On Friday June 30, Georgian Institute of Public Affairs (GIPA) and the Maastricht School of Management (MSM), Netherlands held a one-day conference on the theme of entrepreneurship and the entrepreneurial university.
Mr. Giorgi Zviadadze, Chairman of Georgia’s Innovation and Technology Agency (GITA) made a call for all participants to come up with innovative ideas and announced a new scholarship program for a team of Georgian-European-Asian students that want to work on inventions with potentially global impact. Ms. Floor Nuiten-Elzinga, Deputy Head of Mission, Embassy of the Netherlands, stressed the importance of education for entrepreneurship by illustrating the successful multi-million online home-delivery service (thuisbezorgd.nl) that started as a student start-up with only 100 Euros.
Professor Meine Pieter Van Dijk, Patrick Martens and Huub Mudde represented MSM with presentations on what a graduate needs to know to start-up a business, on the importance of the new competition law in Georgia as a driver of entrepreneurship, and on entrepreneurial universities. GIPA staff presented the findings of how staff and students perceive the entrepreneurial status of GIPA, a vision on the importance for GIPA to educate ‘entrepreneurial citizens’, and an overview of the challenges and opportunities of innovation in Georgia.
The conference was attended by key actors of the Georgian higher education sector and marked the end of a one-year training program that was financially supported by the Netherlands government (Nuffic). As follow-up, MSM and GIPA will continue to cooperate in education and research.
The conference was highly opportune and timely, because higher education institutions in Georgia recently started to develop entrepreneurship and business support programs for its students. Labs and incubators are mushrooming, and complete new study programs on entrepreneurship and innovations are being set-up. The Government of Georgia, who as of 2014 has taken concerted actions in support of entrepreneurship development, is triggering these initiatives. Under the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia, the Entrepreneurship Development Agency (Enterprise Georgia) and GITA were established in 2014, with the aim of facilitating innovation and private sector (and in particular SME) development through financial and technical support mechanisms, as well as export support (Government of Georgia, 2014).