Educating the next generation of tech entrepreneurs: Science-based Entrepreneurship Education as a means for university-industry technology transfer

Project coordinator

Marlous Blankesteijn, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam



The Netherlands

What is the idea behind the ATTRACT Project?

Research question

How can Science-based Entrepreneurship Education contribute to knowledge circulation in innovation ecosystems, such that both students, researchers, and practitioners benefit in terms of learning and creating value?

Project at a glance

  • The NEXT_GEN_TECH_ED project is about the didactical design of science and tech entrepreneurship education.
  • Case studies include entrepreneurship education in several academic environments, such as Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, University of Twente, the R&D&I projects and the ATTRACT Academy Projects.
  • It aims to map the impact of science and tech entrepreneurship education on the development of entrepreneurial innovation ecosystems and science hubs.

Public summary

The central question of this project is: How can Science-based Entrepreneurship Education (SBEE), as a crucial component of European Scientific Research Infrastructures (ERI), contribute to establishing a dynamics of knowledge circulation in innovation ecosystems, such that both students, researchers, and practitioners benefit in terms of learning and creating value? Two related sub-questions in the proposed PhD-project are leading:

  1. Which didactical design principles can be deduced from current initiatives in science-based entrepreneurship education in European scientific research infrastructures?
  2. How to optimize the output of these programs in terms of technology transfer from the university to the innovation ecosystem?

The project contributes to the development of the didactics of science-based entrepreneurship education and a systematic understanding of the contribution of this type of education to the innovation ecosystem.

Entrepreneurship education used to be part of programs at business schools, and to a lesser extent, at technical universities in engineering education, hence, not so much in science faculties. However, interest in teaching science-based entrepreneurship in faculties of science, as being part of European scientific research infrastructures, has recently greatly increased (Blankesteijn, Bossink, & van der Sijde, 2020). Fundamental science holds an enormous potential to contribute to the solutions of big societal problems of today, such as the recent pandemic and subsequent innovations in vaccine development have so poignantly shown. Science-based entrepreneurship education is a means to commercially and societally valorize innovative scientific knowledge developed.

The objective of the study is the development of a method that is theoretically novel and directly relevant to educators and policy makers, and aims to evaluate the socio-economic impact of pure science, as well as their economic spill-overs, via education. We aim to research how European scientific research infrastructures can position themselves as entrepreneurial actors and learning hubs in an innovation ecosystem comprising start-ups, established companies, incubators, and other innovation hubs, and governmental organizations – thus optimizing their potential to contribute to solving societal problems.

The project dives into didactics of teaching and preparing students to play a role in this context via facilitating processes of knowledge circulation via projects, internships, etc. The project also researches the effects of such programs on establishing such processes of knowledge circulation.