Turning a traditional university into an entrepreneurial university

The University of Tartu in Estonia, one of the oldest universities in Northern Europe, is experiencing, as many other institutions, challenges linked to the adaptation to the technological society. Under the management of the new Vice Rector for Development, the program of “entrepreneurial university” was initiated with the following objectives:

  • Increase the visibility of the traditional university in the society and internationally as the main contributor to the technological development of the industry and the society as a whole;
  • Focus on entrepreneurship education – developing overall and study area specific new subjects on all levels (overall introductory courses for beginners, tailor-made advanced courses for different study areas, special courses for MSc and PhD level)
  • Change the mindset of the academia as a whole, provide students with development opportunities in their free time through creating an “Idea Lab” as a devel;opment hub and space for multidisciplinary student teams, with further plans to integrate it into curricula
  • Involving students and “think tank” of younger academics as the main force to change the mindset of academic community in the frames of the new development plan
  • Integrate the career service of the university with the students’ and town activities
  • Motivate the academicians additionally to start collaborating with industry and create new start ups

The expectation is that by 2020 about 40-50% from the 13.000 students have participated in entrepreneurship courses and/or multidisciplinary student teams, contract research of the university doubled and at least 20 new research-based spin-off companies have been created.

* The case was extracted from the UIIN Good Practice Series 2014 – Case Studies on Engaged and Entrepreneurial Universities. Arno Meerman & Thorsten Kliewe (eds.) Author: Erik Puura