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Coming soon: First book for teachers about value creation pedagogy

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Today it was made official – the first book for teachers about value creation pedagogy will be released in April in Sweden. Unfortunately for non-Swedish, it will be in Swedish. The author is Maria Wiman, a teacher in Huddinge on lower secondary education level. I first heard about Maria when we sent out a call for good examples in practice of value creation pedagogy in 2015. Her name was mentioned, and it turned out that Maria had started working this way by chance about 5 years ago mainly through own serendipitous discovery. We soon found each other, and have kept in touch since then. Maria and her students were part of our largest study for Skolverket (Swedish National Agency of Education) on value creation pedagogy, and her teaching was among the best examples we found in the 19 schools around Sweden that participated. Our report to Skolverket in Swedish is available here. Results from this study are currently in review in a scientific journal.

Maria was interviewed by the publisher of the book, Lärarförlaget, and I have below translated her answers to a few basic but very interesting questions.

Making a difference for real

Q: What is value creation pedagogy?

Maria: It’s about creating something of value for someone else, finding a recipient and a situation outside the classroom where the knowledge has meaning and significance.

Q: Who should read this book and why?

Maria: I myself lacked a book when I started working this way. The book is for all teachers who want to find the motivation and make students think that school is fun.

Q: For which age is value creation pedagogy best?

Maria: I’ve primarily used it on lower secondary education level, but it works fine to start earlier, in primary school, and also to continue on upper secondary education level.

Q: Your class has worked with preventing hate on the internet, do you need a theme to work around? Or how do you get started?

Maria: You can absolutely start with a theme. But to get started I’d recommend to start small. When you’ve read a book, you can send a letter to the author and write about what you thought about the book. Or read aloud for preschool kids. Or write a fairy-tale to them!

Q: Do you work value-creating every lesson?

Maria: No – neither I nor the students would cope with that. But often, it is enough to have a project on-going in one subject. It spreads, and causes a positive impact also on the other subjects. My planning becomes easier, sterring documents and learning goals come to me, so that next step comes more natually.

Q: You give talks a lot both in Sweden and around Nordics, which questions do you get from the audience?

Maria: The most common question is: What do you assess? Then I answer that this is just ordinary teaching – we follow the same steering documents. In addition to my students’ knowledge and skills, I can also assess their entrepreneurial competencies.

Q: Is there any research on this?

Maria: Martin Lackéus has written a dissertation about the effects, and shows very positive impact in terms of how much student motivation increases, and that creativity and courage are stimulated.

Q: How has value creation pedagogy changed your role as a teacher?

Maria: Primarily it has made my job way more fun. It is a completely different “go” in the classroom, which spreads to both the classmates and to me. My students say about me: “Maria, you’ve become much more relaxed!”. Nowadays I dare to let my students’ ideas in, and that means everything. And when I look back – they are right. It was super boring in fourth grade…

Q: Your students that you’ve had since grade 4 will soon finish 9:th grade in the spring. What do you think they have taken with them by working value-creating?

Maria: With a risk of sounding prententious, I’m convinced that my students know how to change and improve the world. They have been given all the tools for how to use their creativity and their drive to make a difference for real.

 

VCP List expands and gets new layout and classification

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It was long overdue, but finally VCP List has been given a new layout based on a new classification, and thereby also a new section covering also Value Creation Pedagogy. The importance of classification work is here illustrated by a picture of Charles Darwin accompanying this blog post.

Over the years our research on Venture Creation Programs (VCP1) has morphed and expanded into research on Value Creation Pedagogy (VCP2). It all started with the realization that students creating value for others was the “active substance” of Venture Creation Programs (rather than the fact that they start a legal entity). And when we took this idea of learning-through-creating-value-for-others outside of Venture Creation Programs, it turned out that it was possible to reach really strong effects without having to go through the complex process of starting a new venture. Achieving the sought-after effects (or at least parts of them) without having to spend the capital and human labor cost of running a venture creation program. Thus, a better deal for taxpayers. More bang for the buck.

