Innovation and entrepreneurship can be explored and practiced in many different ways. Therefore, we asked three of the brilliant minds at Engage to tell us how they work with innovation and entrepreneurship.
Sigrid Westad Brandshaug is a Ph.D. student at Engage. Her research focuses on how entrepreneurial teams handle challenges and uncertainties, which is also relevant to today’s COVID-19 crisis.
Begin stuck can enhance both innovation and learning
– I am exploring how entrepreneurial teams move from being “stuck” in a challenging situation to getting “unstuck”, and what they learn in this process. This question is relevant these days when the whole society is “stuck” as a result of the corona crisis. What I find in my research is that this state of “stuckness” actually can enhance both innovation and learning, depending on how the team handle the challenge they are facing. Maybe that applies to the situation our society is currently experiencing as well? There are many interesting examples of this nowadays where we see new products, services and ways to reorganize as a response to the challenging situation. And it will also be very interesting to see what we learn, as individuals and as a society, from being in this crisis.
I believe that teams, in general, will benefit from having an entrepreneurial mindset
– Independently of the Corona-crisis, I assume that if we look more closely at the process behind innovations, we will find that they are not a result of an “individual hero” making an effort, but rather ideas implemented as a collective effort. That is also why I am interested in the entrepreneurial team, because entrepreneurship and innovation are mainly a team-based activity. To solve complex problems, you need different perspectives and competences, – and people are usually also more creative and persevering when working in a team with others. Therefore, I think it is important to have the team perspective in Engage. Well-functioning teams will be better entrepreneurs! But I also see it the other way around, – I believe that teams in general (not only entrepreneurial teams) will benefit from having an entrepreneurial mindset; where the team is open to new ideas, dare to explore and make mistakes, are open to feedback from stakeholders, able to reflect and makes changes to improve. Together with colleagues in Experts in Teamwork I am therefore offering seminars and exercises for teachers that help stimulate the entrepreneurial mindset of students in Experts in Teamwork.
Entrepreneurship is the ability to turn ideas into action
Fufen Jin works as an analyst and researcher for Engage, and is the leader of Engages work package Documentation and Dissemination of Knowledge.
Fufen believes that entrepreneurship is important because entrepreneurship is the ability to turn ideas into action. She explains that entrepreneurial skills such as creativity, innovation and risk-taking, as well as the ability to plan and to manage projects in order to achieve objectives, help to pave a road to success, not only for entrepreneurs, but also for all others who wish to contribute to moving the world forward, she explains.
In a way, all Engage stakeholders are with us in creating a comprehensive knowledge base regarding entrepreneurship education
-Engage has a vision to increase the number of students in Norway and around the world with entrepreneurial skills and mindset to become change agents and innovate for the better. An important task of mine is to gather knowledge and provide evidence that shows whether and how this vision is achieved. This has been done through questionnaire surveys, interviews, observation notes, and some other methods. In a way, all Engage stakeholders, through participating in Engage activities and contributing to the data collection process, are with us in creating a comprehensive knowledge base regarding entrepreneurship education. This knowledge is further disseminated to advance our understanding about entrepreneurship education and research.
Entrepreneurship and innovation is about creating value for others
Elli Verhulst is an associate professor at the section of Experts in Teamwork. She is leading work package 1, where they focus on how students from all disciplines can develop interdisciplinary teamwork skills. Next to that, she is mostly involved in Engages focus areas on sustainability and teachers (train-the-trainer).
Elli explains that for her, entrepreneurship and innovation are about creating value for others. This can be done through understanding the needs, coming up with solutions for those needs, and making these solutions available for those who need them.
– Such solutions can be products, services, organizational or systemic changes. I see the role of innovation and entrepreneurship in the skills and mindset that these fields offer, and that is crucial to make a change for the better to happen. You need for example insights and experience from different (professional) perspectives, as well as the skill to cooperate with others within and outside your organization. And this is where interdisciplinary teamwork skills come into the picture.
Entrepreneurship and innovation have a crucial role in shaping change agents
– When we see the challenges the world is dealing with, both today and in the future, it shows how some people see what is needed, take action and mobilize others with the aim to help those in need. These are the changes agents we need, and entrepreneurship and innovation have a crucial role in shaping them.