Universities encourage student entrepreneurs to boost startup culture

[Times of India] Universities encourage student entrepreneurs to boost startup culture

“The entrepreneurial ecosystem today is better than before, both in terms of infrastructure and trained manpower for mentoring,” says Vinod Shastri, Head (CIE) Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship , Bennett University (BU) that has entrepreneurship courses and an on-campus incubator named Bennett Hatchery. “This support has helped student startups raise over Rs 20 crore in funding in just five years,” Shastri informs. Emphasising on the Centre for Innovation & Entrepreneurship (CIE) that came into being since BU’s inception, he explains that the university provides not just education and mentoring, but also support in terms of case-based attendance waivers. Students are also encouraged to work on their own startups in lieu of mandatory semester-long internships. “BU mandatesentrepreneurship educationto all its students irrespective of their stream with courses ranging from core to specialisation, and from electives to minors. The approach has paid rich dividends in the form of a strong entrepreneurial culture that prepares students to take failures in their stride,” Shastri adds. At Visakhapatnam-based GITAM (Deemed to be University), an innovation and entrepreneurship (I&E) policy drives startups run by students, faculty, and alums. “According to the I&E policy, students registered with the incubation facility are given a 10% grace attendance if they run short of the statutory requirement on application and approval by the vice-chancellor; further, to encourage student participation, a Venture Development Centre is authorised to provide internship credits and course credits for the relevant programmes to be rolled out,” says Vikas Kumar Srivastav, senior venture coach, and Innovation and Startup Activities coordinator, Venture Development Centre, GITAM (Deemed to be University) that has budgeted Rs 1.5 crore which would be disbursed as a prototyping and gap fund (to fill the financial requirement of startups between the early and advanced stage). Srivastav explains that a total of 27.2% of the entire Indian population is aged 15–29 years, which will be the key force in driving India towards the enablement of digital entrepreneurship. Since a student of this age group spends most of his/her time at their institute, college, or university, institutional support is key to enabling their ideas to become full-fledged businesses. “It is high time that universities instilled entrepreneurship as an alternative career in the minds of young students,” Srivastav says. But then, not all HEIs are able to give currency to this concept. “In many institutions, the focus is more on getting government grants to become an incubator, while students are left in the lurch primarily because the faculty do not know how to inculcate the entrepreneurial mindset,” says Rajiv Dabhadkar, founder, National Organization for Software and Technology Professionals (NOSTOPS) who works with on campus startups at IIT Mumbai. Referring to BITS Pilani that provides a one-year gap for students to engage in entrepreneurial pursuits, and the IITs where students earn credits for their startup initiatives, Dabhadkar explains that students in HEIs must be given time off from their theoretical curriculum to get credit-based hands-on business experience. “This could be in the form of an in-built internship before they graduate. Merely hosting seminars and inviting subject matter industry experts in HEIs will not foster a culture of innovation,” he adds.

To boost the entrepreneurial ecosystem in universities , AICTE issued an advisory in 2019 to explore provisions of on-campus accommodation and permitting semester breaks for student entrepreneurs working on their startups. Several institutes introduced measures to promote entrepreneurship, but many are still struggling due to a lack of clarity about the idea of entrepreneurship. With multiple entry-exit options and credits now being encouraged for the curriculum and beyond, more HEIs are likely to adopt a flexible startup culture in future.“The entrepreneurial ecosystem today is better than before, both in terms of infrastructure and trained manpower for mentoring,” says Vinod Shastri, Head (CIE) Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship , Bennett University (BU) that has entrepreneurship courses and an on-campus incubator named Bennett Hatchery. “This support has helped student startups raise over Rs 20 crore in funding in just five years,” Shastri informs.Emphasising on the Centre for Innovation & Entrepreneurship (CIE) that came into being since BU’s inception, he explains that the university provides not just education and mentoring, but also support in terms of case-based attendance waivers. Students are also encouraged to work on their own startups in lieu of mandatory semester-long internships. “BU mandatesentrepreneurship educationto all its students irrespective of their stream with courses ranging from core to specialisation, and from electives to minors. The approach has paid rich dividends in the form of a strong entrepreneurial culture that prepares students to take failures in their stride,” Shastri adds.At Visakhapatnam-based GITAM (Deemed to be University), an innovation and entrepreneurship (I&E) policy drives startups run by students, faculty, and alums. “According to the I&E policy, students registered with the incubation facility are given a 10% grace attendance if they run short of the statutory requirement on application and approval by the vice-chancellor; further, to encourage student participation, a Venture Development Centre is authorised to provide internship credits and course credits for the relevant programmes to be rolled out,” says Vikas Kumar Srivastav, senior venture coach, and Innovation and Startup Activities coordinator, Venture Development Centre, GITAM (Deemed to be University) that has budgeted Rs 1.5 crore which would be disbursed as a prototyping and gap fund (to fill the financial requirement of startups between the early and advanced stage).Srivastav explains that a total of 27.2% of the entire Indian population is aged 15–29 years, which will be the key force in driving India towards the enablement of digital entrepreneurship. Since a student of this age group spends most of his/her time at their institute, college, or university, institutional support is key to enabling their ideas to become full-fledged businesses. “It is high time that universities instilled entrepreneurship as an alternative career in the minds of young students,” Srivastav says.But then, not all HEIs are able to give currency to this concept. “In many institutions, the focus is more on getting government grants to become an incubator, while students are left in the lurch primarily because the faculty do not know how to inculcate the entrepreneurial mindset,” says Rajiv Dabhadkar, founder, National Organization for Software and Technology Professionals (NOSTOPS) who works with on campus startups at IIT Mumbai.Referring to BITS Pilani that provides a one-year gap for students to engage in entrepreneurial pursuits, and the IITs where students earn credits for their startup initiatives, Dabhadkar explains that students in HEIs must be given time off from their theoretical curriculum to get credit-based hands-on business experience. “This could be in the form of an in-built internship before they graduate. Merely hosting seminars and inviting subject matter industry experts in HEIs will not foster a culture of innovation,” he adds.