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Introduction and overview

The International Entrepreneurship Academy at the Jönköping University is an international environment that fosters interaction and networking in the same way as firms are expected to, and often do, and in the same way that inventors such as Watt and Edison did with representatives from a social network, which included other scientists, economists, financiers, and entrepreneurs

The Academy is an international collegiate society. Academy's “Chapters” as well as affiliated and joint entrepreneurial programmes shall become operative thanks to academic and business partnerships with:

  • Ebram Investments, which invests internationally in knowledge-driven business initiatives, based in Riyahd (Saudi Arabia)
  • Centre for Higher Education at the Business School of SMEs in Bologna (Italy)
  • Zernike Group, a Groningen-based firm active in the fields of venture capital and commercialisation of technologies (the Netherlands)
  • Euroconsultants, a firm with international expertise in new venture creation, based in Thessaloniki and Athens (Greece)
  • Centre for Entrepreneurship at Essex University (UK)
  • Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, II University of Naples (Italy)

Academy's Chapters and affiliated/joint programmes look like “academic impresarios” whose mission is that of achieving a brand identity by bringing together the best content specialists (outstanding practice-oriented scholars and theory-oriented practitioners), junior teachers acting as “educational consultants”, business mentors, and students.

The brand-owning Academy operates in close cooperation with an external network of alliance partners worldwide (academic institutions, business firms, e-technology enablers, tailored groups of students, et cetera) with which it forms a value-added entrepreneurial community – VAEC.

The VAEC experiments with innovative forms of education in and for entrepreneurship, enticing a new generation of students –the clerici vagantes (wandering students) of modern times, who leave their own countries with the intention of being away for a couple of years or more. Then, usually they return home, often having already implemented their entrepreneurial projects with the VAC's educational institutions and companies abroad where they have been harboured.

There is a growing area of consensus around the assumption that the international mobility of students is a vehicle for superior participation in the two types of entrepreneurship education: the camp that sets the stage for incremental improvements and the camp that sets in motion a process of thinking in unconventional ways and that comes up with heterodox ideas and proceeds in unexplored directions.

Open boundaries, education without borders, new connections, physical and virtual journeys into other places and disciplines: all these are ingredients that foster new ideas. The spirit of entrepreneurship is unconstrained by conventional cultural, political and geographical barriers. Findings from studies of entrepreneurship in different cultural contexts indicate that there are common values shared by entrepreneurs despite the diversity of their cultural roots.

Mobile students enrolled in entrepreneurship education programmes portray one noticeable form of alertness to business opportunities for mutual gain. In this respect, the Academy organises international student mobility by developing a common education space for project-based student exchange schemes, which result in student team internships with universities, higher education institutions and companies from different countries.

The modus operandi of the Academy is characterised by a multi-disciplinary approach, offering “integrative links” between disciplines.

The Academy offers innovative learning settings and hands-on experience inside operating businesses, thereby encouraging more people to become literate in entrepreneurship. The project-based curriculum along with collaborative partnerships with the private sector yields academic and extracurricular programmes that pay for themselves.

There are three dimensions that justify the Academy as a new context for learning:

  • Critical thinking oriented toward ‘doing' – that is, “constructive thinking”.
     
  • Conversion of knowledge into innovation – “Innovation is knowledge in action”.
     
  • Creation of heterogeneous groups of producers and consumers of learning – “knowledge socialisation”.

Within this environment, students combine the theoretical part of their qualification with a real project, realised for a real company.

The Academy provides students with the opportunity to explore entrepreneurial ideas and develop practical entrepreneurial skills to be implemented in the “Incubator without Borders” and turned into fast-growing start-ups (“entrepreneurial growth companies”).

As a catalyst of a pool of interests toward which agents in the market and investors with specialised expertise in starting and growing new companies tend to converge, the Academy makes start-up businesses more likely to succeed.

That "entrepreneurs are born, not made" is a common view. The claim of the International Entrepreneurship Academy is that “people who are taught about entrepreneurship are more likely to build new companies and to take advantage of opportunities designed for entrepreneurs.”

The University is the symbolic milieu of “creators”: intrate spectators, exite creators (“those who enter as spectators exit as creators”) is the inscription found at the entrance of one Italian university. “Those who enter as creators exit as entrepreneurs” is the complementary epigraph of the International Entrepreneurship Academy.

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