Entrepreneurship education in action

Norwegian School of Entrepreneurship runs program with US universities and startups

entrepreneurship education

Photo: Luis Villa Del Campo / Flickr
Google’s main campus is one of the sites that Norwegian School of Entrepreneurship students will visit during their time in the Bay Area.

Rasmus Falck
Oslo, Norway

Norway has received international accolades for work on entrepreneurship in education; it’s the first country to present a national strategy for entrepreneurship in education and training. It has been a priority in education policy, and Norway has been a leading force in Europe. Entrepreneurship in education has been evaluated by the Eastern Norway Research Institute. Their conclusion is that it is important to continue focusing on entrepreneurship education.

Entrepreneurship is a skill that can be learned. According to the European Commission, you don’t have to be born an entrepreneur to run a successful business. You can become one by developing an entrepreneurial mindset and skills. Therefore, it is important to support this type of education.

If the Norwegian welfare society is to develop, it is essential to provide everyone with opportunities for taking high-quality education. Our government tells us that society depends on creative people who turn ideas into new enterprises or make improvements within existing enterprises. They believe it is important to implement training in entrepreneurship throughout the country, adapted to local and regional challenges.

According to an article in Forbes, entrepreneurship education as it’s currently practiced does not work. Entrepreneurship classes and programs in colleges around the United States have quadrupled in the past 25 years. Meanwhile, rates of private business ownership for households under age 30 have declined over 60% during the same period. Despite the increase in entrepreneurship classes, fewer young people actually start a business. Something must be wrong.

Let me focus on the award-winning Norwegian School of Entrepreneurship (Gründerskolen), which has an academic cooperation program involving all the universities and university colleges in Norway. It was founded 20 years ago by Professor Nils D. Christophersen in the Department of Informatics at the University of Oslo. He got the idea during his sabbatical year at Stanford. The program has about 150 students annually and is divided into four parts. The introductory course is held in Norway and concentrates on the elements of a business plan. Then, there is a work placement in a startup company in the United States. In addition to the work placement, the students attend classes at one of the partner universities.

The partners are Boston University, Rice University (Houston), University of California, Berkeley, University of Toronto, and National University of Singapore. The students spend the months of June, July, and August abroad. They receive credits equal to one semester from the University of Oslo upon completion. The students must have at least a bachelor’s degree, and there is a stringent selection process in Norway. The program focuses on high-tech startups, and many of the work placements are with companies in the IT, biotech, or other technology sectors.

The program is already recruiting startup companies for next year. If you are a Bay Area startup and need help next summer, 35 Norwegian graduate students will spend the summer in San Francisco, working as interns, while taking classes in innovation and entrepreneurship at UC Berkeley for 10 weeks. If you have an opening, contact Innovation Norway in San Francisco (www.innovasjonnorge.no/en/start-page/our-offices/america/sanfrancisco) or the Norwegian School of Entrepreneurship (www.norwegianschoolofentrepreneurship.com). You can read accounts of the students’ experiences in their own words at www.grunderskolen.no/blogg.

Rasmus Falck is a strong innovation and entrepreneurship advocate. The author of “What do the best do better” and “The board of directors as a resource in SME,” he received his master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He currently lives in Oslo, Norway.

This article originally appeared in the September 6, 2019, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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