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University support for rural start-ups

The Erasmus+ ENDORSE research project, which IMC Krems is participating in, aims to identify the role that higher education institutions could play in the establishment of regional businesses, as well as highlighting ways to stop the exodus of skilled workers.

[Translate to Englisch:] Das IMC Krems lud Studierende, Lehrende, politische Entscheidungsträger*innen und lokale Unternehmer*innen zu einem Round Table, bei dem die Akteure ihre Ansichten über aktuelle Chancen und Herausforderungen im lokalen Geschäftsumfeld diskutierten.

IMC Krems invited students, lecturers, political decision-makers and local entrepreneurs to a round table discussion where they shared their views on the current opportunities and challenges facing the local business environment.
The focus was on the commercial plans of students and graduates in the areas where universities are based. The first event took place in Östersund (Sweden) in November 2022. This was followed by discussion rounds in Krems (Austria), Lodz (Poland) and Ventspils (Latvia). The project team gained detailed insights into the opportunities and challenges that university students and graduates have to address when it comes to setting up their own companies in more rural and remote areas. 

What role do universities and other higher education institutions play?

The main objective of the events was to pinpoint the role of the participating universities in supporting local entrepreneurs and look at ways in which they can play a more influential part in local and regional development. In addition to debates on the local infrastructure and incentives required to boost the attractiveness of remote areas for businesspeople, the participants emphasised the need for early-stage business skills training (at secondary school level) with a view to removing some of the personal barriers (such as risk aversion and a lack of information) that prospective entrepreneurs have to overcome. 

Information on entrepreneurship needed at an early stage

The participants also agreed that education concepts with a strong practical element, which are designed to support school students aiming to set up their own businesses throughout the start-up process – from the initial idea through to registering the company – would be an effective incentive for young entrepreneurs. 
Local and regional business support agencies and political decision-makers believe that closer collaboration with universities and other higher education institutions is an important tool for enhancing the reach and transparency of various projects and funding programmes that target entrepreneurs.

Involving local partners the key to success

“The round table events and ongoing discussions with students, researchers, local businesspeople, political decision-makers and funding bodies are decisive for the success of the project. Without their support, the project findings wouldn’t amount to much more than the kind of information otherwise found in a textbook. What we need in order to have a measurable impact on local and regional development is a practical approach to promoting entrepreneurship among young people – in other words, practice-driven education and policies. Universities and other higher education institutions have a vital part to play, by facilitating not only knowledge transfer but also collaboration between the various stakeholders,” explained project head Alina Schoenberg.
The next step for the project participants is to analyse the findings before going on to develop course contents and policy concepts, with a view to strengthening their universities’ capabilities as regional innovation centres.


For the Erasmus+ ENDORSE (Enhancing development of entrepreneurial strategies at university locations affected by brain drain) project, which is scheduled to run from 2022 to 2025, IMC Krems is cooperating with Mid Sweden University, Hochschule Niederrhein University of Applied Sciences in Germany, Poland’s Uniwersytet Lodzki, Panteion University in Greece and Ventspils University of Applied Sciences in Latvia. The aim is to find solutions to the brain drain in areas where higher education institutions are located. 
“Brain drain” is the term given to the movement of skilled workers, highly qualified professionals, engineers, artists, graduates, entrepreneurs, scientists and other specialists from one region to another.

More information: Alina Schoenberg, Projektleiterin für ENDORSE, Studiengangsleiterin am IMC Krems