Raising ‘the pirate flag’ in entrepreneurial education with Stanford University
An initiative that aims at offering state-of-the-art education on scalable ventures, Aalto Ventures Programme (AVP), where research informs practice, is being developed at Aalto University by 2013.
Earlier in November a group from Aalto University, including Aalto Entrepreneurship Society (Aaltoes), journeyed to California to spend a week working with their partners at the Stanford Technology Ventures Program (STVP) in Stanford University. Located in the heart of the Silicon Valley, STVP is a center focused on advancing entrepreneurship education, research, and outreach to students, scholars and business leaders.
"Bridgebuilding between the two universities is meaningful for both. We got to know each other in a personal level, and exchange views on how to move forwards in research and teaching. This is crucially important for future co-operation", says Aalto University Vice-President Hannu Seristö.
Finland is evolving into a startup nation. Aalto University is lucky: it is a home to amazing students, who have created startup activity in Europe. This has also been widely recognized in international level.
In current thinking on how to view business, there is a big difference between running a small business and a growth venture. The latter is designed to disrupt industries and to make the world a better place. Risk is inherent and these change makers cannot exist without funding from venture capitalists and support from experienced entrepreneurs. The Silicon Valley has a culture of paying it forward. If you have succeeded, you put your know-how and resources back into the system.
"This trip helped understand how to aid startups add value and reduce risk", says Jouni Partanen, director of the BIT research center at Aalto University.
Raise the pirate flag!
While entrepreneurship and entrepreneurs are no longer viewed as outlaw activity, startup companies do challenge the status quo. An experienced serial entrepreneur Steve Blank is currently renewing how scientists are taught entrepreneurship in the United States. During his visit to Finland earlier this year he declared, that "every university entrepreneurship center should raise a pirate flag – they are to challenge the status quo in universities".
"This practice is still developing in Finland", says Olli-Pekka Mutanen, head of BIT Software Business Lab at Aalto University.
The Aalto Way
Entrepreneurial education at Aalto University is developed to aim at reaching the widest possible audience and provide students with study experiences where they can try out their passions. Though there is no instant recipe for success, there are tools and activities that make success more likely.
When Aalto faculty met with a Chilean colleague Mike Leatherbee, he described how they are leapfrogging Stanford in some areas. This relates to bringing art and design people together with engineering and business, which is exactly what Aalto already does.
"I believe, that we are well on the way in becoming a top university in teaching entrepreneurship within the next few years in Europe", says Aalto President Tuula Teeri.
In order for AVP to succeed, collaboration is to be expanded with faculties from all Aalto schools. Entrepreneurship is not something you need to always take a separate course for, it must also be embedded into other domains. As Paavo Kinnunen and Risto Ilmoniemi, both professors at the Department of Biomedical Engineering and Computational science, see it, "AVP is a startup we're involved with and something we'll introduce to our students".
" If we want to be the best in entrepreneurship education, we are going to walk the famous line between reality, arrogance and hallucination", says Will Cardwell, director of the Aalto Center for Entrepreneurship. "But we can certainly do it!"
For information on how to get involved, see the AVP wiki (wiki.aalto.fi)