Managing University Support to Entrepreneurship and Entrepreneurs

Carlo Vallini, Christian Simoni


For an individual to be a successful entrepreneur, an adequate combination of motivation, vocation, capabilities, knowledge and power
is necessary. Some of these factors are strictly related to the personality of the individual. The power (to decide, to orientate the managers and
their decisions, to coordinate them, to be the person or to belong to the body that runs the company) is mainly the result of an investiture, of
the person’s capabilities and knowledge, and of his experience. When the entrepreneur is also the capitalist that provides the company with
the stock capital, or with part of it, his power is fed by his dual role as well. Finally, some other factors can be less spontaneously engrained
in the individual, while they can be developed under the stimuli of external intervening forces, including higher education.
First of all, we believe the University can play a relevant role in stimulating the vocation of those young students that already have the
seeds of entrepreneurship. Second, higher education can support future entrepreneurs in developing personal capabilities, such as reducing
scenario complexity, or creatively analyzing the market, or effectively playing leadership, and so on. Third, it can educate potential entrepreneurs
by transferring more codified knowledge into marketing, administrative, financial, technological and other areas. Finally, it can help develop
entrepreneurship in those who already are entrepreneurs.
In this paper we propose a general framework that can be adopted to better target and plan a system of consistent initiatives universities
can undertake to sustain entrepreneurship.
We present the case of the University of Florence, with a particular focus on an undergraduate program, showing some data about the
achieved results and the limitations as well as those of other initiatives the University has undertaken to support entrepreneurship. We also
show how the proposed framework is allowing a more aware and effective planning. We finally discuss some general implications.

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