The value of university Entrepreneurs-in-Residence

George Oliver

Dec 31


min read

Universities are focussed on learning and research. Successful application requires systems to integrate and develop products and services commercially. Such innovation delivers value and gains in productivity.

Bridging research, development and commercialisation has seen universities take a more business-oriented direction over recent decades. Student entrepreneurship is encouraged, start-up pathways are developed, incubator places are offered.

Many universities also now offer an Entrepreneur-in-Residence programme to help students gain real world experience by working with experienced founders and business leaders.

Specifics of the role vary between universities but the purpose is often the same: to foster entrepreneurial thinking among students and researchers and promote start-up culture on campus. 

Through sharing their own knowledge and experience, EIRs can help open doors for future business leaders and suggest ways to develop good ideas․

Offering guidance to students

EIRs serve as mentors and advisors for students and researchers. Some of the roles are paid, others are voluntary.

They offer knowledge and expertise based on their own experiences, both in enterprise and in academia.

Entrepreneurs are able to provide realistic, real world advice that can help guide student decision-making as they launch new projects or businesses.

Lessons on business skills

Many entrepreneurs also act as lecturers or guest speakers at universities.

They give groups and class presentations on business development and their own specialisms, such as finance, marketing, leadership and more. 

This helps students gain skills and insights they can use when starting their own businesses - as well as ideas about common pitfalls and challenges.

Start-up events at University of Leicester attract dozens of people

Creating network opportunities

EIRs are usually well-networked across business and within their fields of expertise. This can be of great value to university startups which are setting up in business.

By establishing connections between business, industry and university faculties, EIRs create pathways for students to reach potential customers or investors who can offer support and guidance at no cost.

This can be invaluable for new start-ups trying to get off the ground as having a mentor familiar with the landscape can be key to accelerating success.

Sharing access to resources

As well as providing time and introductions, some entrepreneurs donate other resources to help out aspiring student entrepreneurs.

Access to software, tools or office space that otherwise wouldn’t be available can make a real difference to startups on tight budgets.

Taken together, the combination of shared experience, knowledge and resources can play an important role in enabling students to pursue their business ideas while completing their studies - or starting after graduation.

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