HLX4EU: International workshop of socially responsible entrepreneurial university

On the third and last day of our event, we had the International workshop of socially responsible entrepreneurial university which was integrated into the Triple Helix Conference after both events had to be turned online due to the current pandemic. The day began with an opening ceremony hosted by Dr. Yuzhuo Cai with the presence of two keynote speakers: Taru Pilvi, Tampere University Director of Innovation and Dr. Caterina  Berbenni-Rehm, Advisory Board’s member of AI & Society, Springer Editors and co-founder of the ‘European Entrepreneurial Regions Initiative’.

In the first minutes of the session, Dr. Cai introduced the importance of the concept of the Entrepreneurial University, which has become a global idea present in many university managers’ thinking. He then mentioned how universities have been facing a demand for broader roles in participating in the solution of societal challenges. With that introduction on the need for a more socially engaged entrepreneurial university, the keynote speakers proceeded to make their contributions.

The broadened understanding of innovation in the university context brought by Taru Pilvi

Taru Pilvi brought her experience in Tampere University to show how an innovation culture can be fostered in the university environment. She brought the challenges that come with managing culture in a multicultural and multidisciplinary environment and highlighted that her experience in the university led her to change her assumptions about innovation. She highlighted the need to think beyond the creation of spin-offs and technology transfer, showing the importance to foster innovation culture in the university community, creating entrepreneurial minds. About the multidisciplinary environment of Tampere University, Taru mentioned her efforts to engage all disciplines in the innovation process, creating a common language that fits not only the disciplines more closely related to entrepreneurialism, but that can include fields such as social sciences and humanities. Finally, Taru brought the importance of student protagonism and autonomy in the innovation culture of a university, mentioning that Tampere University tries to support the student’s ideas, giving the resources when needed, but allowing students to be autonomous and engage in causes they feel are important.

The representation of Janus

Dr. Caterina Berbenni-Rehm presented her vision of the socially responsible entrepreneurial university using the metaphor of Janus, who in Roman mythology was the god of transition and is frequently represented with two faces, one looking at the past and the other in the future. Caterina’s presentation followed this logic, showing a vision of the past and future of universities, with a critical view of the present.  She highlighted that our current revolutionary period of transition and radical changes at all levels, is requiring also universities to reinvent themselves through ‘internal’ and ‘external’ entrepreneurship. Internal entrepreneurship, understood as the management, optimisation of internal processes and resources towards long-term sustainability, while External entrepreneurship typically entails technology and well-structured knowledge transfer towards spin-offs with genuine entrepreneurial spirit. Furthermore, Caterina mentioned the risks professors face when they have too many different roles and tasks. Finally, she highlighted some key enablers of entrepreneurship, bringing important aspects that were discussed through the event such as intellectual property and true collaboration.