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EU academia must do more to support entrepreneurs, says Leru


Universities should lead on entrepreneurship education, group says, including by rewarding innovation

EU academia should do more to support entrepreneurs, a group of universities has said as part of its attempt to shape a forthcoming innovation agenda for the bloc.

The League of European Research Universities published recommendations to address the key innovation challenges identified by the European Commission in a recent call for input on the New European Innovation Agenda, which is expected to be launched next month.

The main challenges according to the Commission are access to finance, framework conditions, fragmentation of the EU innovation system, innovation performance and developing entrepreneurial talent.

Taking the lead

In its recommendations published on 28 June, Leru said universities should “take the lead” in entrepreneurship education.

“Researchers should be trained for a multitude of roles in society, requiring a shift of perspective from a straight career track to multiple career pathways,” it said.

Research funders should support researcher development, Leru said, by enabling them to work on innovation ideas and gain wider skills from participating in conferences, talks, courses and networking.

To enable mobility between academia and industry, “universities will need to have flexibility with respect to salary”, according to the group, while governments should facilitate “flexible career pathways”.

Universities should also “develop open, explicit and transparent reward systems” for innovation and take it into account for individual promotion, Leru said.

It added that “more work is also required” for women to be able to succeed as company founders.

Beyond supporting individual entrepreneurs, Leru’s recommendations included targeted investment in university startups and creating a virtual market place for startups to engage with potential customers across Europe.