Local Employment and Economic Development (LEED Programme)

Capacity building seminar: Universities, skills and entrepreneurship (Trento, Italy)


A capacity building activity organised within the framework of the
OECD LEED Forum on Partnerships and Local Governance

18-20 October 2010, Trento, Italy


Organised by the OECD LEED Trento Centre 

with the participation of the

Programme on Institutional Management in Higher Education (IMHE)


Background / The Seminar / Who / Material / Contact



Universities are unique places from which great ideas can emerge. Gathering people from various disciplines with different approaches and perceptions of risk makes universities an environment conducive to nascent entrepreneurship. More and more universities across OECD member and non-member countries respond to this opportunity in an active way: they offer courses in entrepreneurship and support future entrepreneurs in accessing finance and premises. Governments play an important role by providing seed funding and a legal framework that sets the right incentives for universities to promote entrepreneurship. At the same time local partnerships between universities, business development organisations, financing institutions, training providers and local governments – that bring together different interests, efforts and resources – are critical to the growth of new firms.

Having the right mix of attitudes, motivation, knowledge and skills is crucial for starting-up, running and growing a business. There is a debate on whether or not entrepreneurship can be taught, what and how training should be provided and by whom. Some universities rely on a more traditional approach in which their business schools are the main actors in developing skills for entrepreneurship, whereas others engage at a broader level by integrating entrepreneurship skills into curricula, using new teaching methods and involving entrepreneurs as trainers and mentors.

Much can be learned from an international exchange of information about the rationales behind university entrepreneurship support and local partnerships to foster the birth and growth of new firms. The seminar explored strengths and weaknesses of different approaches, examined what constitutes good practice in local entrepreneurship support and discussed potential pitfalls.


The Seminar

The 2.5-day programme was structured around a mix of case study presentations by invited experts, OECD analysts and participants and creative group activities. Guided by an OECD criteria list of good practice in local entrepreneurship support, participants were expected to work on individual action plans that helped their organisations to contribute to and benefit from partnership working in entrepreneurship support. An OPENSPACE session offered participants opportunities to engage in depth-interviews with people who design and implement good practices.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Session 1

Promoting innovators, risk-takers and job creators: the role of universities in promoting birth and growth of new enterprises

Session 2

OPENSPACE: good practices under the spotlight

Session 3

The learners’ journey: how can we make it better?

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Session 4

“Action learning for change”

Session 5

Partnerships and strategic positioning in promoting the birth and growth of new enterprises

Session 6

Searching entrepreneurial opportunities in Trento

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Session 7

Taking it further



The seminar was addressed to:

  • University management, professors and researchers, who are actively involved in teaching entrepreneurship and in mentoring start-ups, as well as university staff responsible for start-up support.
  • National, regional and local government representatives, who are already involved, or interested in, the strategic development and financing of local entrepreneurship support, with a focus on universities.
  • Representatives of local business support organisations that are mainly dealing with university spin-offs, and already engaged, or interested in, developing a partnership with universities.


   Download the agenda

   Presentations and background materials

   Coming soon: short video interviews



For further information on the seminar, please contact Andrea-Rosalinde Hofer.