Engage project wins funding from the research council of Norway’s international partnership

By Frode Halvorsen

A project bringing together world-class education institutions and practitioners from Norway, USA and India to develop knowledge that improves entrepreneurial education and its impact on society has been awarded funding through the INTPART program of the Research Council of Norway.

Entitled the Network for Engaged Entrepreneurship in Developing Economies (NEED), the project will establish a network of institutions to develop knowledge to improve entrepreneurial education and its impact on society by engaging with challenges in low and middle-income countries (LMI).

Students will have the opportunity to work on meaningful sustainability focused entrepreneurial projects of societal value under guidance from academic and subject experts. NEED will generate live projects that students from across disciplines can work on in established courses such as Experts in Teamwork (Eit) and Venture Cup as well as through targeted Summer Schools.

Through its activities, the partnership will also develop knowledge on the challenges and processes involved in starting up and scaling businesses in developing countries and on the process of entrepreneurial learning.

Key facts of the NEED project

Duration: 3 years starting January 2019


  1. NTNU’s School of Entrepreneurship (NSE): established in 2003 at the Department of Industrial Economics and Technology Management (IØT), NSE has a strong record of success with 50 % of the graduates working at their own startup after graduation. With the ambition of increasing the number of students with entrepreneurial skills from across different disciplines, NSE along with partners has established the SFU Engage focused on developing the knowledge and methods for imparting entrepreneurship skills to a wide range of students from across Norway and beyond.
  2. Nord University Business School, Norway: Nord has provided courses and specializations in entrepreneurship at the Bachelor, MBA, MSc, and PhD levels since 1985 and has graduated more than 20 PhDs in entrepreneurship and innovation over the last 10 years. With innovation and entrepreneurship as a priority area, Nord offers a bachelor and master programs in business emphasizing development of entrepreneurial leaders. Further, Nord has a strong position in entrepreneurship research supporting the development of education. Nord is also a partner in SFU Engage.
  3. Babson College, USA: Established in 1919 Babson is a world leading institution for entrepreneurship education, being ranked as the best US business programs within entrepreneurship for decades. Babson focuses on teaching students to use entrepreneurship as a force for economic and social value creation, and solve more than just business problems. Besides being at the cutting-edge of entrepreneurship research and education in general, Babson has also established the Lewis Institute and the Babson Social Innovation Lab, which focus on bringing social innovations to market. Babson College has also initiated the Babson Collaborative, which is a membership organization that brings together educational institutions seeking to build and grow entrepreneurship education for the betterment of our world.
  4. SRISTI, India: Established in 1993, SRISTI focuses on grassroots innovations, meaning technological and institutional innovations developed by individuals and communities that may be economically disadvantaged but are knowledge rich, especially in managing their limited resources. Over the past two and half decades SRISTI been instrumental in documenting grassroots innovations in India, and supporting the innovators through early stage venture support, to scale up products and services through commercial or non-commercial channels.
  5. TARA, India: TARA is a social enterprise set up in the year 1985 to incubate micro-enterprise based green business solutions to environmental and development challenges faced by the poor. TARA’s green technology innovations for habitat, water, energy and waste management, which deliver basic needs and generate sustainable livelihoods, have reduced poverty and rejuvenated natural ecosystems in the most backward regions of India and elsewhere. TARA has also successfully commercialized a number of these technologies and spun off a series of social enterprises.

Key Goals:

  1. Generate entrepreneurship projects that are focused on solving challenges in LMI countries where:
    1. Students learn entrepreneurial skills by working on these live projects
    2. Students learn about and engage with challenges in different contexts by interacting with innovators, entrepreneurs and experts from these contexts
  2. Project workshops where students can work directly on selected projects along with innovators and entrepreneurs from LMI countries
  3. Summer schools where students can work on developing their own ideas for entrepreneurial solutions for selected issues in LMI countries
  4. Integrate the NEED entrepreneurship projects into existing and new courses enabling students to earn credits. Target courses include:
    1. Experts in Teamwork (EiT)
    2. Venture Cup (VC)
    3. Idea Search (Idesøk)
  5. Research workshops focusing on the key areas of:
    1. Knowledge on entrepreneurship processes in LMI countries
    2. Knowledge on entrepreneurial learning
  6. Establish future collaboration

Expected results:

  1. Identification of 75 entrepreneurial projects for students to work on
  2. At least 150 students receiving course credits
  3. A new EiT village is established focusing on entrepreneurship in LMI countries. First two villages to be run in India
  4. At least 10 joint research papers submitted for publication
  5. At least 4 new joint project applications

For more information, contact Vivek Sinha : vivek.sinha@ntnu.no