By Ashish Gupta
In today’s age, technology is evolving rapidly and has been a major driver of innovation that has impacted everything around us. In this digital times, maverick firms (i.e., startups) leveraging advanced technologies, such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, or data analytics, are considered to be drivers of national development. From providing solutions to many societal problems to creating new employment opportunities, and overcoming economic downturns, these innovative startups led by new-age entrepreneurs, play a significant role in shaping future competitiveness and ensuring economic development. Although business acumen still goes a long way while building businesses, the importance of tech skills and knowledge cannot be overlooked.
In the current volatile and dynamic market environment, entrepreneurs need to have advanced tech skills and knowledge to meet the demand and stay relevant in the market. Tech education plays an important role in developing and building thoughts about entrepreneurship among budding entrepreneurs. In addition to technical and analytical expertise, tech awareness and education develop an entrepreneurial and innovative mindset and enable potential entrepreneurs to identify and seize business opportunities, overcome and learn from failures, and succeed in different situations. It provides entrepreneurs with knowledge, tools, and attitudes to inject any corporate environment with innovative solutions. Therefore, most entrepreneurs happen to be from a tech background. A recent study shows that as many as 30 out of the 58 founders from 42 unicorns in 2021 are tech graduates from the IITs.
Rather than a traditional static learning approach focusing on ‘what is’ and ‘what has been’, tech education focuses on the process-oriented and action-oriented experimental learning approach i.e., learning-by-doing. In each stage of an entrepreneur’s journey — whether it is idea generation, idea selection, resource assemblage and utilization, business development strategies, production and services, or marketing customer satisfaction — technological awareness and education provide a competitive edge to potential entrepreneurs. It enhances generic skills in areas such as problem-solving, creative and critical thinking, teamwork, and gaining experience with ambiguity. It implies that entrepreneurial thinking and mindset is automatically embedded in tech education. The try and fail approach, along with the feedback loop, fosters entrepreneurship thinking. It helps entrepreneurs to think and look at problems from each angle applying a multi-dimensional approach to make headway towards a solution.
Undoubtedly, university education plays an important role in educating students and providing them with the skills necessary to become successful entrepreneurs. However, a traditional system of education restricts potential entrepreneurs to a market-oriented learning approach. This leaves a part of the potential budding entrepreneurs untapped. Therefore, it has now become necessary to move to a technology-oriented approach, which can teach students how to use entrepreneurial skills to build a sustainable business and commercialize their products. Furthermore, with continuous progress in technology and its evolving nature, awareness about these developments facilitate a entrepreneurial mindset to maintain a constant learning curve.
Gradually, universities and academic institutions across the world, realizing the significance, are now seeking to bridge the gap between entrepreneurship and tech education by imparting necessary tech skills and knowledge stimulating entrepreneurial thinking among potential entrepreneurs. With an improved understanding of the role of tech awareness and education, there has been a substantial increase in tech entrepreneurship courses and programs in higher education institutions worldwide. In India, premier institutes such as the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) and Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) are nurturing various strands of technological excellence and ventures driving innovation and entrepreneurship. These institutes also sponsor initiatives that inspire tech students to envision possibilities and create viable, innovative products, services, and processes.
The author is founder and trustee of Plaksha University.