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What motivates students to start their own business? Experiences from Aalborg University, Denmark
Entrepreneurship is an important driving force for innovation in a region. Generally, cities with universities perform better than peripheral municipalities on entrepreneurship and innovation. Knowledge generated by universities may encourage entrepreneurship and the foundation of start-ups. In this article, we will focus on what motivates university students to become an entrepreneur and what their perceptions of barriers to entrepreneurship are. This is an interesting research question, because we know relatively little about what motivates students to start a new business. We have conducted six face-to-face interviews with student entrepreneurs and a Business Developer from SEA (Supporting Entrepreneurship at Aalborg University) with the aim to investigate to what extent university students hold an interest in an entrepreneurial career as well as whether universities create entrepreneurial opportunities for students. In order to contribute to current research on student entrepreneurs, we will also investigate the context in which university students decide to become entrepreneur. We have restricted our study to the organisational and the spatial context. The organisational context will be described by taking point of departure in the characteristics of Aalborg University (AAU, Denmark). The spatial context is considered to be an important factor that influences a student’s decision to become an entrepreneur. The spatial context can be local, regional and national. We have chosen to examine the regional context by looking at the different initiatives that have been launched in the region of Northern Jutland (Denmark) where AAU is located. The aim of these initiatives is to provide a better setting for student start-ups. Most of the students studying at AAU come from Jutland and the region around Aalborg and research has shown that start-ups that are launched in the region where the entrepreneur comes from, or lives, are more successful. Two assumptions are made: 1) Aalborg university (organisational context) plays an important role for student entrepreneurs to start their own business and 2) Theregion around Aalborg University provides students access to resources to start their own business (spatial context).