Fostering Entrepreneurial Higher Education Institutions – by Prof. Dana T. Redford

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The entrepreneurial university concept can be used to consolidate efforts in entrepreneurship across a university and is best utilized in helping an institution formulate a strategic direction (Clark, 1998). It helps to focus academic goals and convert the knowledge produced at the university into economic and social utility (Etzkowitz, 2003). It can be said that, “Just as the university trains individual students and sends them out into the world, the entrepreneurial university is a natural incubator, providing support structures for teachers and students to initiate new ventures: intellectual, commercial and conjoint” (Etzkowitz, 2003, p.111). In order to achieve this status, the entrepreneurial university needs to become a more entrepreneurial organization with the members of their academic community becoming potential entrepreneurs, and the interaction with their ecosystems need to follow an entrepreneurial pattern (Ropke, 1998).

As at the heart of any entrepreneurial culture, entrepreneurial universities have to have the ability to innovate, recognize and create opportunities, work in teams, take risks and respond to challenges (Kirby, 2004). An entrepreneurial university “seeks to work out a substantial shift in organizational character so as to arrive at a more promising posture for the future (Etzkowitz, 2003, p.111). To help foster this shift, the European Commission and the OECD have just launched a joint initiative entitled, HEInnovate. This free online self-assessment tool for Higher Education Institutions helps them explore their entrepreneurial potential and better understand how they might make improvements. There are also specialized programs such as the Entrepreneurial University Leaders Programme (EULP)  promoted by NCEE, Universities UK and the Saïd Business School at University of Oxford to help build competences of senior leaders. 

Universities tend to advance universal and objective scientific knowledge. In the classic model of the university, the main missions focus on research and teaching, production and transmission of knowledge within a society. In this model, the researcher is intellectually independent and her/his scientific production is a collective asset.

The modern era acknowledges the importance of a third mission: the economic and social valorisation of knowledge produced by researchers within universities, creating the need for strategies, structures and mechanisms within universities that facilitate and intensify knowledge transfer to the private sector. This is accomplished via various avenues: patents, licensing, and facilitating academic spin-offs and start-ups, among others. Universities also need to develop a more entrepreneurial orientation and culture, and university researchers need to become increasingly entrepreneurial (Etzkowitz & Leydesdorff, 1997) to make it happen. Finally, this new model gives a greater importance to the relationships between three types of stakeholders: governments, universities and businesses. 

University-industry-government interaction is key to improving the conditions for innovation in a knowledge-based society. Industry is a key stakeholder for universities, as it represents the locus of production, whereas government is important because it represents the source of interaction with the country’s economy and public policy. At the core of the entrepreneurial university concept is a connection between the “ivory tower” and the “real world”.

The Handbook On The Entrepreneurial University (edited by myself and Professor Alain Fayolle) offers a lens through which to view entrepreneurship promotion and implementation at higher education institutions.  The book develops a body of knowledge, research, and principles that can be extrapolated from case studies. It addresses issues and questions in relation to entrepreneurship strategies at higher education institutions, relationships between university, industry and government, entrepreneurship education, start-up development from graduate entrepreneurs and researchers as well as the design and implementation of systems and structures dedicated to entrepreneurship.

Much work has been accomplished in the study of entrepreneurial universities, and this book reflects the rich diversity of the related literature. But issues can be raised about the usefulness and applicability of this knowledge. Is there a strong relationship/connection between research on entrepreneurial universities and the needs, awareness, policies and strategies of universities? Is the idea of an entrepreneurial university a myth or a reality? Even if we are convinced that universities must change and become more entrepreneurial, these questions must be asked. We believe this book responds to the questions, highlighting how universities can conceive of and implement strategic changes to better promote entrepreneurship both internally and externally.

Book coverProf. Dana T. Redford has been recognized as an international expert in the area of entrepreneurship and public policy. He has worked with the US Department of Commerce, European Commission, OECD and United Nations. Prof. Redford is President of the Platform for Entrepreneurship Education in Portugal and teaches at UC-Berkeley, Universidade Nova de Lisboa and Universidade Católica Portuguesa.


Clark, B. (1998). Creating Entrepreneurial Universities: Organizational pathways of transformation. New York: Pergamon.

Etzkowitz, H. (2003). Research Groups as ‘Quasi-firms’: The invention of the entrepreneurial university. Research Policy 32(1), January, 109–121.

Etzkowitz, H. & L. Leydesdorff (1998). Emergence of a Triple Helix of University-Industry-Government Relations, Science and Public Policy, retrieved on November 9, 2012 from

Kirby, D. A. (2004). Entrepreneurship Education: Can Business Schools meet the Challenge?, retrieved on December 10th, 2012 from

Röpke, J. (1998). The entrepreneurial university, innovation, academic knowledge creation and regional development in a globalized economy. Working Paper 15 Department of Economics, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Germany. Accessed on February 2, 2007 retrieved from /Witheo3/ documents/entreuni.pdf


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  1. Fostering Entrepreneurial Higher Education Inst... - March 9, 2014

    […] The entrepreneurial university concept can be used to consolidate efforts in entrepreneurship across a university and is best utilized in helping an institution formulate a strategic direction (Cla…  […]

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