NEOMA Business School

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Entrepreneurs Across Borders

Entrepreneurs Across Borders is an international exchange system inviting student entrepreneurs to spend six months abroad in one of the university incubators that belong to the worldwide network.

Call to Action:

Traditionally, the students in our incubators have to make a choice at the time of their international academic exchange. If the exchange is obligatory, the company creation project is put on hold or even abandoned. If the exchange is not a mandatory component of the curriculum, the student will have to give up either the project or the international experience.

Our Entrepreneurs Across Borders program not only enables these student entrepreneurs to continue to develop their project while undertaking a foreign exchange trip, but also substantially increases their born-global perspective. In addition, incubated students who undertake their exchange in the incubator of a partner university will benefit from the following opportunities:

  • They will discover best local entrepreneurial practice in a multicultural environment, with coaches, mentors, and experts from the partner university, giving them a new perspective on their own project.
  • They will create startups that are international from the outset, or “born global,” enabling them to develop ambitious projects that are not necessarily linked to their country of origin.
  • They will develop and test their startup project and identify local business partners and promising future markets, enabling them to discover markets in a new country, with its own culture and business practices.
  • They will discuss their projects, motives, and strategy with local entrepreneurs, which will help them develop an international entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Innovation Description:

In traditional academic exchanges, students from different universities worldwide continue their studies in the classrooms of a partner university. In the Entrepreneurs Across Borders exchange program, student entrepreneurs from different universities all over the world will continue developing their projects in a partner university’s business incubator.

The scheme is indeed an exchange in the sense that, while NEOMA Business School sends its student entrepreneurs to a partner university that is a member of the program, the other universities will send their student entrepreneurs to our incubator. This international approach will give the scheme greater impact. The program provides a balanced mix of project support, courses, and collaborative activities, with the following allocations per project area:

  • 55 percent—Entrepreneurial Project: Students will become full members of host incubators, benefiting from the entire incubation program, including coaching, workshops, networking sessions, pitch sessions, and so on. They will share their own experience with other student entrepreneurs and discover other ways to develop their business.
  • 30 percent—Coursework: Students will participate fully in the university’s academic life by participating in properly assessed entrepreneurship courses.
  • 15 percent—Collaborative Activities: Students will actively participate in the host incubator’s operations by organizing activities and negotiating deals for the whole incubator community, not just for their own project. These activities develop a virtuous circle for the whole entrepreneurial community and teach students to move forward by working together.

Partner universities include: Fundação Getulio Vargas (Brazil), University of California, Berkeley (United States), United Arab Emirates University (United Arab Emirates), Hong Kong Baptist University (China), and Deakin University (Australia). 

Innovation Impact:

The Entrepreneurs Across Borders program is expected to make its main impact on incubator project quality: as the students present their ideas to students, professors, and coaches in other countries, their projects should become more ambitious and international, and better prepared.

We expect a second impact on the student entrepreneurs’ frame of mind: since they will discover other ways of acting or thinking, the students will become more open-minded and able to think “out of the box.”

We expect a third impact on the project teams themselves. Many project teams are initially incomplete, or evolve constantly throughout the project’s life. This program, bringing together students from different countries, whether or not they are developing a project, will create opportunities for them to complete their team.

We expect a fourth impact on the location in which the startups are launched. Often, student entrepreneurs launch their project in the city where they undertake their studies. However, that city is not necessarily the ideal market for the product they are launching. By discovering a new country, chosen from among those where the different partner universities are located, students will learn to compare different markets and decide where to launch their project based on facts.

The final impact will be on the number of projects abandoned by students because they previously had to choose between the project or an international academic exchange. By enabling them to continue their project during their exchange, the scheme will give them more of a chance to bring their project to fruition.

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