(MENAFN- The Peninsula) deepak john |
Doha: Universities play a critical role in educating the next generation of talent needed for society. Increasingly, many universities are embarking on various programmes to help their students become innovators and entrepreneurs, experts discussed during an event recently.
Qatar Research Development and Innovation Council (QRDI) organised a virtual event entitled 'Education, Research and Service – now start-ups too?'. It discussed how important the role of universities is in developing tech entrepreneurs and building start-ups. It explored the most effective programmes in developing an innovative mindset among students and whether universities should get involved in managing a venture fund to invest in their startups.
Speaking during the event, Dr. Lotfi Belkir, Associate Director of Entrepreneurial Transformation at SIEED Office, Qatar University, highlighted the role of education and good practices that have led to positive outcomes and also the importance of developing tech entrepreneurs including startups.“Universities have a threefold mission of teaching, research, and service.
The university's central role is the advancement of societal growth whether economic, societal or environmental and it is here to be the core engine for that advancement, and if we look at the university model, we are specialised today in those faculties, department and sub specialisations.
“With the emergence of the information age, we are starting to see the specialisation trend when innovation is coming from entrepreneurs and tech entrepreneurs, economic growth and creation of new jobs is mostly coming from startups, not from the established companies,” he added.
QU looks at innovation not in terms of tech driven versus lab driven but rather as a holistic way of creating value in the society that sometimes is IP, business, or market driven as long as innovation happens,” he said.
“We have essentially made socio, sustainable economic impact as the fourth pillar next to teaching, research and servicing. We are targeting the whole university community whether it is students, or the faculty of the researchers and even the staff. We are approaching it as a holistic approach where we are not focusing only on the founders but we are focusing on training the talent that is going to be able to work in this entrepreneurial society and economy rather than being specialised and not only competent in only one specialty, because that does not help to solve major and complex challenges,” he noted.
Dr. Belkir further said,“As an education institution we are here to develop the human capital first. The right kind of education and training that is based on many years of experience is essential and is what it takes to train an entrepreneur. We have also developed a framework that we call a universal innovation framework that is a synthesis of a lot of entrepreneurial models like agile and lean startup model. Startups go through several stages of development like incubation and the training, funding and support that is appropriate to the particular stage of development.
“We have launched this, which is as an experiment and it's been a year since we launched this whole comprehensive ecosystem and training programme that is stage-based. We have seen encouraging results so far. Five of our early teams have now registered as a company and starting to see some sales, market traction and some of them are IP based.
“We need to embed entrepreneurship, innovation and sustainable development across all disciplines in a way that prepares those young kids to be successful in the market place and have an impact. I think it is our job to try to bring entrepreneurship, innovation and education as an enhancement to the education experience. I believe we can do so by proper guidance, and timing of the courses.”
Ben Mumby-Croft, Director of Entrepreneurship, Imperial College London; and Prof. Dame Fiona Murray DCMG CBE, William Porter Professor of Entrepreneurship and Associate Dean of Innovation and Inclusion at the MIT School of Management shared their insights, while Dr. Francis Yeoh - Senior Advisor, Qatar Research Development and Innovation Council and Professor for Entrepreneurship, National University of Singapore - moderated the event.