Entrepreneurship education needs innovation focus

By Wei Jiang Source:Global Times Published: 2017/10/17 22:08:39

Illustration: Peter C. Espina/GT

Education is an undertaking of long-lasting significance. Along with an upsurge of entrepreneurship in China, which seems to indicate that mass entrepreneurship has become a national obsession, a campaign-style entrepreneurship education has also become trendy among Chinese universities and colleges.

The real question is what kind of entrepreneurship education is needed. In late September, the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and the State Council announced guidelines for creating an environment of healthy growth for entrepreneurs, boosting the entrepreneurial spirit, and allowing entrepreneurs to play their role better.

The guidelines require protecting entrepreneurs' property rights in line with the rule of law, building a new relationship between administrative authorities and businesses that is close yet transparent, and enhancing the cultivation of outstanding entrepreneurs.

Starting a business is closely linked to entrepreneurship, so education in this field should focus on nurturing the entrepreneurial spirit. China must determine its entrepreneurial talent needs and how the nation's colleges should customize their entrepreneurship education to support the strategic vision for the coming three decades.

China's development began as it learned from and imitated developed economies' technological attainments. But the country's rise to further prominence must rely on its accumulation of technological strength, driven by innovation. This will require concerted efforts from a group of entrepreneurs who have an overarching vision and regard as their own mission the task of enabling a rising China.

There's a greater need for entrepreneurial talent with a strategic and innovative mindset, being oriented toward core technologies and able to push economic development and reshape the industrial structure.

Known as "SEI" talent - an acronym for strategy, entrepreneurship and innovation - they must have a long-term strategic vision that fits into the national scenario of remaking the industrial structure and development model. They must have an entrepreneurial spirit flowing through them, which means they won't just seek quick profits but will instead have the guts to redefine industrial economic cycles. They must also seek to achieve disruptive breakthroughs and be capable of reshaping traditional industries through innovation and taking the lead in pushing for technological advances, to turn China into an innovation powerhouse of the world economy.

Such people, it is believed, will tie their fate with the fate of the nation as they pursue their business ventures, with their eyes fixed on the restructuring of the Chinese economy at large.

With entrepreneurial activity in China shifting toward being science-based and underpinned by original technological capacities, the country's enterprises will lean toward entrepreneurial efforts that serve humanity and are internally driven by social responsibility. Likewise, the country's entrepreneurship education should embrace a new future.

First, there needs to be a focus on nurturing and enhancing the entrepreneurial spirit. This implies entrepreneurship education in Chinese universities and colleges should be mission-oriented, arming students planning to start their own businesses with a sense of their historic mission, and with a knowledge of Chinese culture and philosophy. In this way, prospective entrepreneurs will be encouraged to undertake the task of pressing ahead with China's economic development.

Second, the innovation gene should be embedded into the entrepreneurial spirit, which suggests students should be trained to keep uncovering new knowledge and seeking to identify major technological breakthroughs and renovating business models by setting up their own businesses. They should also be encouraged to embark on ventures that can remake and upgrade existing enterprises.

Third, teachers should hone their own qualities to ensure entrepreneurship education has the desired effect and guide the students into pursuing genuine entrepreneurial practices.

Finally, there should be a union of enterprises and institutes of higher learning to lay the foundation for bringing entrepreneurial ideas into business realities.

These efforts are intended to cultivate entrepreneurial stars such as Apple's late founder Steve Jobs, Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Huawei's founder Ren Zhengfei. Observers believe that an ecosystem of entrepreneurship education, powered by innovation, needs to be put in place. This will pave the way for the entrepreneurial spirit to become a healthy power that leads China's development.

The author is dean of the School of Management at Zhejiang University. bizopinion@globaltimes.com.cn



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