Entrepreneurship Societies have a key role in student entrepreneurship activation and entrepreneurial ecosystem development in Helsinki-Uusimaa Region.
Entrepreneurship societies have raised the public profile of start-ups, celebrated successful entrepreneurs and made entrepreneurship a desirable career path for young people
Entrepreneurship Societies or equivalent are voluntary organisations within Universities that promote entrepreneurship by throwing events, offering networks and by taking part in the developing of entrepreneurial operations in universities. Their idea is to inspire entrepreneurs (-to-be) and help people to work for their own ideas and dreams. Emphasis is mostly on idea development and entrepreneurship activation including how to find good teams.
As an example, Aalto Entrepreneurship Society is the largest and most active student-run entrepreneurship community in Europe. It organises more than 100 events a year, something for everyone interested in start-ups and entrepreneurship. Aaltoes community offers a large variety of inspiring talks and insights related to the scene. All of Aaltoes events and programs are in English and free-of-charge.
Most of Helsinki-Uusimaa region universities have now Entrepreneurships society kind of activities including Aalto University, Arcada University of Applied Sciences, Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences, Hanken, Laurea University of Applied Sciences, Metropolia University of Applied Sciences and University of Helsinki.
All of ES rely on voluntary work and building a community is an essential part of ES. There usually aren’t many if any fulltime people working for ES. Universities and cities support these activities financially. Main resource is the spirit and positive attitude towards entrepreneurship.
Evidence of success
Aaltoes (2016) reached about 10000 people (100 as team members, 250 strong alumni network). ThinkCompany (2016) 498 events, e.g. 4UNI solution competition offered unique solutions to tackle problems in theme frameworks such as Future of Work, Health Gap and World Changers. Laureaes holds 20 entrepreneurship events annually and there are around 50 active members in community arranging. Events vary from Pitch & Beer (pitching event in bar environment) to Cambridge Venture Camp.
ES are dynamic communities, so active members are crucial. Another key resource for all ESs is a workings space where volunteers can gather and plan their activities. Cooperation with the HEI is important. The strong support from high level management of HEIs is important.
Potential for learning or transfer
For HEIs there is a learning possibility in a sense that they should trust and could give societies/students more responsibility to carry out e.g. entrepreneurship activation work. For example, Cambridge Venture Camp is an intensive two week entrepreneurship camp at Cambridge, UK (one week in Finland, one in Cambridge) organized by Laureaes in cooperation with Laurea University of applied Sciences. Supportive attitude towards ES activity within HEI is important. A work space, some funding, active founding members, support and trust from HEI are the key elements. When marketing ES activities entrepreneurship and establishing an own company is not necessarily the target as such, but it is a tool to use/sell your competence.
Students’ grass root activity has been clear phenomenon in Finland. Societies‘ work help those interested get started, gather a team and let you try on your own. Peer to per community also gives members possibilities to learn from those who are more experienced.
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