Author: Dr. Khalid Iqbal*

The project has been divided into ten Work Packages (WPs), titled ‘Kick-Off and Self-Assessment’, ‘Strategic Action Planning’, ‘Establishing of FabLabs in Pakistan’, ‘Development of Locally Relevant Training and Teaching Material Focused on Developing Entrepreneurial Skills in Students’, ‘Professionalizing Entrepreneurial Coaching ‘, ‘Training and Certifying Entrepreneurial Coaches in Pakistan (Train-the-Trainer)’, ‘Development of a National TAKE-UP Network’, ‘Dissemination, Visibility and Exploitation’, ‘Quality Management’ and ‘Project Management.

‘Kick-Off and Self-Assessment’ comprises kickoff activities, a couple of meetings, self-assessment, and feedback, whereas ‘Strategic Action Planning’ includes exposure to entrepreneurial universities and business incubators in the EU for participation in workshops reflecting and discussing best practices, development of SAP and giving feedback on interests for internship. Further, ‘Establishing of FabLabs’ consists of a visit to FabLabs in EU universities, preparation, installation of equipment, and startup of FabLabs in the partner universities, while ‘Development of Locally Relevant Training and Teaching Material’ involves the development of teaching/training material for different target groups involved in sensitizing, motivating, developing, and mentoring entrepreneurial ideas from within and outside universities, Digital transformation of generated material.

Moreover, ‘Professionalizing Entrepreneurial Coaching’ covers analyzing the current situation of entrepreneurial coaches in Pakistan, developing an evidence-based guideline for entrepreneurship coaching (both general and domain-specific) by participation in workshops, taking charge of the development of the local community-related guideline by being experts in one of the workshops and allocating space and material for the workshops concerning the local-community-related guideline.

Development of training plans and implement a trainee scouting, implement pilot capacity building training, conducting micro-coaching and an internal workshop for supervision and revision, creating a process for the TAKE-UP-certification for entrepreneurship coaches and train the trainers constitutes ‘Training and Certifying Entrepreneurial Coaches in Pakistan (Train-the-Trainer)’, whereas ‘Development of a National TAKE-UP Network’ contains the establishment of the TAKE-UP network, building the network identity and public presence, organizing training workshops for non-partner universities, national TAKE-UP conferences to disseminate knowledge/round table with stakeholders and exchange with potential international partners and joint publication on best practices to transform Pakistani universities into entrepreneurial universities.

Moreover, developing a dissemination plan and project identity expression and national and international exposure of the project computes ‘Dissemination, Visibility and Exploitation’ while setting up a quality board, developing feedback mechanisms, and designing a contingency plan compasses ‘Quality Management.

In addition, ‘Project Management’ encircles ensuring sustainable project management and establishing a mechanism of regular reporting by sending at least one representative to join the management board, members of the management board are in charge to participate in video conferences and support the interactive use of the project management tool by updating contents and checking deadlines.

At the University of Gujrat, the Business Incubation Center (BIC) is carrying out the project in collaboration with the Office of Research, Innovation, and Commercialization (ORIC) and faculty members of the Department of Management Sciences, Department of Biochemistry, and the Department of Chemical Engineering.

After a 360° assessment of the entrepreneurial culture and development of strategic action plans at the University of Gujrat, training content on “International Entrepreneurial Course 101” has already been developed.

The course comprises four modules in 13 sessions. The modules include (1) Problem Solution Fit, covering four sessions on Starting a Start-up, Networking and Design Thinking, Getting your Creative Juices Flowing, and Building your Team and a Prototype; (2) Product Market Fit, covering four sessions on Analyzing the Market, Facing the Market, Tending to your Finances and Funding your Idea; (3) Intellectual Property, covering two sessions on Introduction to Intellectual Property and Domains of Intellectual Property; and (4) Into Action, covering three sessions on Talking Business, Pitch Perfect and Next steps – Growing your Business.

This course has been offered twice to the students of the University of Gujrat. The course has been conducted jointly by the staff of Saarland University, Germany, and the University of Gujrat. The second course is in progress these days in two sections with 20 students from various departments in each group.

More than 300 students continued the course out of the 600 plus initially registered when the course was offered first. More than 50 students qualified successfully. Certificates were distributed among the successful participants of the course. Owing to COVID-19 during the first course, interaction with the participants was made through Pakistan-Moodle Program, MS Team, WhatsApp Group, and emails. On the other hand, the second course is being completed through the Pakistan-Moodle Program-cum-physical interaction.

The course includes vigorous exercises and activities to grab the interest of the students. The purpose of offering this four-month course was to develop an entrepreneurial mindset among the participants, train the students on how to develop business ideas, validate business models developed by the participants followed by the financial modelling of the business idea/plan, and finally the training to execute the business plans.

The next work package of the train-the-trainer program of the project for improving the skill set of entrepreneurial coaches and creating a multiplier effect has also been initiated, which will be followed by the establishment of a TAKE-UP network to share project results and increase the capacity of non-partner institutions.

*The writer works as Deputy Manager (R&D) in the Office of Research, Innovation, and Commercialization (ORIC) of the University of Gujrat, Pakistan.

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