Energising the entrepreneurial spirit at Aarhus University
The Student Incubator project focuses on tapping into the business potential of students and creating synergies between different professional paths.
Projects such as this are helping the EU to become a smart, sustainable and inclusive economy by 2020, as set out in the EU 2020 growth strategy. The EU is facing some tough challenges, including an ageing population, an insufficiently qualified workforce, the need for greater innovation, striking a balance between economic growth and environmental degradation, and ensuring secure, clean energy supplies. Regional policy projects across the EU are playing an active role in dealing with these and many other challenges, by undertaking projects designed to generate employment, raise educational achievement, develop renewable energy sources, boost productivity and give all citizens access to opportunities. The projects and the regions play a pivotal role in this, as they generate real results that contribute to achieving the strategy’s key goals.
Students are encouraged to view entrepreneurship as an alternative career. The support provided comes in the form of knowledge, guidance, tools and shared experiences, ensuring that they are ready for business and eventually able to create more knowledge-intensive, innovative companies in the region.
Seeds for fertile minds
The Student Incubator at Aarhus University is designed to encourage more BA and graduate-level students from the city's educational institutions to see entrepreneurship as an alternative career path. One important aspect is to give students the opportunity to meet with other students focused on different professions, and to exploit the synergies created. This applies across both faculties and schools. Together, the students work through a motivating creative process where they independently try to develop business concepts that generate value, thus embodying the underlying aim: create value from knowledge, whether applying one’s own knowledge to one’s own business or to an existing business. Students must understand this, and most important, act on it.
Take Off initiative for new business
The organisation has also developed "Take Off", an incubator specifically for those students wishing to set up their own businesses. Take Off provides office space as well as personal and business coaching. Over the past two years, this has resulted in a positive and productive environment, where the ‘house culture’ has helped support students through the entrepreneurial process. The students highly value not just the house culture, but also the entrepreneurship culture. They are able to optimise their efficiency and also sharpen their entrepreneurial mindset.
Many budding entrepreneurs have been welcomed at the house over the past two years. The number is actually three times the original estimate: 152 students spread over 95 enterprises have been through "Take Off". Staff follow every individual's development closely, so that the right guidance is offered throughout their stay.
Playing with entrepreneurship in the Sand Box
Not everyone is ready to dive straight into starting a business. For these students, the Sand Box course is available, giving them a chance to taste entrepreneurship on a non-committal basis and explore whether or not it suits their plans and matches their interests. The Sand Box offers a unique process involving a mix of personal coaching, workshops and mirroring of role models. The result is a personal game plan depicting the student’s own entrepreneurial journey. If the students then want to go further, they can join "Take Off". Over one year, 102 students ‘played’ in the Sand Box, including two classes of international students.
FundERDF for the 2007 to 2013 programming period
Total InvestmentEUR 871 800
EU InvestmentEUR 435 900