This process has taken some years, and I’ve been quite confused around the resulting semantics. When people in the UK started to call Value Creation Pedagogy for VCP, confusion accelerated. We had all from the start used the “VCP” acronym for Venture Creation Programs, and suddenly people started to use this same acronym for something else that was very much related, but still a different animal. And also within Venture Creation Programs, there was significant confusion. What IS a Venture Creation Program? What is NOT a Venture Creation Program? Is Team Academy a Venture Creation Program? Is Young Enterprise a Venture Creation Program? A vexing issue indeed. Lots of emails were sent back and forth between people in Sweden, UK, Finland and USA on this issue.

I have spent 7 years now thinking about these semantic and typological issues. My first attemt to categorize different types of entrepreneurial education was in 2013 in my licentiate thesis (you can download it under the Resources tab). There I had a five-pronged typology, which has almost survived to present day:

  1. Not action-based entrepreneurial education
  2. The Creation approach
  3. The Value Creation approach
  4. The Venture Creation approach
  5. The Sustainable Venture Creation approach

This classification survived more or less unaltered all the way until 2018 when I wrote my conference paper to the 3E conference in Enschede, Netherlands. There I did a renewed attempt at classifying entrepreneurial education into this typology:

  1. Traditional entrepreneurial education (TEE)
  2. Creation-based entrepreneurial education (CEE)
  3. Value creation-based entrepreneurial education (VaCEE)
  4. Venture creation-based entrepreneurial education (VeCEE)
  5. Sustainable venture creation-based entrepreneurial education (SVEE)

Very similar to the 2013 version thus. And in our JSBM article we included a similar classification, skipping step 1, thus becoming:

  1. Creation activities
  2. Value creation activities
  3. Venture creation activities
  4. Sustainable venture development activities

But there was a vexing problem here. We call our program at Chalmers a VCP, since way back in 2011, and in numerous articles that are published and thus “freezed” in their form. But in the above classifications, VCPs end up as Sustainable Venture Creation approach / program / activities. It did not match. Neither in my head nor on the VCP List website.

Finally, towards the end of 2018, my old hosting supplier for the VCP List website said “Now we are throwing away this crappy old site from 2010, its technical end-of-life has been reached”. So I had to do something. After a lot of discussions and anguish within our research team, we ended up with the following classification typology:

  1. Traditional Pedagogy (TP)
  2. Idea and Artifact Creation Pedagogy (IACP)
  3. Value Creation Pedagogy (VaCP)
  4. Mini-Venture Creation Programs / Pedagogy (mini-VeCP)
  5. Full-Venture Creation Programs (full-VeCP) – since they always require a program due to complexity

This classification will be used in a paper I currently have in review in a scholarly journal, assuming that it survives peer review and my own thought processes. And I think it solves some problems. Based on this classification, Team Academy, Young Enterprise and other approaches are classified as mini-VCPs (using VCP as meaning Venture Creation Programs). Programs such as the Chalmers program are classified as full-VCPs. The differentiating factor is then whether the intention is to continue the operation of the venture after graduation or not. In the case of Team Academy and Young Enterprise, it is quite clear that the intention is to liquidate the venture towards the end of the education (I’ve checked this extensively). And in the Chalmers case (and other similar programs, see full-VCP list), the opposite situation is very clearly articulated. If the venture is successful and if one or more of the students want(s) to continue working with it, there is a clear process in place to facilitate further development of the venture after graduation. And the possibility to continue after graduation is a real possibility that boosts student motivation considerably. This difference is so significant that I think it merits two different levels in a classification / typology scheme.

I have now used this classification to build the new VCP List website. Value Creation Pedagogy is labeled VCP2 (it could have been VaCP though, and I might even switch to that later on). And Venture Creation Programs are labeled VCP1 – encompassing both mini-VCPs and full-VCPs. So finally, this meant that I could redesign the website so that it caters to both of the two main areas where we do research – Value Creation Pedagogy and Venture Creation Programs (mainly full-VCPs then). It is thus a much needed expansion of the website, and a more updated presentation of what our research is about.

On the new VCP List, the ambition is to list not only full-Venture Creation Programs, but also mini-Venture Creation Programs and Value Creation Pedagogy examples. I have not yet figured out how to manage this much bigger task of listing and classifying different cases of entrepreneurial education. And I have not yet decided whether or not we will describe IACP examples.

