Free Resources & Strategies for Higher Ed Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Building. The C•CUBE Toolkit from UWO & Venn Collaborative sponsored by the Kauffman Foundation

Teaching Ecosystem Building

As the landscape of entrepreneurship continues to evolve, so does the role of higher education institutions in fostering innovation, creating economic opportunities, and nurturing the next generation of entrepreneurs. Universities and colleges are increasingly seen as pivotal players in the development of robust entrepreneurial ecosystems within their regions. While many faculty members are dedicated to teaching students the skills required for entrepreneurial success, they may not always have the tools to connect those skills to the broader context of ecosystem building. This is where the Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Building Toolkit comes into play.

The C•CUBE toolkit is designed primarily for higher education professionals who work closely with external stakeholders to support ecosystem development. However, it also offers a valuable resource for entrepreneurship educators looking to empower their students with a deeper understanding of entrepreneurship ecosystems. By bridging the gap between traditional entrepreneurship education and ecosystem building, educators can prepare students for a rapidly changing entrepreneurial landscape.

Included below is a link to a PDF with a guide for conducting an ecosystem building simulation as part of your entrepreneurship education activities. We encourage you to use this guide, which incorporates the C•CUBE toolkit, to stimulate conversation among students about the value of ecosystems and ecosystem building.

The Significance of Entrepreneurship Ecosystems

Entrepreneurship ecosystems are dynamic networks of entrepreneurs, educators, government agencies, investors, and support organizations that collectively foster innovation, facilitate resource access, and drive economic growth within a specific region. Understanding these ecosystems is crucial for aspiring entrepreneurs, as they navigate a complex landscape of opportunities and challenges.

Why Include Ecosystem Building in Entrepreneurship Education?

While entrepreneurship education equips students with practical skills and knowledge, it often focuses on individual ventures rather than the broader context in which entrepreneurship operates. By introducing students to the concept of entrepreneurship ecosystems, educators can provide a more holistic perspective. Here are some compelling reasons for integrating ecosystem building into entrepreneurship education:

  • Real-World Relevance: Entrepreneurship students gain insight into the external forces shaping their future careers, allowing them to make informed decisions.
  • Ecosystem Literacy: Ecosystem building fosters a deeper understanding of the various stakeholders and resources within an entrepreneurship ecosystem.
  • Innovation and Collaboration: Students learn to identify collaboration opportunities and innovative solutions to ecosystem challenges.
  • Community Engagement: Ecosystem education encourages students to engage with local communities and contribute to the growth of their region.

Using the C•CUBE Toolkit in the Classroom

The C•CUBE toolkit offers a range of conversation guides that can serve as a foundation for classroom discussions. These guides help students explore critical ecosystem-building topics, such as assessing ecosystem alignment, identifying collaboration opportunities, and understanding the needs of ecosystem beneficiaries.

In addition, the toolkit provides a downloadable simulation guide designed to facilitate interactive learning experiences. Professors can use these simulation scenarios and role descriptions to immerse students in the complex world of ecosystem building. Through simulations, students can apply their entrepreneurial skills to address real-world challenges and opportunities within an entrepreneurship ecosystem.

Empowering Future Ecosystem Builders

By incorporating entrepreneurship ecosystem building into the curriculum, entrepreneurship educators empower their students to become well-rounded entrepreneurs who not only possess the skills needed to launch ventures but also understand how their efforts fit into a broader ecosystem. This knowledge equips students to become active contributors to their local entrepreneurial communities and agents of positive change.

As we navigate an ever-evolving entrepreneurial landscape, entrepreneurship educators have the opportunity to shape the future by nurturing the next generation of ecosystem builders. By embracing the Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Building Toolkit, educators can help students bridge the gap between education and real-world impact, ultimately strengthening their roles as entrepreneurial leaders within their communities.

Teach It!

Entrepreneurship education has the power to transform not only individual lives but entire communities. By integrating entrepreneurship ecosystem building into the classroom, you can prepare students to navigate the complexities of the entrepreneurial landscape, fostering innovation, collaboration, and economic growth. The C•CUBE toolkit offers a valuable resource to make this integration seamless, empowering the entrepreneurs of tomorrow to become catalysts for positive change within their ecosystems.

Download the C•CUBE Role-Playing Ecosystem Building Simulation Instructor Guide (Word Doc).


Download the C•CUBE Role-Playing Ecosystem Building Simulation Instructor Guide (PDF).

university classroom with instructor standing at the front and students at rows of tables