Fostering Student Entrepreneurship

An example of the implementation of Student Entrepreneurship Strategy at University of Bologna

Francesca Farnararo
University of Bologna

Maria Cecilia Flores
University of Bologna

Background and Objectives
The University of Bologna - the oldest home of free teaching founded in 1088– is a multi-secular generalist public Italian university, the second largest in the country with 85,244 students, 2,781 faculty and 2,975 staff. According to the 2018 QS World University Ranking, it is among the first 200 universities in the world.
In 2016 a new deal started, with a brand-new governance, with a new strategic plan, determined at creating conditions supporting academic entrepreneurship, e.g. valorization of research results in different forms (university-industry relations, patents, licenses, spin-off) and student entrepreneurship.
The starting point was that, though many interesting initiatives were at place, there was not a central orchestration, which meant inefficiencies in the way actions were implemented, duplications of efforts, and lack of synergies across them.
The university decided to create a new organizational unit devoted explicitly to address university-industry engagement with a threefold objective:
- increase the number of institutional university-industry agreements;
- increase the valorization of research results through the creation of spin-off companies.
- increase student entrepreneurship and, more generally, favor the development of entrepreneurial mindset.
Two separate sub-units/divisions, each staffed with a main responsible and three people, were created to address these three objectives. As concerns the second and third objective, the new division was in charge of implementing several new activities in live with a brand-new strategy having as pillars: raising entrepreneurship awareness, creating more effective support mechanisms to foster, and support technology transfer and creating better conditions to assist newly established spin-offs and student start-ups.
This New Entrepreneurship division works in close coordination with AlmaCube, the incubator of the University of Bologna, and other entrepreneurial institutions at regional, national and international level.