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Entrepreneurship for students and young researchers in California

Entrepreneurship is about developing new solutions to specific challenges. In California, this quality is an important piece of the puzzle when educating the next generation of talented and energetic citizens for the future labor market and society. But how do we use entrepreneurship to strengthen education?

Entrepreneurship education is used as a problem-solving teaching approach, which, with a focus on creativity, collaboration and critical thinking, is one of the tools to provide students with 21st Century Skills. At the same time, entrepreneurial students and younger researchers show that start-ups can be an alternative career path in a transitioning labor market, which will also benefit the society when knowledge of the universities turn into new products.

A closer look at Californian universities

The report looks more closely at UC Berkeley, Stanford University and UC San Diego, as these three universities have shown impressive results over the years. Since 2006 UC Berkeley and Stanford have graduated more than 2,200 entrepreneurs whose start-ups have made their way to venture capital. In addition to a unique talent mass, the secret behind the amount of succesfull startups must also be found in the culture, intensity and the scope of the ecosystem of the programs, activities and events that the universities provide for entrepreneurial researchers and students. 

The programs also provide competences to those who do not wish to be entrepreneurs. In those matters, entrepreneurship is used as an approach to problem solving, where a broad group of students learn about idea development, markets, target audience, collaborations, etc., as a tool for solving problems in the world outside the university.

Based on interviews and visits to the three universities, the report shows that there is no single recipe for how a university best supports entrepreneurship. It is also evident that universities' environments are important, and it is clear that especially UC Berkeley and Stanford University benefit from the proximity of Silicon Valley's global center of entrepreneurship. Based on the three cases we point to five important ingredients that are common for the universities, and which may be relevant for Danish universities:

  • Entrepreneurship programs are targeted towards all students - including those who are not looking into becoming entrepreneurs

  • Programs are built in collaboration with the private sector

  • Interdisciplinary anchoring of entrepreneurship programs

  • Decentralized program development but with support from management

  • Transparency and complementarity across the ecosystem. 

We present a selection of programs from the three universities' ecosystems, exemplifying how to set up the programs in California.

Read the full report 

The purpose of this ICDK Outlook is to show examples from some of the universities in the United States that are among the best to support entrepreneurs and integrate entrepreneurship into teaching. Therefore, the report can serve as inspiration for Danish universities who wish to continue their working on developing the ecosystems for entrepreneurship. 

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