The University of Malaga has evolved over the years to become an entrepreneurial University. This processs has been driven following the perspective of the Service-Dominan (SD) Logic, where value is exchanged through the interaction of the different actors in a framework. In this sense, the University of Malaga has evolved shifting from an university that design activities to promote entrepreneurship to another that offers a suitable environment to the university community to explore, assess and exploit ideas that can be converted into entrepeneurial activities.
Therefore, the University at institutional level is focused on the creation of a startup ecosystem, providing the context as main value proposal. The capacity to sum up collaborators to the ecosystem depends on the capacity of communicating the value proposal of a context with high innovative and entrepreneurial talent available. At the same time, the degree of exchanges and the participation of the different actors in the ecosystem is up to university’s capacity to change the rules constraining the collaboration possibilities.
This role is quite related with the fact of finding the right agents and parties carrying and sharing knowledge to favour innovation. This agents, that can be individual or organisations and can be called boundary spanners or innomediaries, act as catalysts of creativity and knowledge, by collecting information, expertise, skills, and experiences from a heterogeneous mass of actors, and by encouraging the interchange of ideas, tools images and languages. Boundary spanners role lies in fostering interactions and relationships at the actor-to-actor level and at the collective level through four main practices: engaging, exploring, exploiting and orchestrating as the ways enabling resource exchange and integration. Engaging is a way to build connections in social networks, while exploring lever on knowledge and creativity in networks. This knowledge is fully exploited in the third practice through modifying and extending solutions, and finally orchestrating is the definition of alignment and linkage of actors to achieve innovation and overcome the contextual divides.
The University of Malaga has created the Link by UMA-Atech as a structure that works as a boundary spanner in itself. Link is a common space for university and companies to arise creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship. Is a place where the university community have the chance to learn and experiment, while companies find ouf great professionals. Link works as a hub, a place that connects different actors from the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem.
Therefore, regarding engaging, at Link-UMA the key activities in the development of an entrepreneurial university are:
- Identification of actors and their value proposals for the university community
- Creation of a friendly environment for engagement and exchange among actors, as well as the managing of networks and new members.
With the support of Link, the entrepreneurs create their companies (explore) and progress with them from scratch, but, in addition already established businesses find new ways to keep growing. Exploiting is made thanks to the Spin-off Contest, organized every year with the aim of creating new companies promoted by researchers and/or students. Finally, orchestrating is made at institutional level thanks to the inclusion of entrepreneurship in the core of the strategy of the University. Entrepreneurship is specifically mentioned in relevant documents such the University’s statutes or its main strategic plan, there is a Vice-Rectorate for Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and a Strategic Plan for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.