A pioneer in entrepreneurship education

Text: Kreetta Haaslahti Photos: Julia Hannula

Satakunta has extensive merits as a pioneer in entrepreneurship education in Finland. 

The enterprise accelerator of the University of Applied Sciences and the entrepreneurship class at Pori Lyceum's secondary school were established here first, not forgetting the creation of the province-wide strategy of entrepreneurship education. One of the cross-provincial entrepreneurship centres was established in Satakunta in 2005 – the same year that entrepreneurial professorship was introduced at the Pori unit of the Turku School of Economics. To top everything, Ulvila High School has been making entrepreneurship a more integral part of its curriculum for years.

The common enterprise accelerator enables continuous entrepreneurship education from elementary and high schools to vocational schools and colleges.

The important pioneering work in terms of entrepreneurship education continues because, as we speak, the ALL IN project is creating a new enterprise accelerator in Satakunta. This is a collective effort of different levels of education, enabling the continuance of entrepreneurship education from elementary and high schools to vocational schools and colleges. This form of collaboration is unique in Finland and – what’s more, is the first of its kind.

The driving force behind the ALL IN project is SAMK, supported by Diaconia University of Applied Sciences, the Pori unit of the University of Turku and, representing the upper secondary level, Sataedu and WinNova. The joint enterprise accelerator derives from each educational institute's strengths. 
– SAMK's enterprise accelerator and mentoring model, Diak's social entrepreneurship approach and the research and experience base of the Turku School of Economics will be, thanks to the project, within the reach of each student on the upper secondary level and higher education in Satakunta, as per the vision of Pia Marjanen, the project manager of the ALL IN project.

With the help of ALL IN, entrepreneurial activities are rooted into all educational institutions while creating a shared mentor network for colleges and vocational schools. 
– Finland needs entrepreneurial people who start companies and employ entrepreneurial people like themselves, comments Marjanen on the motives of ALL IN.

SAMK's accelerator is already 20 years old

The enterprise accelerator of the Satakunta University of Applied Sciences has operated successfully for nearly 20 years. Under its wing, over 270 companies have been founded, with over 80% of them still in existence three years after establishment. The enterprise accelerator is a pedagogic approach that enables students to take advantage of a supported avenue to being an entrepreneur during their studies. 
– In the accelerator program, developing a business idea, working as an entrepreneur and developing the company become components of studying, says Cimmo Nurmi, vice president of SAMK.

“The main objective of entrepreneurial studies is to teach all students entrepreneurial ways of operating”.

Since 2013, all of SAMK's basic degrees have included common study modules on entrepreneurship that account for five credit units. The most important objective, however, has nothing to do with the number of established companies.
- The main objective of entrepreneurial studies is to teach all students entrepreneurial ways of operating, Nurmi emphasises.

Mentoring and social impact

At SAMK, the operations of the enterprise accelerator have been based on a multi-professional mentor network that has provided students in each field with the best possible guidance on refining their own ideas.

“The enterprise accelerator can give youth who are at risk of social exclusion an interesting way to continue their studies and retain a place in society”.

With ALL IN, Nurmi hopes that the positive impact of the accelerator activities and the mentoring model will also be seen at vocational institutions. 
– The enterprise accelerator activities exude great potential for students who are not interested in sitting in a classroom, says Cimmo Nurmi and refers to the youth who drop out of school due to lack of motivation and who will therefore be at risk of social exclusion. 
– For youth like these, enterprise accelerators may offer an interesting way to continue studying and remain active in society, he ponders.

Also read the story of Fysioterapia Voluntas, whose path began at SAMK's enterprise accelerator and the news of Joni Jokela, who combines studying and entrepreneurship >>