9 September 2020 | Amsterdam, Münster, Paris, Athens, Granada, Melbourne

Should we - as academics - be more entrepreneurial?

UIIN - the University-Industry-Innovation-Network - organised a webinar on the increasingly important topic. The Third Mission of Universities, Triple and Quadruple Helix, Next Generation HEIs, professional Knowledge Transfer, Commercialisation of Research, the Engaged University … all those newly raised discussion points point out into one direction: Entrepreneurial academics.

But is it really the role of a researcher or of a lecturer, to be entrepreneurial? And are academics able to act as entrepreneurs - looking at their personal background and at their individual profiles and dreams? And why and how and how to combine it with your original workplace description?

Four experienced panellists have been invited by Dr. Balzhan Orazbayeva from UIIN to discuss:

Dr. Thomas Baaken

Professor in Marketing, S2B Marketing

Founder and Senior Managing Director of the "Science-to-Business Marketing Research Centre", Münster School of Business, Germany


Scientific Advisor @ UIIN

Pauliina Mattila

Coach, Lecturer, Strategist
Design Factory Melbourne
Swinburne University of Technology, Australia

Dr Belinda Gibbons 


Senior Lecturer

UNPRME AUSNZ Chapter Chair

EIR iAccelerate

Sydney Business School University of Wollongong, Australia

Todd Davey PhD
Associate Professor in Entrepreneurship 
Institut Mines-Télécom Business School (IMT-BS) Grande École de Commerce et de Management

Paris, France



New Ventures @ UIIN

The Webinar appealed to three different types of audiences:

  1. Those academics who want to develop their entrepreneurial capabilities and behaviours wanting to know how they could do that
  2. Those knowledge transfer professionals who are tasked with the responsibility to develop entrepreneurial behaviour in academics (education, research or outreach)
  3. Those university managers who are trying to stimulate a more entrepreneurial culture within their institution

The moderator, Prof. Todd Davey from IMT-BS started throwing questions to the panellists. 1.5 hours of discussion on this crucial issue seemed to be short time to tackle at least the most challenging questions. "I kindly ask each of you to introduce yourself and your day to day role as well as get you to give your opinion on "What is an entrepreneurial academic and what are they doing?"

Then the following question where raised:

  1. To what degree can academic entrepreneurial behaviour be developed?
  2. If we are trying to support or develop academic entrepreneurship what should our aim be?
  3. What are the best ways to encourage or support academic entrepreneurship?
  4. What sort of drivers and incentive mechanisms could be used?
  5. What are the major barriers inhibiting academic entrepreneurship and how could we try to overcome them?
  6. Do you have some best practises within your own or other organisations?
  7. How has the recent COVID19 pandemic effected academics to be more entrepreneurial?

The webinar got excellent feedback from the audience, coming from many different counties from Europe (even if the starting time was 6:30am CET!) and several participants from Australia.

The answer was clearly YES, academics should pursue an entrepreneurial (or intrapreneurial) pathway if possible, it opens up doors to access resources, networks, people and knowledge. And the KPIs put on academics are better to achieve. However there are several pros and cons …

The latest conclusion by Belinda Gibbons was "We desperately need more entrepreneurial academics in every university; thus the promotion and rewarding system has to be adapted or at least aligned to also those academics who go for it." Thomas Baaken concluded: "Yes I totally agree on this; never the less we have been discussing this since decades and it's not us who are going to change it. Thus it is up to us, every individual, to be brave and enthusiastic and just go for more entrepreneurial thinking and acting - just do it. Waiting for new regulations will take the momentum out of everything as waiting is the worst we ever can do. Never the less we shall also work on this on a political level whenever it suits, but this is not going to support us now!"

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