Building technology entrepreneurship capabilities: an engineering education perspective

Kari Kleine, Ferran Giones, Mauricio Camargo, Silke Tegtmeier

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Much has been discussed about the changing role of universities in society, in particular when examining the contribution of universities to the economic growth and societal development (Audretsch 2012). The transition from universities as research centres to universities as innovation drivers has left many co-existing models in place (Schmitz et al. 2016), which makes it difficult to identify and articulate valid response mechanisms to new societal challenges.
The demand to respond to societal challenges contrasts with the research-focused nature of most universities that has traditionally left the role of technology innovation and entrepreneurship to other agents. Thus, the function of science and technology commercialization has often required the activation of specific actors such as Technology Transfer Offices (TTOs) linked to the government, universities, or research centres (Fitzgerald and Cunningham 2015). Prior research has identified the existent constraints to activate academic engagement, highlighting the distance between science and technology research activities with industry related innovation and entrepreneurship initiatives (Perkmann et al. 2013).
An alternative path to respond to the divergence between the new demands imposed by the societal challenges and the existing science and technology development focus of universities is to transform the offered educational programs. Instead of aiming to modify consolidated structures through directed interventions, such as entrepreneurship incentives for established researchers, the efforts would be focused on building the student’s skills and capabilities for technology entrepreneurship and innovation.
To study this alternative path, we explore the case of two European universities. Prior research has observed that in the European context there have been additional challenges and difficulties for successful academic entrepreneurship in the form of university spin- offs compared to the U.S. (Fini et al. 2016). Therefore, the exploration of alternative paths or mechanisms to promote technology entrepreneurship and innovation could be particularly relevant. We identified the engineering programs of two universities based in France and Denmark as two especially suitable cases that serve the purpose of illustrating responses to the demand of activating science and technology education with a focus on science-based entrepreneurial activity.
The two cases of science and technology entrepreneurship education (STEE) share common elements, for instance there are similarities in the overall design, content, pedagogical methods, learning environment, and intended learning outcomes. Nevertheless, each program has specific characteristics in relation to those categories and unique features in driving STEE. A comparative analysis of the two cases provides insights on potential guidelines to structure programs that foster technology entrepreneurship through education and training.
Both programs, one at Lorraine University (UL) in France and the other at the University of Southern Denmark (SDU), were developed as a response to a strong regional demand for professionals with an entrepreneurial mind-set and engineering capacities. The regional actors see the universities as a collaborative partner for research and education in the field of science and technology. The strong connection with the region’s industry becomes an influencing factor on the design and implementation of the specific approach to STEE.
The overall theme for the pedagogical model at UL and SDU is organized around the student- subject-project triangle. Supporting problem-based learning is the preferred approach. In more detail, the DSMI model (acronym for Den Syddanske Model for Igeniøruddlannelser) used at SDU requires that students work on problems proposed by companies in the region during their studies, introducing company visits and participation of company employees as guest lectures as part of the regular course activities.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEntrepreneurial Universities : Collaboration, Education and Policies
EditorsJoao Ferreira, Alain Fayolle, Vanessa Ratten
Place of PublicationCheltenham
PublisherEdward Elgar Publishing
Publication date31. Aug 2018
ISBN (Print)9781786432452
ISBN (Electronic)9781786432469
Publication statusPublished - 31. Aug 2018


  • Entrepreneurship education
  • Entrepreneurial University
  • Engineering Education
  • DSMI


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