I cannot make up my mind about IACP. The effects are weak from this type of intervention (see our recent JSBM article). And definitions are fuzzy and contested. But on the other hand, it offers an easy way to get started by brainstorming ideas in the classroom. Still, I think that it is perhaps more interesting to brainstorm ideas if there is a clear intention already from the start to try to create something of value for an external person. Not just sit and talk in the classroom. That prospect of getting “real” changes the entire experience, to the better in my view. Future will tell what will happen with this issue.

But now the new website is finally up. With a fresh WordPress template too. And I am open for suggestions from people who want to contribute with case descriptions of VCP1 (both mini and full approaches) as well as of VCP2. There is no workflow for it yet, so just drop me a line and we’ll figure something out.

Enjoy!

 

Intention to incorporate

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Our definition of venture creation programs includes not just learning through the venture, but that the learners that are venture creating have the intention to incorporate.  This emphasis aims to address the identity constrution process that occurs while enacting entrepreneurship.  Learning through creating a new venture includes constructing a future self – the future identity of the entrepreneurial individual in the real venture.  This helps to integrate the individual and team’s reasoning and learning around current issues and the influence, consequence and impact of decisions taken in the present.  Intention to incorporate, including pre-emptive framing of collaboration agreements, customer contracts, etc. build entrepreneurial agency in the venture creation process – a factor lacking in many project-based or simluation-based educations.

A venture as a key learning vessel

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Entrepreneurship is very often a journey through the unknown, sometimes even exploring the currently unknowable.  Learning to act within uncertainty is challenging to simluate.  VCPs (venture creation programs) use the process of creating the venture as the key learning vessel in order to emerse the learners (students) in the unknown, the uncertainty of the entrepreneurial process.  Of course, to facilitate learning, students/learners are given support and guidance in various aspects of the venture creation: access to theories and practices on creating a new venture; access to faculty and practioners that can act as critical sounding boards throughout the process; a ‘semi-safe’ space that accepts failure and iteration, etc.  But the main intention is that the process is ‘real’ – decisions taken have consequences, customers have demands and expectations, resources are limited.

Matching ideas with entrepreneurial people

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Many full-VCPs act as match-makers between inventors and entreprenurial students. It can be a researcher working at the university who has made a discovery, but who lacks the time and interest to commercialize the invention. It can be a corporation whose R&D department has developed technology with applications that lie outside the core focus of their existing business. It can be an individual inventor who has more ideas than time, and who wants someone else to try and take an invention to the market. A full-VCP can facilitate the match-making between these stakeholders, forming ventures with both inventors and students as co-founders and shareholders of a future start-up.

Turning researchers into entrepreneurs is normally a quite bad idea

There is a common but largely flawed logic among entrepreneurial universities that researchers should be transformed into entrepreneurs. In theory, it might sound like a great idea. In practice, a successful researcher often makes a really bad entrepreneur. Scholars are trained into problematizing, scrutinizing, decomposing problems into its smallest parts, and writing about it in very complex ways that very few understand. Entrepreneurs rather need to do the opposite – opportunity orientation, trying to see what works rather than what is problematic and trying to create a whole entity that becomes valuable to common people. A better idea is then to connect really good researchers and their best ideas with really entrepreneurial young students who are willing to give untested ideas a chance. In research, entrepreneurs who take care of someone else’s baby idea are sometimes called “surrogate entrepreneurs”. Many full-VCPs are based on a surrogate entrepreneurship model.

Full-VCPs can deliver a steady stream of innovative successful start-ups

A recent study on 170 incubated ventures in Sweden conducted by professor Mats Lundqvist at Chalmers University of Technology shows just how good of an idea it is to match inventors with entrepreneurial “surrogate” students. In a comparison between 21 different Swedish incubators, those who employed this way of working significantly outperformed those who did not. The study was published in 2014 by the top ranked scholarly journal Technovation. Its title is “The Importance of Surrogate Entrepreneurship for Incubated Swedish Technology Ventures”. Check it out!

This is a venture creation program

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hand nurturing and watering young baby plants growing in germination sequence on fertile soil with natural green background

At a venture creation program (VCP1), students are expected to start a real-life business venture as formal part of their studies. Common characteristics of these programs are that the students are expected to interact with real-life potential customers and partners, that they are expected to manage real-life resources such as money, products, sales materials and sometimes even staff. There are two different types of venture creation programs – mini-venture creation programs and full-venture creation programs.

