Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management, Vol. 18, Nos. 5/6, pp.481-501

Author: David Bradley

Award-winning, freelance science writer based in Cambridge, England.