Could Universities Support and Stimulate the New Entrepreneurship? The University of Florence Case

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Publicerad: 2008-12-09


ISSN: 1650-3686 (tryckt), 1650-3740 (online)


Purpose; originality and value of paper: In this paper we examine the links between universities and new entrepreneurship; paying particular attention to the higher education programs and its critical role in the process of new business creation by stimulating the entrepreneurial aspirations of young students and supporting the potential entrepreneurs in developing personal capabilities; skills and competences.

In term of content; we argue that universities in order to support new entrepreneurship can

  • offer education and training activities and scientific production;
  • support spin-offs and incubation activities transferring technology and patenting;
  • promote stable relationships and fruitful partnerships with entrepreneurs and capitalists.

In fact; we believe the University with high quality teaching and scientific production can; first of all; be potential engines for the economic and entrepreneurial development of a country. Second; spin off and incubation activities can aid future entrepreneurs in the creation of a start-up facilitating the access to material; financial and relational resources. Finally; we believe that university can educate potential entrepreneurs transferring more codified knowledge into marketing; administrative; financial; technological and other areas.

Methodology and research implication: This paper focuses on the following research questions:

  1. How can universities activities encourage an entrepreneurial thinking to be applied by students in start-ups?
  2. How can universities activities educate potential entrepreneurs to transfer skills and competences acquired from the higher education programs to the new businesses start-ups?
  3. Can higher education programs support collaboration between universities and entrepreneurship and aid future entrepreneurs in the creation of a start-up?

A literature review on new business creation; and relationships between higher education and entrepreneurial activities will be provided. We will present the case of University of Florence and its specific entrepreneurial activities and programs for undergraduate and graduate students.

The MAIR model (Motivation and Confidence; Abilities & Skills Development; Ideas and Resources) will be used to classify the activities and underline the special challenges of entrepreneurship education and the role of higher education in an entrepreneurial process.

The structure of this paper is the following: first; we present the research questions and the methodology adopted; then we discuss a specific case study (University of Florence) and we propose an application of an interpretive model (MAIR Model). Finally; we draw some conclusions and future research proposals.


University; higher education; new entrepreneurship; start-up; network; and social capital


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