A4 Conference proceedings

Boosting entrepreneurial thinking and acting of doctoral students and researchers in engineering

Publication Details
Authors: Halonen Minna, Lahikainen Katja, Virkki-Hatakka Terhi
Publication year: 2020
Language: English
Title of parent publication: The 1st University-Industry Interaction Conference UIIN 2020
JUFO-Level of this publication: 0
Open Access: Not an Open Access publication


continuously needs highly educated experts to solve complex, cross-sectoral
problems. To understand technological, economic and environmental perspectives
of the industry, doctors in engineering need to have a broader skill set besides
a deep technological knowledge. This study addresses to the increased need of universities
to educate creative and innovative graduates. To enhance entrepreneurship and
innovation skills of doctoral students and researchers, a new type of international
training programme was developed. The main objective of this qualitative case
study is to describe and analyse the implementation of the training programme
through the lenses of integrative pedagogy. The model of
integrative pedagogy aims to create learning situations where the four basic
elements of professional expertise – theoretical, practical, self-regulative,
and sociocultural knowledge – are integrated. Moreover, this study examines participants’
perceptions on the impact of the programme regarding their learning, behaviour
and attitudes.

programme was designed and implemented in collaboration with universities,
research and technology organisations (RTOs) and companies. The main goal was
to formulate participants’ research topics into business ideas taking into
account the needs of potential customers. The programme comprised of three
two-day workshops held in Finland, Sweden and Spain, and online coaching
sessions between the participants and the trainers. The workshops were designed
around the following topics: 1) Leadership and lean start-up, 2) Teamwork and
innovation, and 3) Business models and communications. The workshops served
also as forum for networking and sharing of experiences, i.e. learning with

programme was piloted twice, with altogether 27 participants from universities,
RTOs and companies. The research data consists of the project documentation,
self-reflections written by the participants, and interviews of the
participants and trainers. The mindset change results as the major impact of
the training programme. Prior the programme, the expectations of most of the
participants were not associated with developing of innovation and
entrepreneurial skills, but more or less with developing one’s own work.
However, during the workshop process, attitudes and mindset changed, and business-oriented
thinking increased. Especially, the workshops provided an environment that
strengthened the learning as a social process, which was further enhanced by
students’ self-reflections. Consequently, integrative pedagogy seems applicable
in entrepreneurship education of doctoral students in engineering.
Additionally, this type of training programme targeted to the doctoral students
and researchers in engineering, is more likely to lead into incremental change
on attitudes and behaviour, rather than being a trigger for starting up a
business. In conclusion, the objectives of
entrepreneurship education programmes should be defined according to the prior
knowledge and motivation of the participants. The study also shows that
university education continues to focus on achieving profound expertise in a specific
area, and doctoral students are not sufficiently provided with opportunities to
expand their knowledge base in selling their know-how to companies or
commercializing research.

Last updated on 2020-17-11 at 12:33