Jan Uwe Wolf, Dean at VIA University College (Denmark)
More than 20,000 students study at VIA; I represent only one campus of about 5,000 students, where most of our international programs and activities are concentrated. Here is where we teach disciplines that have to do with IT, engineering and business. Two thousand of the five thousand students are international students and have come to Denmark from 52 other countries. For our students, entrepreneurship and innovations are not just some disciplines they study — they are to use these skills in all of their other courses.
My point is that all universities — Finnish, Danish, Russian — all face one similar problem: we train people in professions that might still not exist. Several years ago, a research was published in Netherlands that showed that the top-10 professions of 2010 didn't exist in 2002 — and this is becoming a tendency. Thus, we try to give our students the necessary competencies to solve a wide range of problems, most of which are not even defined yet. Some of these skills don't have anything in common with engineering or IT.
ITMO University. Jan Uwe Wolf
At VIA University College, we have an incubation center of eight thousand square meters; this year, there are more than 50 companies there. By working there, our students can broaden their outlook and get the necessary experience.
I am really impressed by ITMO's innovative infrastructure, but it seems that you try instilling innovative thinking only during Master's and Research programs. We do that earlier, during the fourth year's second semester. I strongly believe that the sooner you do it, the better — and it's especially important for those students who don't want to continue their career in science.
Laurie Tenhunen, HAMK University of Applied Sciences (Finland)
At our university, we use modern educational methods to instill more responsibility in our students: the more active they are, the more opportunities they will be able to use to create their own successful businesses. We conduct lots of projects that are financed from different sources — EU, for instance, and our students can take part in them. There are lots of different programs dedicated to project activities. Our main goal is to not only give the students mechanisms for creating a high-technology enterprise, but also the necessary infrastructure, to attract representatives of small and medium-sized businesses.
ITMO University. Laurie Tenhunen
There are seven campuses at our university, and each has a business incubator. What's more, we have a co-op — students can get help there if they are not ready to build their own company yet, but want to sell their services or learn entrepreneurship by practice. Some of these services are used for educational purposes, but students can use them for themselves, as well.
Information is the key to developing student entrepreneurship. Unfortunately, large businesses seldom approach universities. We have dozens of partners among European institutes and universities, Russia included, and I believe that entrepreneurs have to use this network — there are lots of contacts that are always ready to help.