The THA co-organized the workshop “Entrepreneurial University Metrics: State of the Art and Future Directions”

In late June 2015, representatives from across the world met to share their countries’ concepts of the Entrepreneurial University and to collectively create an internationally acceptable definition and metrics by which to understand them. The conference, which lasted from June 22 to June 23, took place at Leiden University’s Centre for Science and Innovation Studies (CWTS) in the Netherlands and was made possible in part by a grant from the National Science Foundation as well as hosts Roberto Tijssen and Alfred Yegros of CWTS. Participants were from Austria, Brazil, China, Finland, the Netherlands, Russia, and the United States and included professors, scholars, and graduate and undergraduate students.

The objectives set out for the workshop as defined by organizers Henry Etzkowitz, Denis Gray, and Robert Tijssen were:

  • To help clarify and reconcile contemporary definitions of “entrepreneurial university (EntU)” and, as necessary, to (further) develop an internationally acceptable typology of such universities;
  • To summarize what is known and not known about process and outcome metrics for operationalizing the EntU;
  • To highlight national and regional factors (e.g. elements of the regional or national innovation system) that might moderate both the form of EntU and their effectiveness;
  • To build upon the previous work begun among various workshop participants, and the work products of the workshop itself, in order to develop a collaborative international proposal to create and test valid and defensible EntU metrics;
  • To provide a valuable international training experience to doctoral and undergraduate students.

The achievement of these three goals were intended to enable deliverables including a position paper refining the concept of the Entrepreneurial University, relevant measurement and performance indicators (including existing and potential metrics), a draft proposal to the National Science Foundation, and a strategy for disseminating the aforementioned products.

Tijssen opened the workshop with an overview of state-of-the art research and commercialization metrics with the purpose of illustrating in more detail the triple helix model and the often uneven relationships between university, industry, and government. Universities with high quality science seem to be the most connected to industry; this is a phenomenon reflected in citation impact. In addition, he demonstrated how rankings are affected depending on factors such as university size. Using his non-size dependent R&D connectivity index, Tijssen demonstrated that in a size weighted version, the rankings results are: Harvard, University of Tokyo, Stanford, and MIT. However, when size independent, Eindhoven University of Technology, formerly number 13, ranks first due to a large number of professors with dual appointments in positions in R&D. Sogang University in South Korea ranks second due to a multitude of university-industry co-publications; companies on the campus publish with the university staff.

Tijssen’s presentation showed bibliometrics as an opportunity to introduce qualitative analysis, as quantitative methods have their limits; research conducted by Elaine Rideout revealed that within the United States there exist only 7 credible evaluations of entrepreneurial education, which even then are not sufficient for the goals of the workshop.

Louis Tornatzky, Elaine Rideout, and Denis Gray then presented their book Innovation U 2.0, a series of case studies of American universities geared toward helping universities improve their performance. A few themes they found in successful universities were leadership, entrepreneurship education, and industry research partnerships and technology transfer. Leadership is needed at every level of an institution, not just management, in addition to practitioner faculty who can provide mentorship, and an inheritable culture of innovation or the means to create one. Entrepreneurship Education, fueled by a demand from students, is characterized by an expansion of relevant extracurricular offerings and fostering an interdisciplinary mindset. The support of industry research partnerships, including the alumni community, facilitates the commercialization of a university’s research.

This was followed by a round-robin presentation of case studies by representatives from each country, each affiliated and familiar with a particular university. These presentations shed light on areas in education systems and policies that might facilitate or hinder the development of an Entrepreneurial University, as well as how such differences might affect the objective of creating an internationally viable definition of the Entrepreneurial University. For example, European universities run by ministries and government institutions might develop differently from American universities due to different sources of funding, the ability they have to dictate change, and the extent to which businesses can directly influence their educational systems.

At the same time, cross-cultural similarities emerged, such as the recognition that universities can positively impact their surrounding regions in ways that go beyond the economic contribution of commercialization. Participants learned about discussion in the Netherlands to allocate 2.5% of funding to the “valorization of knowledge,” a phrase denoting the potential social as well as economic benefits stemming from the utilization of new knowledge, whether through for-profit or non-profit means. Similarly, the Chinese delegate Yao Wei was quick to point out Zhejiang University’s emphasis on social innovation.

The workshop then turned toward hammering out a preliminary redefinition of the Entrepreneurial University based on its values, goals, activities, and performance which together form a unique concept separate from existing definitions of similar entities.

The second day of the workshop was characterized by collaborative group work to develop metrics for this synthesized definition. Four groups were created, each focusing on the inputs, throughputs, outputs, and impacts of an Entrepreneurial University for organizational purposes. The groups worked separately then reconvened to synthesize their progress. The nonlinear nature of the development of an Entrepreneurial University became clear over the course of each group’s presentation of their work when many metrics overlapped and discussions were made that they fit more in one category than another.

The end of the workshop included assigning representatives as major contributors to drafting a proposal grounded in the workshop’s results, headed by Tornatzky. Future directions and questions to be answered include whether or not this project should take direct action in influencing existing rankings, which are highly publicized but narrowly defined, as well as recognizing a need for internationally viable questionnaires for universities and research commercialization to ensure global comparability. In all cases, participants agreed that this work could play a major role in changing the public perception to a growing phenomenon in education systems worldwide. To this end, an international proposal drafting committee was formed to synthesize the products of the workshop and prepare them for future efforts.


The workshop participants are as follows (committee members are marked with an *):

Meeting Host Co-Organizers

Robert Tijssen*

Alfredo Yegros

Giovanna Guimarães Gielfi

Meeting Organizers

Henry Etzkowitz

Denis O. Gray*

United States of America

Elaine C. Rideout
Louis G. Tornatzky*

Timothy Michaelis

Alice Chunyan Zhou* (Representative for China)

Rebecca Wilbanks

Selina Her


Karl-Heinz Leitner*


Guilherme Ary Plonski *


Yao Wei


Anne Kovalainen*

Seppo Poutanen


Alexander Bikkulov

Stephen Hagen