Paolo Gubitta, full time Professor at the Business Organisation and Entrepreneurship Programme of the University of Padova, suggests that the answer to prosperous economic growth is entrepreneurship.
“Education has a responsibility to foster entrepreneurship”, said Gubitta at the recent Italian Slovenian Business Forum in Ljubljana, Slovenia; not only by providing students with the right knowledge, but also by linking this knowledge to the complex issues businesses face today.
Gubitta suggests countries and regions trying to increase their entrepreneurial activities should implement The Threefold Challenge. His model promotes entrepreneurship by linking educational institutions at the university level with companies dealing with complex business problems.
The Threefold Challenge involves combining the educated pool of graduates emerging from educational institutions and the knowledge-based resources of universities in order to push innovative business solutions out in the marketplace. The challenge aims to unite key players during the different stages of the entrepreneurial process.
The model has objectives in three different areas. The first proposes fostering the creation of new ventures, particularly in the development and set-up phase of the entrepreneurial project; this stage is best known as “The Valley of Death” in the start-up world. The new venture creation plan would not only consist of monetary aid but would also include a network of mentors within the university and the startup venture industry that would guide the entrepreneurs during the development stage of their project, primarily by helping them reduce risk, build capital and relationships with Angel Investors, and by getting access to R&D tax credits.
“It is imperative that universities nurture academic spin-off projects born in university research labs”, Gubitta pointed out at the event’s roundtable. For this reason the second solution in the Threefold Challenge is to improve the transfer of innovation and know-how between educational institutions and companies. This could happen by creating incentives within the institutions that push new ideas into the marketplace, or by providing managerial opportunities for Ph.D. candidates in companies looking for effective and innovative technological solution.“It could also be accomplished by hosting entrepreneurial seminars designed for Ph.D candidates at the universities,” said Gubitta, “and by involving them in innovative SME projects within the community.”
The third solution would be to inject innovation into the business process by hosting ‘hackatons’ (an event in which computer programmers and others involved in software and hardware development spend time collaborating intensively on selected software projects – also known as a hackfest or codefest) at universities. These hackathons could focus on a distinctive problem or application within an industry, which could also occasionally involve hardware components sponsored by a company or the university itself.
Gubitta also spoke to Media Change about how he sees educational systems evolving in the future. Watch the interview below for more.