Invigorating entrepreneurship and innovation at universities

Invigorating entrepreneurship

Do you think that innovation and entrepreneurship and creativity should be somehow linked in a higher education institution?

Do you think they are linked in your university or college?

Some interesting research by T. Pitso conducted in Scandinavia and South Africa suggests that this is generally not the case. There is a citation and link to the full peer reviewed chapter below. For those time-strapped readers, here is a summary of this article (although we do recommend reading it in full).

Executive summary

The research considered how entrepreneurship and innovation has developed across universities. It dives into why they seem to be separated and seldom linked to faculty; and also questions why creativity is even less recognised than the other two.

The work also includes some useful critique on entrepreneurial education, innovation and creativity and how it is (sometimes poorly) taught.

It ends with a suggested new model to integrate these elements together within a university and further link them to the surrounding ecosystem

Key findings

The key findings (as we interpreted them) were:

  • Innovation and entrepreneurship have followed different growth patterns within higher education institutions.
  • Although creativity is key to both, it has been even more marginalised.
  • In Scandinavia, entrepreneurship is taught with a learning-through-action focus while SA institutions teaching is dominated by the epistemology of mimesis where students become passive recipients of Business and Entrepreneurship Basics knowledge; and a business plan is the final product.
  • Entrepreneurship tends to sit within business schools and not the mainstream of universities
  • Innovation is the responsibility of innovation hubs that may be government sponsored (Scandinavia) or financed by the university (South Africa).
  • There are few, if any linkages between faculty, entrepreneurship centers and innovation hubs.
  • Entrepreneurship and innovation are still located on the margin of most higher education institutions and face a crisis of legitimacy.
  • However, more recently they are gaining traction but more could be done to strategically position them at the core of university activities

Suggested new model

The article goes further to suggest a model to improve integration across the institution including faculty, centers for entrepreneurship and innovation hubs; and then further integration to higher education holding companies (investors in spinouts and startups).

This includes:

  • Suggesting a new unit linking faculty to centers for entrepreneurship and innovation; and also challenging and pushing the faculty in the development of entrepreneurial education.
  • Required improvement in coordination between Innovation Hubs and Centers of Entrepreneurship, which tend to be separate in most institutions.
  • Adding a further link between these centers and higher education holding companies (which invest in spinouts and startups)
  • Fourthly linking this more more integrated higher education system to the broader society as a whole.


In our travels, we have seen many of these challenges at universities around the world – and seen management and faculty attempting to address these issues. This article may well add some clues as to how these separate areas and disciplines may be brought together into what could be an immensely powerful platform to reinvigorate innovation and entrepreneurship in a higher education institution. Furthermore, linking this to a higher eduction holding company could present a clear path to new income streams and optimising the outputs of research and innovation in the institution.

There is little doubt that the fragmentation to which this document alludes is prevent in many institutions and leads to a sub-optimisation of entrepreneurial and innovation efforts. Mashauri could present an interesting opportunity to support a university in undertaking the necessary transformation and our entrepreneurial education platform could form a part of the solution to kickstart this initiative and gain some early wins.

Are you ready to reinvigorate your entrepreneurship and innovation? Why not drop me a line at for an open discussion over a (virtual) cup of coffee?

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Peer-review chapter by Teboho Pitso:

Teboho Pitso (April 11th 2019). An Integrated Model for Invigorating Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Higher Education [Online First], IntechOpen, DOI: 10.5772/intechopen.82502. Available from:

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