Universities As Hotbed For Nurturing Entrepreneurial Spirit

Universities as Hotbed for Nurturing Entrepreneurial Spirit

Earlier there were schools, colleges and universities that thrived on theoretical knowledge, and the ability to imply that knowledge to real-life situations.

As they progressed, it was realized that theoretical knowledge doesn’t take us very long in today’s ever-changing world. Now the time has come that the education system is realizing that the applying practical/lab based teaching is also not sufficient because it doesn’t open the brain of the students to apply the knowledge in innovative something new. Therefore, the need of the hour is to encourage students to develop innovative thinking. One tool to develop innovative thinking is Project based learning where students not only learn to apply knowledge but think of all new possibilities of innovating new products & solutions. The main goal of today’s education system should be to develop entrepreneurial mindset which means that all students doesn’t essentially have be become entrepreneur but they should see the problem with different perspectives and come out with innovative approaches to address them wherever they work.

What happens when a student with a billion-dollar idea starts studying? Universities go on to provide the support, material and outline for innovative designs that the students can then cash upon. So, when we talk about hotbeds for entrepreneurs, we talk about the exposure, and the learning about the future of work that these institutions cater to; we talk about how a university influences an 18- year old with the sole idea of transforming their society; working towards a better world.

There isn’t much difference between a 2-year old who likes to flip through his mother’s phone, and a 35-year old who starts a company that aims to empower rural women through online education. The seeds of entrepreneurial talent get planted very young. It takes a while to grow, to nurture and finally emerge as an idea; A university that supports an idea, supports an entrepreneur.

According to a report by NASSCOM, during the Covid-19 pandemic, 54% Indians were actually looking to shift to newer business opportunities, leaving their old jobs and opting for trying something new. This included foraying into diverse areas and building start-ups on emerging tech such as AI, IOT and Cloud integration.

There are four important pillars for a university fostering entrepreneurial spirit:

  1. Research-driven: Research culture equips students with a flair for solving problems throughout their life. Therefore, each programme should be designed to engage students in research. Every student, irrespective of discipline, successfully imbibes this quality through hands-on experience of applying research methodology to a variety of problems. Case studies help create a mock environment for students which enable them to effectively apply the methodologies they have studied. Research is the foundation for knowledge, curated to provide a platform for showcasing innovative ideas and encapsulating them into reality.
  2. Industry-linked: Industry should play an important role in identifying new courses, designing curricula, facilitating hands-on training for students, sponsoring research, and providing senior managers as visiting and mentor faculty at Universities. These Universities can help sustain partnerships with different industries to facilitate Industry-aligned education.
  3. Technology-based: Some Universities use leading-edge technology in all their activities, such as development of content, pedagogies for teaching-learning, testing & evaluation, self-learning, and university management. Technology is utilized to improve teaching-learning process by innovating new pedagogies that match the requirements of individual students. By practically advancing the entire curricula, these Universities make students ready to face the actual world of work.
  4. Seamless Communication: Seamless implies providing students with the occupational, spatial and temporal mobility demanded by today’s globalized economy. Along with a holistic education, it ensures maximizing effective choices for students, making curricula flexible and making it adaptive to the current generation.

The new normal is here. Universities no longer aim to only provide students with books and theoretical knowledge or even practical based teaching instead they foster an efficient system to encourage innovative thinking which leads to developing entrepreneurial mindset, right from the beginning.

If we think about it, entrepreneurs are never made, they are influenced; and who better to influencer future entrepreneurs than universities themselves.

About the Author
Author: Dr. Vikas Upadhyaya
Dr. Vikas Upadhyaya Assistant Professor (ECE) & Faculty Incharge of Centre for Innovation Incubation & Entrepreneurship (CIIE), NU.

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