In order to support students interested in entrepreneurial careers, UCLy offers courses based on the interaction between project design and real-life application.
Entrepreneurship is no longer reserved to the most experienced professionals. Setting up activities, contributing to changing the world or finding a way of fulfilling oneself outside the predefined and often rigid structures defined by large companies, constitute a few of the diverse reasons why students aspire more and more to entrepreneurial careers. Entrepreneurship can be however be taught. ESDES has indeed introduced academic and professional programs to help candidates acquire entrepreneurial skills and establish the groundwork for the development of their project.
Cross-disciplinary knowledge and human qualities
The school’s entrepreneurship’s programs focuses on several principles.
Firstly, entrepreneurship must not be limited to starting a business, which is the most popular and mediatised way of becoming an entrepreneur. Taking over a business, sometimes after a family succession, is, for instance, another example which entails many challenges linked to mixing business with family and interpersonal relationships. Creating associations or alternative business structures in a social and solidarity-based economy, constitutes another type of entrepreneurship. The type of entrepreneurship which is increasingly common today is however the so-called “intrapreneurship”, i.e., entrepreneurship within an existing company, or project management. It is this concept which most attracts businesses and students.
Second, pedagogy applied to entrepreneurship must combine cross-disciplinary knowledge and requires human qualities from the entrepreneur. The idea is to resort to disciplinary expertise during a project and ensure consistency between the different dimensions of a human activity. At a time when the growing specialisation of science and subjects tends to fragment reality and thoughts, the aim here is, on the contrary, to bring them together at the same time and in a practical manner. It is impossible to separate finance from human resource, and the desire to undertake through entrepreneurial values from the need to render economic activity perennial. The common Anglo-Saxon image of the entrepreneur (an individualist hero who identifies business opportunities and takes risks in order to maximise his profit) rarely reflects the actual behaviors of entrepreneurs.
“A type of pedagogy promoting interaction and involvement”
Third, pedagogy applied to entrepreneurship focuses on action and involvement. It uses tools of analysis but must be complemented with professional encounters, discoveries, and contact with authors of a particular field or prospective clients, right from the beginning of the course and during the awareness classes. This requirement with regards to involvement does not only apply to the entrepreneur’s project. It is also important to be involved with others, the clients and the team, and to help other project directors by sharing ideas, networks and contacts. Once again, the collective dimension of the different types of entrepreneurship seems fundamental, not just for ethical reasons, but because it explains the factors of failure and success for each project. Pedagogy is therefore interactive and students learn by setting up their own project just as much as by communicating with other project directors and acquiring direct contacts.
Fourth, finally, entrepreneurial projects cannot be separated from the entrepreneur’s personality and the people who implement them. Entrepreneurial coaching must comply with the subjective dimensions of the people, their desires, values and interests. It must guide entrepreneurs through their decision-making but cannot replace them.
An entrepreneurial experience acquired at school.
During the DPE module (« Développement de projets entrepreneuriaux » [Tr: “Development of entrepreneurial projects”] intended for 3rd years (260 students), 47 teams of 5 students must design entrepreneurial projects. Students start with a creativity seminar, and then take part in coaching workshops. Conferences, intermediary presentations and teachers’ feedback are offered to students throughout the year. The “Jeunes Pousses de l’ESDES” contest concludes the first cycle and rewards the best virtual business projects among the teams. The projects are presented to all the 3A students and partner companies (PwC, BPI, Crédit Agricole, Rhône Alpes Creation). This module enables students to benefit from an entrepreneurial experience by being directly involved.
Students have the opportunity to choose the specialised master’s degree in “Business development” in order to further strengthen their knowledge of entrepreneurship. These teaching programmes are centred on two main goals: on the one hand, defining the specific features of SMEs (e.g.: assessment and strategies of SMEs, support and advice group, sector-specific days/industries) and on the other, strengthening entrepreneurial themes (assessment of entrepreneurial projects, meeting with investors, private equity, resumption, intrapreneurship, social entrepreneurship). From the very first year of specialisation, students come up with business plans which they implement themselves, and are encouraged to take part in external business start-up contests (e.g. Young Entrepreneur of the Year, Sife, etc.)
Conferences (such as « A la recherche du bon partenaire » [Tr: “Finding the right partner”] « Entreprendre pendant ses études, une réelle opportunité ? » [Tr: “Does entrepreneurship combined with academic studies represent a true opportunity?”] as well as an evening of networking with entrepreneurs and partners, complement this academic environment conducive to entrepreneurship.
Sans compter enfin l’implication de l’association des parents qui récompense chaque année des projets entrepreneuriaux et associatifs (concours e-challenge et concours « initiatives association »).
Finally, the role played by the parents’ association, which rewards every year the entrepreneurial and group projects (e-challenge contest and initiatives association contest), must also be highlighted.