the journey of the entrepreneurial university

Eleanor Shaw, Associate Principal, Strathclyde University, Scotland.

This article was first published in 2020 in the Entrepreneurial Mindset Network eZINE Volume 4 no 1

The majority of universities that aim to become “an entrepreneurial university” are on a journey, often over many years, towards achieving that goal.

Using an analogy from entrepreneurship,  most universities are in the “start-up” phase.  They may well have a small number of specialist entrepreneurship programmes, maybe some optional generalist provision, some specialist staff, perhaps a research centre or an incubator.  Most initiatives are likely to be found in the business school as opposed to all academic disciplines.

Continuing the analogy, very few institutions have worked out how to “scale-up” those activities, or the entrepreneurial way of thinking, so as to embrace the operation, strategy and culture of the whole organisation.

In this article, we present two videos that explore the idea of the journey of the entrepreneurial university.  We examine an example of one university’s entrepreneurial strategy. We also describe the practical steps that can be taken to progress the journey and the importance of developing entrepreneurial mindsets.

The first video is a conversation between Eleanor Shaw and Paul Coyle.  Eleanor is Associate Principal, at Strathclyde University, in Scotland.  She has been instrumental in formulating INSPIRE, the Univesity’s latest entrepreneurship strategy for 2020/2025. 

Eleanor explains how the Strategy was developed and why one of the four strategic goals is “Developing entrepreneurial mindsets.” She describes how this goal will be achieved and the university’s role in the Glasgow City Innovation District.

The second video is a presentation by Paul Coyle on the topic of "Why the entrepreneurial mindset is more important than ever in Higher Education.”


The presentation was part of a webinar organised by the OCED and the European Commission on the topic "How is Higher Education responding to the challenges created by the Covid19 outbreak?”

In the video Paul discusses the challenge of creating change in Higher Education.  He shares some of the lessons about leading change from the HEInnovate project, which enables universities to self-assess their entrepreneurial strengths and which has, over many years now, been supporting transformation in higher education

Significant change is difficult because it generates positive and negative responses.  It creates new opportunities but also generates uncertainty and complexity - exactly what we are all experiencing as a result of the challenges created by the many restrictions arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Paul argues that the entrepreneurial mindset is exactly what is needed at the moment because it helps people not to be discouraged and instead to feel motivated to play their part in finding solutions and the way forward.  For Paul, an essential idea about the mindset is that it empowers individuals to deal with change.  Not just to be able to cope with change, but to contribute to and to lead change. ◼️