Munich Personal RePEc Archive

University Students and Entrepreneurship. Some insights from a population-based survey

Ferrante, Francesco and Federici, Daniela and Parisi, Valentino (2017): University Students and Entrepreneurship. Some insights from a population-based survey.

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Abstract

Start-ups founded by university students and graduates play a substantial role in bringing new knowledge to the market and in employment creation; a role that appears to be even more important than the one played by the typical technology transfer activities carried out by universities, i.e. patenting and licensing activities, or spin-offs founded by academic staff. Indeed, robust empirical evidence suggests that entrepreneurs’ education is a good predictor of firms’ performance. Unfortunately, data show that the share of Italian entrepreneurs with tertiary educations is quite small, and this is especially the case of the younger generation. In this paper, we use a population-based approach to explore entrepreneurship among 61,115 graduates, alumni of the 64 Italian universities that belong to the AlmaLaurea consortium, in the second half of 2014, at the time when they completed their academic experience. We detect various levels of engagement and intentions to be involved in entrepreneurship, and we assess which factors appear to weigh more in a positive or negative manner. The bad news is that also our analysis finds that the share of Italian graduates who have started a business after their enrolment at university (1.3%) or who have taken concrete actions to start a business (4.5%) is quite small. The good news is that the number of intentional, i.e. potential highly educated, entrepreneurs among university students is much larger (at least 23%). On the basis of our results, we argue that the provision by universities of entrepreneurial education and training, internships, and ICT skills can be effective tools with which to cultivate entrepreneurial attitudes and skills, thereby fostering entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship among university graduates and enhancing their employability.

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