The Futures Entrepreneurship Centre was delighted to welcome Dr Theoharakis Vasilis, an Associate Professor of Marketing and Entrepreneurship; the Academic Director of MSc in Entrepreneurship at Alba Business School; a Visiting Scholar at the Aston Business School and the chairman of the board for the European Business Plan of the Year Competition.
We at the Futures Centre were interested to know Dr.Vasilis’s opinion on entrepreneurship in higher education institutions (HEI). In addition to a short interview during which Dr.Vasilis answered our questions, he also delivered a lecture on Experiences in Entrepreneurship in Higher Education Institutions.
We were particularly interested to know Dr. Theoharakis Vasilis’s answers to the following questions:
- Is entrepreneurship needed and should it be a focus area of universities?
- What lessons learned can you share with universities trying to implement entrepreneurship in their institutions?
A short interview with Dr. Theoharakis Vasilis
During the lecture Dr. Theoharakis talked about the importance of HEIs having a clear vision and he also pointed out that Plymouth University’s statement of placing enterprise at the heart of everything is something very unique and a very different approach to other universities. He further highlighted the importance of Entrepreneurship in HEI and talked about various strategies to enable students to achieve higher levels of entrepreneurial thinking.
He believes that entrepreneurship or at least certain aspects of entrepreneurship can be taught. In his experience the important questions that need to be considered are:
- How to train people to take action, because action is essential in Entrepreneurship.
- How to include as many start up activities as possible within courses
- Learning by doing – by students presenting actual business plans to actual potential investors.
The key is to make the process as realistic as possible and the thing that unifies everything is the Business Plan Process. The Business Plan Process exposes students to real scenarios and allows them to learn by doing. He referred to the term PRACADEMICS, the importance of combining academia and practice.
It is important to cover the basics such as: identifying business opportunities; marketing; leadership and strategic management; financial management; accounting; raising capital; persuasion and negotiation; networking; legal and regulatory issues and the business plan – the major integration tool.
Dr. Theoharakis Vasilis thinks that ‘The enterprising university is itself continuously in a startup mode’. He also pointed out that students need to believe in the mission and the vision of their school.
He closed his lecture with a quote from Andy Grove’s book “Only the Paranoid Survive”.
He thinks that some level of Paranoia is not only healthy for start-ups but also for HEIs. How can we be continually improving the process? The best entrepreneurs have learned to make the best out of having really scarce resources.
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