You have a business idea that you want to realise, but you’re still in class? Don’t worry. The new semester is kicking off with a number of courses and initiatives targeted at university students with entrepreneurial ambitions. An increasing number of Austrian higher educational institutions is recognising the need to educate students that starting your own company is a viable career option – in order to strengthen the culture of entrepreneurship and national economy as a whole.
WU Garage: an interdisciplinary endeavour
On 7 March, the department of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Vienna’s University of Business and Economics (WU) launched this semester’s interdisciplinary entrepreneurial course – Garage – Business Planning and Performance Management with an event at the Vienna Media Center to introduce the programme (the “toolbox”) and to enable informal exchange of business ideas. The concept behind this course mentored by WU lecturers Thomas Funke, Thorsten Lambertus, and Christopher Lettl is to bring together students from different universities, and therefore different areas of study, in order to develop their own idea into a sound business project. A total of 60 Masters and Ph.D. students from WU, BOKU and TU have signed up for this semester’s course, according to Funke.
“At the moment universities are like islands”
Fostering interdisciplinarity appears to be crucial. “At the moment universities are like islands,” Funke told inventures.eu. “There is almost no cooperation. Especially in entrepreneurship, the different disciplines need to work closer together. Heterogeneity is key to success for every start-up team.” Ideally, he suggests, all universities should make entrepreneurship part of their curriculum.
The interdisciplinary student teams will be coached individually by both the course mentors, and external experts from the field. A successful example of a startup that has developed from a previous Garage course is Viereck, an innovative restaurant concept, in which customers order through tablet computers.
TU !NFORMATICS INNOVATION
Another opportunity for up-and-coming entrepreneurs to get in touch with seasoned entrepreneurs, and receive their input is the !NFORMATICS INNOVATION series of public lectures, which will hold its first event on 8 March. The initiative is hosted by the Technical University in Vienna (TU), and will provide participants with the opportunity to discuss innovation cases with therespective event speakers. The goal will be to identify the Dos and Don’ts of each case, as well as the lessons learned.
Other Entrepreneurship Programmes
The need for entrepreneurship education has been recognised not just in Vienna, but also beyond in recent years and months, as universities from around Austria have launched their own programmes. Those are the Entrepreneurship and Organizational Development at the Johannes Kepler University in Linz, and the Institute for Organization Management and Entrepreneurship at the University of Graz, to name but a few.
Build! Gründerzentrum in Carinthia and the Alpen-Adria University Klagenfurt offer the Entrepreneurship Certicate, which is designed as an additional qualification for those interested. Students from all fields of study are encouraged to participate. Part of the certificate programme is the course “BizKick,” which build! will hold this semester at the Alpen-Adria University and the Carinthian University of Applied Sciences (FH Kärnten). In it, participants are expected to build teams and spend 6 weeks developing their ideas into a sound project. As initial support, each team will get the challenging starting capital of 10 euros.
And even for those, who have already received their university degrees (which, as famous examples show, is not necessarily a prerequisite for entrepreneurial success), there is the Founders Info Event for alumni of the University of Vienna on 14 March, starting at 17:30.
If you’re interested in other startup-related events happening around Austria this month, make sure to check out our very own selection here.