Mini-venture creation programs (mini-VCPs)

A mini-venture is a venture that already from the start is planned to be terminated towards the end of the education program. Setting up and then liquidating the venture is done only as a means towards learning. Even if the venture would be successful on the market, it is nevertheless terminated after the program has ended. The most common mini-VCP is offered by the Junior Achievement / Young Enterprise organizations. More than 10 million students are reached by their mini-venture activities every year, delivered by around 450.000 staff in 100 countries.

Full-venture creation programs (full-VCPs)

A full-venture is a venture that is started with an intention to incorporate it if the students become successful in their attempt to start a venture. The fact that students will end up employing themselves if successful means that a full-VCP is always the last step in an educational journey. Otherwise it would be irresponsible from the part of the teacher. The most common full-venture creation programs are found on master and MBA level university education. Those students that succeed in starting a real-life venture then end up employing themselves as co-founders and CEO / COO / CTO of the new venture.

The HiTEC program, NC State University, NC USA

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Since 1995, the High Technology Entrepreneurship and Commercialization Program (HiTEC) has been teaching scientists, engineers and managers how to translate science and technology into goods and services. Using the HiTEC Algorithm, a process developed from a National Science Foundation/Kenan Institute research grant, HiTEC has been building new high-tech, high growth companies while training the entrepreneurs of tomorrow.

In academia, our process and pedagogy have been benchmarked and exported to the UK, Portugal, Slovenia, South Korea, South Africa as well as Brown, Ohio State and Cal Poly universities in the U.S. In the business world, HiTEC is credited with supporting the formation of over 50% of the companies arising from North Carolina State University (NCSU).

Aims and Methods
Our goal is to develop the next generation of entrepreneurs while building the high growth companies of tomorrow. MBAs are teamed with graduate science and engineering students to build and launch – whenever possible – real high growth, technology-based ventures. Each team is provided a portfolio of available IP and has at least two outside business advisors or “Executives-in-Residence,” including serial entrepreneurs, CEOs, lawyers, accountants, and consultants.
The mapped process at the heart of the HiTEC experience is called the ‘Algorithm.’ This is the tool that separates HiTEC from other High-Tech Entrepreneurship courses. The Algorithm provides a process based framework for building viable startup companies from technological innovations. Issues that are both knowable and discerning at each phase in the development cycle are revealed and addressed in a rational manner. This detailed methodology permits the inexperienced entrepreneur to develop a compelling business case for his/her technology.

Background
In 1994, Angus Kingon, a world-class Materials Scientist from the College of Engineering, and Steve Markham, a serial entrepreneur from the Poole College of Management, won almost a million dollars in grants from the National Science Foundation and the Kenan Institute of Technology, Science and Engineering to study technology commercialization and develop tools to teach scientists and engineers how to commercialize their discoveries.

The HiTEC Program began teaching courses based on their research in 1995 to graduate students from both colleges. It was apparent from the beginning that the best way to develop the knowledge, skills and abilities needed to be successful, was to provide an intense experiential learning opportunity for the students. The resulting pedagogy offers not only a rich context to their studies, but also provides the potential to participate in a real high growth startup company.

Key Partners
HiTEC would not be possible without support from both the College of Engineering and the Poole College of Management. The intellectual property used in the course comes from the offices of technology transfer at NC State University, Eastern Carolina University, Universities of North Carolina at Charlotte and Chapel Hill. Over the years, we have also used IP from more than a dozen local R&D facilities located in the Research Triangle Park and beyond.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we would not be able to deliver the quality educational experience and maintain the expectations of continuing success without our Executives-in-Residence. Since 1995, more than 80 serial entrepreneurs, service providers and professionals have volunteered thousands of hours to help mentor the HiTEC teams.

Achievements
Since its inception, the TEC Program has taught over 450 graduate students, been primarily responsible for the creation of new high tech ventures and lines of business employing over 400 people, and assisted more than forty companies that have attracted over $200,000,000 in capital.
The HiTEC program is regularly benchmarked as a leader in technology commercialization education by universities around the world. Our international efforts were recognized by the Roundtable on Entrepreneurship Education at Stanford when they bestowed the 2006 Price Foundation award on us for our work in Portugal.

