39th EBES Conference -ROME, Rome, Italy, 06 April 2022, pp.87-88
The role of entrepreneurship in contributing to economic development and job creation has become widely accepted. However, the best ways to promote entrepreneurship are less agreed upon. Furthermore, universities are typically among the top candidates to contribute to the development of entrepreneurship. Universities are moving into their 3rd generation (typically referred to as Entrepreneurial Universities) where in addition to education and research, value creation has been added as a third objective. In this environment, universities are expected to generate entrepreneurs from their graduates and faculty members, while also creating innovations and providing support to entrepreneurs in general.
The impact of entrepreneurial universities like MIT and Stanford in developed countries has been well documented and examined. However, the impact of entrepreneurial universities in developing countries has received less attention. In this paper, we contribute to the literature by examining part of the story of how a research university (METU-Middle East Technical University) in a developing country evolved into an entrepreneurial university. METU was established in 1956 in Ankara, Turkey with the aim of becoming a world-class higher education institution for the region. METU has become one of the leading Turkish Research Universities, is almost always at the top of the national entrepreneurial university rankings, and has a thriving on-campus Technopark with more than 300 firms employing more than 6,000 people. In particular, we focus on the organization of the YFYI (Yeni Fikirler Yeni İşler-New Ideas New Businesses) entrepreneurship business plan contest starting in 2005 and the effect it had in helping develop the entrepreneurship ecosystem in METU and the region. We provide a background of the evolution of the YFYI contest, as well as, information about the participants and the effects the contest has had on the entrepreneurship ecosystem. The information we provide comes from data collected from a survey sent to the participants and supported with information from databases, LinkedIn and other internet sources. Additionally, in-depth interviews were conducted with 5 people that were significant actors in the development of the YFYI Entrepreneurship Contest in order to reach the full story behind the YFYI. We conclude that even if an entrepreneurship contest is not sufficient by itself to develop an entrepreneurship ecosystem, it can still make significant contributions.