Concept and Impact of an Integrated Approach to Entrepreneurship in Higher Education


  • Beat Birkenmeier University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland
  • Ivan Köhle University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland



Entrepreneurship, Education, Universities of Applied Sciences, Startups, Business Ecosystems


Studies show that the intention of students at Swiss universities to become an entrepreneur has been showing a positive trend since 2013 resulting in a 18,8 percent rate in 2021. The first part of this paper documents the analysis of how the business faculties of the nine Universities of Applied Sciences belonging to the Swiss universities Association take up the topic of entrepreneurship in their Bachelor- and Master-degree programs. This part is based on an analysis of publicly accessible module descriptions of the business administration curricula. The results show that three patterns can be recognized. Firstly, a group of universities that explicitly take up entrepreneurship as a focus subject in their curricula. Secondly, a group that deals with the topic in conjunction with the topic of "innovation". And thirdly, a group of universities that do not address the topic at all in their curricula. The second part presents the case study of the "Entrepreneurship Pyramid" which is an Integrated Concept implemented at the School of Business of the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland (FHNW) which belongs to the first group of universities mentioned above. The concept divides the entrepreneurship education into four levels. At the lowest level, there are compulsory courses for all students in the bachelor's degree programs. The next two levels are optional specializations in bachelor's and master's courses, the latter of which can already lead to founding a company. On the fourth level, there are other, mostly post-graduate offers. For this purpose, the School of Business of FHNW has built up a network within a regional ecosystem, which supports graduates in their entrepreneurial activities even after completing their studies. Start-up competitions, financing and coaching are offered in cooperation with state institutions, associations, and private companies. This part includes the results of a study which analysed how large the number of startups founded by graduates from the School of Business of FHNW is.