Introducing students to an entrepreneurial mindset and skillset within higher education institutions is one way to create the leaders of tomorrow. When entrepreneurship is redefined as an academic discipline rather than solely a business venture, it empowers students, faculty and alumni to harness the power of applying research to advance their ideas for the benefit of our economy and society.

First, the entire academic enterprise must value entrepreneurship. Then, a wide subset of constituents will want to learn how to develop an entrepreneurial mindset through the concepts of technology innovation and marketplace impact. From there, universities should promote venture or intervention development to solve pressing concerns locally, nationally and internationally. Universities can encourage innovation by teaching entrepreneurship as a methodological framework, rather than solely new venture creation.

The Entrepreneurship Framework: Curiosity, Connection and Creating Value

Curiosity: Encourage researchers, scholars and learners to keep their eyes and ears open for pain points or friction spots that exist within society or the marketplace. Why is a product less than ideal? Why does a process take so long? How can we improve structures and systems to better serve humanity? A curious mind puts people in a very strong position to react to such queries and find solutions.

Connection: Implore the curious-minded to build upon what other inquisitive people have offered the world. Inquisitive learners should be encouraged to connect with other innovators across geographies, academic disciplines, industry sectors and even time periods, to piece together the most impactful features and benefits to solve a problem.

Create value: Motivate academics to determine if a solution should come from a customer development model. This means academics design and build solutions based on a customer’s wants, needs and expectations. Gaining insight from the most qualitative data sourced directly from end users will ultimately result in global value creation.

Surya Ramani Iyer, a graduate student from India studying technology management at Arizona State University, can attest to the value of learning the three C’s.

“The concept of the three C’s has personally changed my life. This hands-on, dynamic approach to entrepreneurial education helps students advance and adds immense value to society,” said Iyer, who earned an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering from the K. J. Somaiya College of Engineering in Mumbai, India. “By the end of your degree, you’ll have a ‘never give up’ attitude with an inculcated entrepreneurial mindset, which will separate you from others when you graduate.”

Statistically speaking, some of the most impactful entrepreneurs and innovators globally hail from disciplines other than business. Despite this, engineers, social behavioral scientists and humanities scholars may not readily identify themselves as entrepreneurs and innovators. Universities can play a key role in encouraging an entrepreneurial mindset early in so scholars from diverse fields can quickly iterate, design, build and deploy solutions within the marketplace that benefit society.

The number one mission of forward-thinking higher education institutions is to produce “master learners.” To thrive in current and future economies, the innovators of tomorrow need entrepreneurial expertise, the ability to think critically and the resourcefulness and determination to not settle for the status quo.

Entrepreneurship at universities starts with curiosity, connection and creating value.

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