The ‘entrepreneurial university’ is a concept which drives self-development and innovation in higher education institutions. Higher education faces numerous challenges. Globally, there are issues of mobility, massification, financing, technology, competition and politics which create a more unpredictable operating environment. Being entrepreneurial or innovative as an organisation is a response to these challenges and as a consequence we are seeing the emergence of new models and approaches to higher education management and delivery.

HEInnovate has been designed to help higher education institutions on their pathway to change. It is a free online self-assessment tool and guides institutions through a range of approaches to foster their entrepreneurial activities. Extensive training and support materials, including practical case studies, are available to use.

Technopolis Group holds a contract with the European Commission for the design, development, support and maintenance of HEInnovate (2011-present) and delivers workshops and presentations on its use and implementation.

Evolving from a tool for discussion and debate to action-oriented outcomes

When HEInnovate ( was launched by the European Commission and the OECD in 2013, its role was primarily seen as a way to start opening up discussion and debate on the entrepreneurial and innovative nature of HEIs in Europe.

The take-up and use of HEInnovate show its wide appeal and its flexibility. It is being used by Higher Education Institutions across the globe and has been instrumental in some of the changes in models and development. Better understanding, supported by this self-assessment tool, has turned out to stimulate not only debate but also concrete activities.

HEInnovate and OECD country reviews

The OECD in cooperation with the European Commission have been launching country reviews using HEInnovate as a framework for assessment. The studies that aim to support entrepreneurship and innovation in higher education combine international peer review with visits, surveys and workshops. Experts from Technopolis Group have contributed to reviews in Bulgaria, Hungary, Ireland, Poland and the Netherlands.

Taking action using HEInnovate

In Ireland, HEInnovate has been used as a tool to help in the merger process of three Institutes of Technology bidding to become a Technological University. As part of the engagement plan of the new Technological University, using HEInnovate was a useful way for the Institutions to work together to create a new shared vision.

In Finland, at the Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT), HEInnovate has been used to guide the process of strategy development and to define the new action plan for entrepreneurship. HEInnovate was used as a common reference framework for discussion and, through the use of workshops, staff were able to come up with action points for the plan.

HEI_Hack! Porto Polytechnic gathered 49 students from each of the seven faculties to use HEInnovate during a 24-hour Hackathon. Armed with the selfassessment tool, a coach and a Business Model Canvas, students were tasked to come up with one “quick win” idea or decision that the President could implement. The President gave the go-ahead for all three of the new ideas created, including a new scheme for integrating international students into campus life.

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