Under the auspices of the European University Enterprise Network (EUEN) and with responsibilities of the Banking, Finance and Entrepreneurial Activity area of the Cantabria Campus International, the University of Cantabria held Leaders Forum 2012: Entrepreneurial Forum which brought together all interested parties within the University to debate, analyse, share ideas and establish a road map based on real conclusions for the future of entrepreneurship in the region and to create an entrepreneurial university.
A month before the forum was held, a survey based on Allan Gibb´s “The University Entrepreneurial Scorecard” was given the future participants of the forum to attempt to understand the principal challenges, successes and short comings of the University of Cantabria as an entrepreneurial institution. The results of this survey were presented during the conference so as to create a collective consciousness about the current state of the University in terms of entrepreneurship. The various internal opinions came from across the entire University as the survey was sent to all of its different branches, while reaching deans, department heads, heads of chairs, professors, directors of university foundations and institutions, researchers, etc.
The specific university areas that participated in the survey were as follows: The Colleges of Civil Engineering, Industrial Engineering and Telecommunications, and Nautical Studies; the Faculties of Science, Business Administration, Economics and Law, Education, Philosophy and Arts, and Medicine; the schools of Nursing, Mining and Resources, Tourism, Physical therapy, and Doctorate Programmes; the SME, Family Business and Entrepreneurship Chairs; the UCEIF and the Leonardo Torres Quevedo Foundations; the Institutes of Physics, Environmental Hydrology, Prehistoric Studies, and Biomedicine and Biotechnology; the Centre for 1 Employment Orientation and Information; the CIESE Centre for Superior Studies of Spanish Language; and the Vice‐chancellor´s office of Research and Knowledge Transfer.
It is interesting to note that the 3 highest and lowest average marks (0‐5) recorded in this survey on the University of Cantabria as an entrepreneurial university. The highest average marks were attributed in the following areas: Section 2: Governance ‐ Level of understanding of the Chairperson of the Board or Council of the relevance the entrepreneurial concept and its associated agenda (including active engagement) (4.47); Section 1: Concept Vision, Mission Strategy ‐ Strategic commitment to local and regional development (4.32); Section 2: Governance ‐ Level of understanding of the relevance of the entrepreneurial agenda by the Council or Board (4.05). The lowest average marks were found in the following areas: Section 11: Enterprise Entrepreneurship Education ‐ Each department with entrepreneurial curriculum champion (1.50); Section 11: Enterprise Entrepreneurship Education ‐ Entrepreneurship education embedded in each department curriculum (1.58); Section 10: Internationalisation ‐ Overseas alumni relations (1.62).
The forum began with opening speeches from the members of the panel which included: the President of the University of Cantabria José Carlos Gómez Sal; the Vice‐Chancellor of Students, Employment and Entrepreneurship Rafael Torres Jiménez; the Director of the Banking, Finance and Entrepreneurial Activity area Francisco Javier Martínez; and the Coordinator of the EUEN Project in Spain and University of Cantabria Professor Ana Fernández Laviada. The President reminded the participants in the forum of the importance of entrepreneurship for the future of the University of Cantabria saying that “entrepreneurship is a word used by everyone, but we have to define it so it can be translated into actions and not just a topic of conversation” while adding that entrepreneurship is already a reality in the University and the challenge now is to create a “global strategy” within the University. Also, to help the participants understand the EUEN Project and the direction in which it is moving, two video‐conference calls via Skype were made to both EUEN Project Manager Gideon Maas and EUEN Project Developer John Wright.
The six hour forum was centred on five basic questions concerning the concept of an entrepreneurial university: 1. What is an entrepreneurial university? 2. How can we exert our influence so that is becomes one? 3. What benefits are obtained? 4. What barriers exist? 5. What could help to accomplish this? Every person at the forum was given the opportunity to answer these questions and post their answers together for all to see using five posters and colourful post‐its. These answers were then collected for their posterior analysis since they 2 were deemed too important to lose or to not take advantage of the applied and thoughtful insight.
During the forum, the participants were split into five work‐groups, each given a different view point to take as their own (Mission, Government and Strategy; Commitment of the Stakeholders; Education for Entrepreneurship; Internationalisation; and Knowledge Transfer, Exchange and Support) and each consisting of members of the student body, administrative services personnel members, professors of different fields of study and a high ranking University official involved in entrepreneurship. This was done in order to debate and make concrete conclusions surrounding these five essential questions. Every member of the group was given a chance to explain their answer to the question at hand and, afterwards, the group leader summarised the answers into two all‐encompassing conclusions that were later presented to the other members of the forum. Therefore, the five crucial questions that help define an entrepreneurial university were addressed, debated and jointly summarised based all the participant´s points of view.
Towards the end of the forum there was a brief explanation of the value of entrepreneurship in a real‐world business context from one of the high ranking R&D officials from the University´s main sponsor, Banco Santander. Finally, the main proposals from the work‐groups, those that will lead to a plan of action, were summarised and presented to the forum. Several examples of these concepts are as follows:
- Change the perception of the concept in regards to what an entrepreneurial institution implies;
- Implant institutional support strategies for entrepreneurship;
- Revise the institutional policies and structures to improve the impact of entrepreneurship; Improve the learning opportunities of the personnel, students and alumni; Introduce entrepreneurial learning formulas in all disciplines;
- Expand the strategic role and participation of enterprise in the academic area; etc.