Blog: Five ways academics are entrepreneurial in their own right

22 May 2024
Academics require a unique set of skills and characteristics that are akin to the definition of entrepreneurship. - Stephen Flint, Director of Investment, Digital Technologies & Engineering

Our media stories often feature business leaders and startup stars, while our academics focus on publication and aren’t often acknowledged for their entrepreneurial mindset.  

At UniServices, we know academics require a unique set of skills and characteristics that are akin to the definition of entrepreneurship - the process of creating, developing, and managing a new business venture with the aim of generating profits or creating value.

Here are five reasons why:

Spirit of innovation  
Through their research and scholarly pursuits, members of academia push the boundaries of knowledge and explore new ideas. They have a spirit of innovation that we more often recognise in business and entrepreneurship. Like successful entrepreneurs, academics must adapt, continuously innovate, and remain agile in their market. Whether it's developing groundbreaking technologies or pioneering new theories, academics push the limits of what is possible.

Problem solving expertise  
Academics are trained problem solvers. In their quest for knowledge, they encounter complex problems and challenges on a regular basis. A problem-solving mindset is essential for entrepreneurship, where unforeseen obstacles are part of the journey. Academics possess the analytical skills and critical thinking abilities needed to identify problems, devise creative solutions, and navigate the uncertainties of entrepreneurship.

Resourcefulness and adaptability  
Academics need to find funding sources to undertake and grow their research teams, whether that be through research grants or industry funding.  Access to significant funding streams are extremely competitive.  Generally, research funding is time constrained, and they need to continuously seek and apply for funding for further research activities.  Consequently, academics are no strangers to working with limited resources. Research projects often require them to be resourceful and find creative ways to achieve their goals within budget constraints. This resourcefulness translates seamlessly into entrepreneurship, where spinouts and startups often operate with limited funding and must make the most out of available resources. Academics also demonstrate a remarkable ability to adapt to new situations and pivot their research focus, when necessary, traits that are invaluable for entrepreneurs navigating the ever-changing business landscape.

Collaboration and networking  
Collaboration is ingrained in the academic culture. We see academics across the University collaborate with colleagues, students, and professionals from diverse backgrounds to advance their research goals and solve problems together. We know successful collaboration is essential for entrepreneurship, where building a strong network of mentors, advisors, and partners is essential for success. Forging meaningful connections and leveraging networks to access valuable resources, funding opportunities, and expertise to support their endeavours is essential in business and in research pursuits.

Impact-driven mindset  
Above all, academics are driven by a desire to make a positive impact on the world. Whether it's through their research findings, teaching efforts, or community engagement initiatives, we see people from across the University who are motivated by their curiosity and a sense of purpose larger than themselves. This impact-driven mindset is at the heart of entrepreneurship, where successful ventures are built on a foundation of addressing real-world problems and meeting the needs of end-users and society at large. Academics bring a sense of purpose and social responsibility to their entrepreneurial pursuits, striving to create meaningful change.  
At UniServices we are motivated by the opportunities that come from connecting researchers, industry, investors, and government - bringing together people with unique blends of skills, characteristics, and values to help them solve real-world problems.  

The researchers and academics we work with across the University bring their problem-solving expertise, resourcefulness, and impact-driven mindset, to the challenges of taking their ideas and solutions to the market and grow.   

As we continue to recognise and celebrate the entrepreneurial contributions of academics, we gain a deeper appreciation for the diverse ways in which they help shape our world and drive positive change through their entrepreneurial endeavours. 

Check out some of our case studies below.