Honorata Fajga-Żurańska is based at the Centre for Academic Entrepreneurship and Technology Transfer at Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń, Poland. Honorata provides insight into her role in the Inno4YUFE project, and how her involvement has supported the development of services for student entrepreneurs and innovators at her institution.

My role in Inno4YUFE

Inno4YUFE strives to remove the barriers to student entrepreneurship, to encourage anyone with an innovative idea, or entrepreneurial spirit, to develop the skills needed to fulfil their potential and make their dreams a reality.

My role within the Inno4YUFE project involves the creation of training programmes for young researchers, focusing on the ‘soft’ skills, such as communication and problem solving, needed to successfully share their ideas and activities with a wider audience. Working alongside colleagues at partner institutions in Maastricht and Antwerp, the programme we have devised incorporates comprehensive entrepreneurial online training with mentoring and interactive events to promote collaboration and knowledge transfer among participants across the Inno4YUFE network.

Another aspect of my role is establishing internship opportunities that allow participants to put into practice the academic theory learnt in the classroom. It’s important for me to establish connections within industry, as well as organising both the logistical and practical elements, to ensure students are able to maximise the opportunities to obtain vital work experience and widen their professional network.

Establishing a support service for student entrepeneurs

The Centre for Academic Entrepreneurship and Technology Transfer at Nicolaus Copernicus is very young, having only been set up two years ago. Within our own institution, we have worked hard to raise our profile and be seen as a crucial service for our students. As part of the Inno4YUFE project, I have been able to access expertise from colleagues at institutions across Europe to help develop our service and offer exciting, market-driven activities to support the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs.

We have successfully hosted a series of specialist events and are proud to have established Copernicus Startup Labs, a business incubation and acceleration programme, that is currently supporting eight student start-ups at our university. The support of Inno4YUFE colleagues has also helped us to develop a strategy for communication and recognise opportunities to expand what we offer in response to student feedback and wider global needs and issues.

Working with my European colleagues as part of this project, we have been able to establish processes to enhance our prospects for expanding our offering in the future. We are able to learn from one another to enforce best practice, using the resources we have collectively to provide the best training opportunities to our first Inno4YUFE cohort. 

By visiting partner institutions, I have witnessed the positive impact entrepreneurial support for students can have on individuals, their academic institutions, and the wider community. The Inno4YUFE programmes offer exciting possibilities to enhance this by connecting communities of budding entrepreneurs across Europe and providing the opportunities for them to collaborate, share ideas and strengthen their professional outlook.     

Benefits for Inno4YUFE participants

Inno4YUFE poses a unique opportunity to students at the partner institutions, to benefit from training and mentoring from innovation and entrepreneurial experts across Europe, as well as the opportunity to work collaboratively (online and in-person) with their European peers. We understand that our student communities have so much to give and that it’s vital we provide the platform and environments that enable them to share their ideas and facilitate their growth as future change-makers within society.

By encouraging our students to participate in the internships, training, mentoring and events available, we are empowering them to expand their portfolios, connect with a wide range of professional and academic contacts, and broaden their professional and personal experiences.

Looking to the future

Being part of the Inno4YUFE project has proved to be an extremely rewarding process for me, and this is just the beginning! The experience has enriched me as a person by allowing me to work alongside and learn from others and develop inspiring opportunities for students.

As we prepare to welcome our first cohort of Inno4YUFE students, I am excited to be part of this learning journey that will bring together budding entrepreneurs from across Europe to develop their skills, work together collaboratively and have the potential to make positive change within our local ecosystems.