Key Challenges
We have three areas of ongoing challenges. First, though we have an extensive network of executives and service providers in the local entrepreneurial community, finding seasoned leaders for the new ventures we generate every year is a daunting task. Second, seed stage funding remains elusive. Finally, our department within the College of Management has undergone several changes over the past 5 years and the result has left us fewer faculty and we are therefore behind in research output.

Funding
All our activities are self-funded. We share in the royalties from one of the companies we launched. The remaining resources we have are the result of a combination of grants and gifts. The faculty have also shared consulting fees with the HiTEC program.

Chalmers School of Entrepreneurship

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A two-year master program started in 1997 by two faculty members, Chalmers School of Entrepreneurship (CSE) today has four different tracks – technology, bioscience, corporate and intellectual property – accepting a total of around 50 students each year. The program has a strong venture creation track record with around 80 ventures still up and running, employing some 500 people and with a total annual turnover of €60m. A key success factor has been the establishment of a separate legal entity named Encubator, handling idea providers, equity issues and business coaching, and acting as a holding company for incorporated ventures. Key challenges have been financial sustainability and development of entrepreneurial faculty.

Aims and methods
The aim of the program is to develop entrepreneurial individuals prepared for sustainable business development in the knowledge economy. The program utilizes an action-based pedagogy where innovation and entrepreneurship is experienced hands-on and not only taught in classrooms. The education combines a distinguished academic Master’s program with real-life innovation management and venture creation of technology and bioscience innovations. The program is an integrated part of Chalmers’ strategy of being an entrepreneurial university . In 2009 an international peer review commissioned by the Swedish government gave the program the highest ranking in Sweden. Teams of two or three students are matched with a scientist or innovator to take forward a business idea into a business. At the end of the process, business ideas have the potential to be incorporated, with both students and the scientist/innovator taking ownership through shares in the newly formed business.

Background
In 1995, Mats Lundqvist and Sören Sjölander, at the department of innovation management at Chalmers, initiated development of an entrepreneurship masters program based on reflection that there was a human resource gap between university research and the marketplace. This gap could be filled by individuals willing to take viable ideas, develop business strategies and take them to the market. The program was launched in January 1997 as a one year masters-level program. In 2001, substantial developmental steps were taken, such as opening the program to students outside of Chalmers and setting up a separate legal entity called “Encubator”, gradually taking over the responsibility for many of the interactions with the outside market and society. In 2007, the program became a two year international master’s program in line with the Bologna process.
Key partners

The primary partner is Encubator, an integrated incubator that works in synergy with the program, but with a business prioritization. Encubator was created and co-founded by Chalmersinvest, a wholly owned daughter company of the Chalmers Foundation, providing seed-investment. Public actors such as Västra Götalandsregionen, Business Region Göteborg and Vinnova are key partners external to the university environment. University of Gothenburg has been an important collaborator in facilitating an interdisciplinary setting. The program also builds upon a large network of external business actors and organizations, as well as program and university alumni, to contribute content, coaching and other resources to the action-based pedagogy.

Achievements
Since its establishment in 1997, CSE has educated around 300 students. Around 50 ventures are still up and running, having been incorporated as a result of the student venture projects. These ventures have a total market value today of around €50m with an annual turnover of around €35m. The most successful ventures so far are Vehco, Avinode and Oxeon, employing around 250 people. Vehco supplies mobile IT for the transportation sector. Avinode is a global aviation broker for private jets. Oxeon is an advanced materials company. CSE has a very active alumni network where around 100 people meet every year at a conference focusing on various kinds of new value creation.

Key challenges
The main challenge has always been about financing the program. Most financial resources have been in the form of project funding, although there has been a minor endowment given to the school. Another key challenge has been to develop entrepreneurial faculty. The career paths for academics simultaneously engaging in action learning and research are challenging. A key challenge has also been the inability of traditional incentive structures and organizational leadership to adapt.

Funding
CSE receives funding for each enrolled student. However, this amount does not cover the cost of running the program and there is a need for additional funding from other sources. Additional funding has come from various sources. Funding organizations have included the public actors Västra Götalandsregionen, Business Region Göteborg and Högskoleverket. Each student ventures receives €20.000 each, majority of which requires matching with private money. This money is supplied by public venture capital entities.

Contact
Mats Lundqvist, program director
mats.lundqvist@chalmers.se
Website: www.entrepreneur.chalmers.se

Value creation examples

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