Launched today, the OECD and EU report praises Ireland’s approach to entrepreneurship but calls for better supports for student entrepreneurs.

A new international report into entrepreneurship education in Ireland has called on colleges and the government to continue supporting startups, and asked universities to be “innovative” themselves as they look to engage with businesses across the world.

The report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the European Commission, launched [October 23] by Minister of State for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O’Connor, found that entrepreneurship in higher education is critical for driving startups and innovation, as well as economic development.

Irish universities have long had success in pursuing ways to be more entrepreneurial. As universities across the world look to support student startups and monetise research, Trinity has been at the forefront of entrepreneurialism in Ireland, with its graduates consistently named the most entrepreneurial in Europe.

In a statement, Mitchell O’Connor said: “This report is a testament to the quality of the teaching in our Higher Education Institutions and the findings of the review will inform best practice in entrepreneurial education across Europe.”

Mitchell O’Connor went on to say that the report highlights that further engagement and communication is needed between businesses, communities and higher education institutions and is “becoming increasingly important”.

The report comes after a year-long review of entrepreneurship education in Ireland under the HEInnovate initiative by the OECD and European Commission. In a statement, Antoaneta Angelova-Krasteva, Director for Innovation, International Cooperation and Sport of the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Education, Culture Youth and Sport, congratulated Ireland and said that “HEInnovate is a key initiative in making Europe more innovative and entrepreneurial as it supports individual higher education institutions”.

“We believe that this positive experience will motivate other Member States to join this initiative”, Angelova-Krasteva added.

The report outlined that Ireland and higher education institutions are making positive steps to support students and staff with startup endeavors. However, some of the recommendations include encouraging more cross-discipline research and education activities, and support staff to increase knowledge exchange activities. The report asks policy makers to facilitate this and to improve engagement at a local and national level, as well as suggesting the development of a framework for monitoring the impact of entrepreneurship on a social and economic level.

The Deputy Secretary General of the OECD, Mari Kiviniemi, said in a statement: “The Irish education system plays a fundamental role in developing an entrepreneurial mindset among students and staff.”

“Students need incentives and support to engage with entrepreneurship”, Kiviniemi continued. “Diploma supplements on entrepreneurship competencies that graduates can show their future employers are a good example.”

The report found that Ireland had nearly double the OECD average working in ICT. Over five percent of the workforce in Ireland is in the ICT sector, compared to an average of 2.85 percent in the OECD.

It also suggests that institutions allow for more places on startup and venture creation programmes, especially for students and alumni. The report noted that 85 percent of higher education institutions offer entrepreneurship education and 80 percent have startup support policies, but it was also noted that this is primarily targeted at staff and researchers, rather than students: less than half of the universities and only two-thirds of the institutes of technology offer support for students with startups. Another finding saw only 33 percent of institutions provided financial resources.

Support generally comes in the form of help with intellectual property rights, generating business plans and applying for public funding, access to incubation facilities and laboratories or help with generating venture capital. Two-thirds of higher education institutions have seen an increase in demand for this support over the last number of years.

Trinity has a well developed startup programme for both students and staff. Launchbox, which has ran for several years, has generated a number of successful companies. The coming years will also see Trinity develop its next big project: a technology campus in Grand Canal Docks. The project is currently estimated to cost €1 billion, with hopes that the government could provide up to 20 percent of the funding.

Another recommendation came after researchers found that small and medium-sized business in Ireland don’t actively take on international students who are allowed to stay for one year to work after finishing their course, because they believe that they will not stay after the one-year placement. The report asks higher education institutions to use a “front door” approach to better collaborate with smaller companies.

The survey was completed in 2015, with all Irish universities and 11 of the 14 institutes of technology responding to the survey. Six higher education institutions were visited, including University of Limerick, University College Cork and Dublin City University.

Up until now, Bulgaria, Ireland, Poland, the Netherlands and Hungary are the only countries to complete HEInnovate, but five more countries from across Europe will have completed the review by the end of 2018. The report also calls for continued support for collaboration on entrepreneurial activities between higher education institutions across the OECD.

Mitchell O’Connor commented that the “review will inform policy”, including the “Entrepreneurship Education Policy Statement and the revised System Performance Framework” currently being developed by the Department of Education and Skills.


From: University Times  |  10.23.17  |  By: Róisín Power

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