AU needs an entrepreneur factory

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A working group has just presented a proposal for a new entrepreneurship service for students at AU. Now they’re waiting for the proposal to be considered by the senior management team.

2019.03.13 | Lene Ravn

The entrepreneurs pictured here all started their companies while they were still students at AU, and you can read their stories in Omnibus over the next few weeks. If you ask Minister for Higher Education and Science Tommy Ahlers or AU’s senior management team, which will soon be considering a proposal to establish a new ‘entrepreneur factory’, we need a lot more entrepreneurs like them. Photos: Sebastian K, TechSavvy Media (left), Lene Ravn (middle and right).

Translation: Lenore Messick

Minister for Higher Education and Science Tommy Ahlers (Danish Liberal Party) has announced that the universities must become “incubators for startups”. Himself a successful entrepreneur, Ahlers’ ambition is for the universities to hatch ten new multimillion-dollar companies in the next ten years.

And in January, University Director Arnold announced that AU needs to generate more startups:

“We also have an entrepreneur factory with mentors on the way that will help our students and researchers test and develop their ideas to help them establish startups companies that can contribute to prosperity in Denmark.” 

Since October 2018, a working group at AU has been working on a proposal that is expected to be considered by the senior management team before long.

What about the Aarhus Student Incubator?

AU already has an incubator for entrepreneurial students – the Aarhus Student Incubator, which is currently helping 42 companies by proving office space, mentors and guidance.  

Most of the entrepreneurs at the Aarhus Student Incubator are from Aarhus BSS (62% in 2018), followed by Arts (16%), Health (14%) and ST (8%).

According to the Student Incubator’s own stats, one-third of the affiliated companies still exist after the students graduate. This is somewhat below the average for all startups in Denmark, 51-54 percent of which exist after three years, and 42--46 percent of which exist after five, according to figures from the Statistics Bank (for the period 2006-2016). 

On the other hand, the students gain valuable experience: those who don’t continue with their businesses find work quickly after graduation. In fact 50 percent of them get jobs immediately, according to the Aarhus Student Incubator.

Whether the incubator will continue on in its present form, be replaced or be expanded is one of the things the senior management team must now decide.

Omnibus has spoken with four young entrepreneurs who started their companies while they were students at AU. Some of them are still students, and others have come a long way with their companies. And over the next few weeks, they’ll be taking turns telling us about the journey from concept to managing director, why they chose that path and in some cases, what it has cost them.

READ MORE: Two AU med school grads develop popular app for medical students

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