Freie Universität is an official partner of the Postdocs-to-Innovators Network (p2i). The p2i programme enables early career researchers (postdocs) from across the partnership to engage in a range of activities matched to their interests and needs. Participation in p2i activities is via a well-structured process and delegates are connected with other researchers, industrial contacts, investors, entrepreneurs and academics with experience in start-ups. P2i stands out as a particularly innovative approach for university-industry relationships according to the League of European Research Universities (LERU) - a report highlighted by Nature in 2018.
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Entrepreneurial mindset: developing attitudes, skills and behaviours to succeed academically, personally and professionally. Industry placements: catalysts for career related decisions - developing business acumen and other experiences essential for careers in and outside academia.
Online entrepreneurship course: covers entrepreneurial mindset and language, basic knowledge and skills in entrepreneurship.
Network of entrepreneurial postdoc societies: postdoc led initiatives based in HEIs, working with industry partnesr to turn postdocs into innovators and entrepreneurs. The societies share knowledge and expertise, best practice and new ideas.
Enterprise fairs: two-day events, hosted by p2i industry members, in collaboration with p2i member universities. Postdocs explore key issues in entrepreneurship through a series of talks, panel sessions, one-on-one discussions and workshops. (2017: in Cambridge and Berlin, 2018 in Paris and Glasgow - upcoming)
Industry placements: catalysts for career related decisions - developing business acumen and other experiences essential for careers in and outside academia.
Entrepreneurship events: opportunities for postdocs curious about commercialisation and aspiring entrepreneurs to form a team, develop, test and pitch business ideas in an intense couple of days.(e.g., Venture Creation Weekend or Genome Data Hackathon in Cambridge, Skinnovation Event in Innsbruck)
Mentoring: mentors from across the p2i partnership will act as role models of “career changers” to help develop and grow the skills, knowledge, confidence and cultural understanding of the protégé to help him or her succeed.
Business plan competitions: platforms for postdocs to test their idea, gain experience and exposure and win resources to develop their idea locally. The p2i consortium is planning an international business plan competition every three years where the local winners come together for a single big finale event, culminating in widely recognised international future leaders in the corporate and entrepreneurship sector.
Entrepreneurship residential courses: intensive training programmes for aspiring entrepreneurs who already have a business idea or early stage venture to trial and prepare business ideas for the commercial environment. opportunities for postdocs curious about commercialisation and aspiring entrepreneurs to form a team, develop, test and pitch business ideas in an intense couple of days. (e.g., DRS Pro Transfer in Berlin or Ignite in Cambridge)
The number of postdoc positions at universities has grown over the past years. However, tenure positions have not increased accordingly and long-term academic careers are now the exception, not the norm. The postdocs to innovators (p2i) consortium was created in recognition of the increasing need to enhance the Entrepreneurial mindset and a key set of skills postdoctoral researchers can use to pursue careers that will be personally and professionally meaningful both within and outside of academia. The current p2i partners, five leading Higher Education Institutes (HEIs) and four global enterprises, are all committed to improving the potential and mobility of postdocs to, inter alia, contribute to economic and social growth and expand EU competitiveness.
The p2i programme builds upon already existing provision at the partner organisations, by focusing on filling a gap in delivery at the very early stages of the entrepreneurial life cycle with a particular focus on changing mindsets, awareness, inspiration and intention. For the Industry partners, developing an entrepreneurial mindset and vital ‘know-how’ to transform ideas into positive results for companies and society are desirable attributes for any current and future employees. However, the main ambition is to ensure that those who engage with p2i come away with a clear understanding of the importance of the entrepreneurial mindset and its impact on a successful future regardless of their career trajectory. The European consortium offers an international dimension - postdocs are a highly mobile workforce and these collaborations bring cohorts together from different countries, providing a flavour of different ecosystems. The initiative provides a shared model of leadership learning between the academic and industry partners, which will become embedded in HEI development training and include delivery by industry partners.
Prof. Dr. Hannes Rothe serves as a member of the advisory board and person of contact to the p2i network at Freie Universität Berlin.