A practical approach has been introduced at the University of Szeged, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, to teach and encourage students from different disciplines to become entrepreneurs.

The course promoting entrepreneurial thinking has taken place in the international Erasmus+ framework. One of the most important missions of the European Union is to encourage the younger generation to become entrepreneurs. Therefore, university students, who represent a high proportion of the young generation, provide an excellent basis to whom entrepreneurship can be promoted.

Why exactly in Szeged?

The University of Szeged is one of the biggest Hungarian universities. There are 25,000 students studying different sciences at its 12 Faculties. Not only the students from the Faculty of Economics and Business Administration can become entrepreneurs. It is becoming more and more important that students from other disciplines gain insight into entrepreneurship. Due to the diversity of disciplines at the University of Szeged and the successful Master’s Business Development training program at the Faculty of Economics, the experimental course has good foundations to be implemented in the future.

Novelty of the course: the attractiveness of entrepreneurial examples

The traditional university programmes are based on a course or seminar, where instructors teach and students take notes. At the end of each semester, students take the appropriate tests. Though more and more courses in the topic of becoming entrepreneurs leave the traditional teaching method behind, they do not always prove to be successful. The organizers of this new course tried to rethink the traditional teaching model based on their previous experiences.

Students could apply with a covering letter and with an introduction of an entrepreneurial idea. The aim of the organizers was to attract only those students, who are serious about becoming entrepreneurs and are willing to take part in courses for their professional development. They wanted to deter those students, who would only have participated in the course for collecting additional credits.

Regarding teachers, organizers invited those people, who are entrepreneurs themselves and have a practice in teaching, or they included those teachers, who have real and first-hand experience on the market. Therefore, they would be able to transfer their own market experience to students. Entrepreneurs and teachers have both participated in the organisation and implementation. Almost 30 entrepreneurs and teachers took part in the course who received a teaching toolkit developed during the EEE course.

From apartment-restaurants to co-working offices

Students worked on 5 project ideas. Based on these ideas, students had to develop and introduce a complete business plan at the end of the semester. Some students had to change the concept of their business, because they had encountered certain problems which could have undermined the basic aim of their enterprise. This happened in case of the co-working office, which was an apartment-restaurant concept originally.

Throughout the course, students worked on the development of a business software, which could monitor the different prices on web shops. Others were concerned with the development of a software, providing financial contribution for animal shelters, while another group worked on a local craft beer manufactory and a social pub-finder application. The final business plans were presented in front of a professional board. The members of the board did not see the completed concepts before. Therefore, they could evaluate the concepts without bias and could provide feedback for the students.

The Facebook page containing the course’s final presentations and pictures can be found on the following link.

© All rights on images used in this article belong to University of Szeged, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration.

Irene Breen, a current MBA student at Queen’s University Belfast and a BSc Architecture (2002) graduate, has seen off competition from over 2,000 entries from across the UK to win the Santander Universities Entrepreneurship Award for her fledgling business ‘BellaMoon’.

Ms Breen was in London last month to collect the prize which includes £20,000 of equity-free seed funding, mentoring from one of the judges at the national final, support from Talent Cupboard and a fully funded intern.

Launched in 2011, the Santander Universities Entrepreneurship Awards have grown to be the UK’s largest student and graduate business pitching competition offering important support to budding entrepreneurs. So far, more than £260,000 has been awarded to graduate start-ups and small businesses through the initiative.

Irene’s winning business BellaMoon, was in the ‘Pre-revenue’ category, defined as a ‘business focusing on ideation, discovery and business validation with minimal sales generated if any’. BellaMoon is currently going through user testing at University of Durham Infant Sleep lab. It is a unique multi-functional baby breast-feeding and co-sleeping bed, pregnancy pillow and baby dock, which Irene is planning to bring to market.

Speaking at the special presentation event, which hosted students from universities and colleges across the country, Nathan Bostock, Santander UK’s CEO, stressed the importance of supporting higher education. He said: “At Santander we recognise the importance of encouraging young entrepreneurs, particularly amongst university students, and we are committed to supporting them every step of the way. We were impressed with the talent, determination and creative thinking showcased today.

To get to the grand final Irene had first to submit a business model canvas and a short video to get shortlisted to the top 30 regional finalists. She then had to travel to Northumbria University to compete against 10 others for a top 2 place in the region before taking part in the London national final where she faced stiff competition from the top 6 (the best 2 out of the three Santander UK regions) challengers. The judging criteria included business mission, purpose and overview, an understanding of potential customers, identification and mitigation of risks and growth strategy.


 Are you an active academic who recognises your students’ potential or a student on the island of Ireland and inspired by Irene’s story? A competition of similar action The 2018 Ireland Student Entrepreneur Awards is now open! There is an opportunity any student studying at a Higher Education Institute on the island of Ireland to turn a great idea into a winning project, cash and even a business with over €30,000 in prizes including an overall winner prize of €10,000! Similar to Santander Universities Entrepreneurship Awards, the competition has three stages: Creating the video and submission of the entry, Proposal of a business plan and Final Judging. Visit the website for more information and registration.

 


We content of this blog article was provided by Canice Consulting Limited. Inquiries to Canice Hamill: @can_consulting1