Entrepreneurial Minds: Rianne Poot

With seven faculties Utrecht University offers several examples of entrepreneurial minds in all fields of study and research. From teachers and students to alumni and researchers, from Humanities to Bio-Inspired Innovation and often interdisciplinary. The Centre for Entrepreneurship inspires by showcasing the entrepreneurial minds within Utrecht University.

Rianne Poot

Rianne Poot works as an Educational Advisor at Utrecht University for the past seven years. Rianne helps teachers and the management team on developing and improving educational material for UU students, with a focus on interdisciplinarity.     

On the 7th of February, the Centre for Entrepreneurship organized an inspiration session with prof. Bas Haring about strengthening entrepreneurial education at the Utrecht University. CfE also launched their workshops on Entrepreneurial Education (EE) for teachers at universities, which Rianne helped develop. We asked Rianne about her view on entrepreneurship education at Utrecht University:

Although I too, became enthusiastic about this new type of education, I still wondered. WHY?

When Jelle, program manager of the Centre, asked me as an educational consultant to develop workshops on Entrepreneurship Education, I was very interested. Jelle seemed super keen on promoting EE and all the other people that dealt with EE seemed super enthusiastic about the potential of it. They recognized the entrepreneurial spirit everywhere and saw opportunities on every horizon. And although I too became enthusiastic about this new type of education, I still wondered. Why?!

Luckily, in my work I am allowed to study the subject thoroughly and it was not until I came upon an article on Sarasvathy's effectuation theory that suddenly it clicked. She was explaining an entrepreneurial mindset that has helped successful entrepreneurs and brought it back to a few ever so simple principles. E.g: The Bird in Hand principle (You have to create solutions with the resources available here and now), The Lemonade Principle (Mistakes and surprises are inevitable and can be used to look for new opportunities) and the Affordable Loss Principle (You should only invest as much as you are willing to lose).

In every field there are unanswered questions, why not prepare students via EE to identify them and try to solve them via entrepreneurial thinking?

I realized we didn't need to prep our students to become the next Steve Jobs of build a super start-up, be we need to prep our students to see the bird in their own hand and start doing something with it. We don't need to let them focus on making a lot of money, but we need to ask our students to look for opportunities in their field and create value for the people in that field. This kind of mindset could be useful anywhere!

It was as if I had EE-goggles on. Suddenly I saw the entrepreneurial mindset everywhere and how it could benefit students. I saw it in biology students, who decided to create value for primary schools to develop a game in evolution. I saw it in pharmacy students that were developing a new drug. And in scientists that learn to identify the opportunity when applying for a research grant. In every field there are unanswered questions, why not prepare students via EE to identify them and try to solve them via entrepreneurial thinking?

So yes, I am excited to present teachers the possibilities of EE. We have developed a workshop for teachers (and preferably complete teacher teams) in which you will experience the entrepreneurial process in a pressure cooker set-up. We will dive into a bit of theory behind entrepreneurship education and mostly we will practice with the Entrepreneurial Canvas to tweak your own courses to let them be more entrepreneurial. I am excited to help create value via the teachers to our current and future students.

If you are getting curious, or want to dive straight into the subject, send a mail to entrepreneurship@uu.nl, or contact Rianne Poot via Linkedin. We will help you further!