Leveraging institute of technology incubation centres in the teaching of innovation: a case study
Costello, Gabriel J.
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The overriding purpose of this on-going work is to contribute to the debate on the best pedagogical approach to developing undergraduate Mechanical Engineering skills to meet the requirements of contemporary complex working environments. The particular focus of this study is to develop the students’ appreciation of entrepreneurship and the development of a new venture. Enterprise Ireland has funded business incubation centres on college campuses across Ireland in order to provide a supportive environment for start-up companies and two centres have been located in the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT). The paper provides an example of collaboration between the Incubation Centre managers and a lecturer in GMIT in the teaching of innovation modules to final year students. The methodology of the paper involved a structured questionnaire followed by an interview with the management of the Innovation Hubs (the name given to the GMIT incubation centres). Working directly with the Innovation Hubs is a novel pedagogical approach that fosters entrepreneurial thinking and behaviour among the students. Furthermore key stakeholders (in this case the managers and staff of the Innovation Hubs) have engaged in the learning process. Both managers have been very supportive of the process as it meets their remit to involve the Innovation Hubs with the GMIT campus. The response to the structured questionnaire was positive but also provided suggestions for improving the process. Furthermore, the project supports a targeted action of the Campus Entrepreneurship Enterprise Network program, a partnership between a number of Institutes of Technology and Universities in Ireland.
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