The most innovative students and entrepreneurs expect today more than just a degree from their years at a university. Achieving the latest state of the art knowledge is not enough, as it is globally available online 24/7. Instead, ambitious individuals expect to be challenged by experts, explore disruptive ideas, set up innovative ventures and gain new inspiring experiences. Furthermore, many students wish to develop their own knowledge by identifying personal strengths and dreams in order to set up their personal navigation plan for the future. Study years can shape students as a person in many ways.
University-linked business incubators such as Haaga-Helia’s StartUp School offer a platform for developing a business idea while earning study credits for a university degree. It is an effective “learn by doing” method, challenging as well as developing students at a hands-on level. The platform and its community bring together innovative students to network with inspiring peers, experts, research project companies and funding opportunities. As acquiring skills is becoming more and more relevant than even degrees in the future, this model seems to resonate with the needs of millennial students and entrepreneurs.
In the past, entrepreneurship was seen as the option for those more practical-oriented, who did not succeed that well in their studies. Students of today do not have to make the choice whether to aim for a scientific degree or a career as an entrepreneur anymore. On the contrary, these days entrepreneurship offers a means for many gifted innovators to change the world by focusing on solving the most crucial challenges globally. Additionally. a person with a positive entrepreneurial mindset and collaborative skills is often highly sought after by corporations..
Universities have an increasing need in the future to profile their core-competencies and attract the best talents equipped with relevant competencies. University-linked incubators are of solid strategic value. Incubators can play an increasingly important role as honey pots, attracting and retaining innovative entrepreneurial students, lecturers, researchers and faculty members, commercializing innovations and solving the biggest challenges of today.
Hannele Mennala M.Sc (Econ) is Head of StartUp School incubator in Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences. Besides her Masters degree she has Certified Business Coach and professional teacher qualifications. Hannele has an extensive background working at global corporations in IT and consumer goods markets, and as a StartUp co-founder.