Universities play a central role in nurturing the entrepreneurs of tomorrow, especially if they work together. This role needs to be more broadly recognized, supported, and leveraged. This is the call issued by the EuroTech Universities Alliance, a strategic partnership of the Technical University of Denmark (DTU), Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL), Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e), and the Technical University of Munich (TUM) - all of which have a solid track record in fostering innovation and entrepreneurship.
On June 29 the EuroTech Universities Alliance, a European partnership dedicated to producing new knowledge and translating it into action for the benefit of society, convened a high-level event in Brussels and released a policy paper, "Nurturing the Entrepreneurs of Tomorrow."
In his keynote speech, Patrick Aebischer, President of EPFL and current President of the EuroTech Universities Alliance, explained: "As a unique collaborative framework, the Alliance increases the offer of entrepreneurship activities and improves access to international networking for our students and staff. By working together, we develop novel approaches to support business creation and an entrepreneurial culture in Europe, including through our joint European Venture Programme and TECHNOLOGIST magazine and website."
Moderated by innovation expert Daria Tataj, the panel debate following Aebischer's speech resulted in a lively discussion among panelists representing a range of key actors from university management and the Europen Commission as well as company founders. Matthias Meyer, founder of BMW Start-up Garage, stressed that geographical proximity is key for creating university-industry pathways that take early-stage ideas to market. "Our co-development scheme," he said, "builds on our close ties with TUM for mutual benefit - the young entrepreneurs have the fantastic opportunity of market and network access, and we can tap into the young creative potential that is just around the corner."
According to Adam Hartmann, co-founder of DTU spin-out Eupry, his business benefited greatly from the "entrepreneurial ecosystem" at DTU. "This was decisive for the development of the company," he said, "not only in terms of inspiration, but also in terms of hands-on help in accessing expertise, learning more about intellectual property matters, and meeting other entrepreneurs."
Through their activities across four key fields (entrepreneurship education and training; promoting entrepreneurship culture and careers; supporting internationalization; and facilitating access to finance), leading universities of science and technology play a strategic role in addressing Europe's well known deficit of entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial mind-sets.
Policy paper: "Nurturing the Entrepreneurs of Tomorrow," available for download at http://www.
TECHNOLOGIST website: http://www.
EuroTech Universities European Venture Programme: http://eurotech-universities.