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Member News: C.C. Eship / NACCE Journal Winter/Spring 2010

I Am A Student; I Am An Entrepreneur:What Has Happened to the I-House

Tuesday, January 19, 2010   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Matthew Montoya
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By Anne-Stine Larsen, Video-journalist
Pernille Berg, Head of Research & Innovation
Vibeke Brander Lenskjold, Communications Officer

Niels Brock Business College, Copenhagen, Denmark

Editor’s Note:

In July 2008, we posted news about the new I-House at Niels Brock Business College in Copenhagen, Denmark, in the Member News section of the NACCE Web site. This report updates what’s been happening since the I-House opened. The I-House is a 50,000 square feet, newly established division whose aim is to enhance the entrepreneurial mindset. The I-House holds educational programs, staff training programs, networking sessions and a business incubator.

Amidst a global financial crisesthere is a greater need for an entrepreneurial mindset than ever; we need innovative entrepreneurs who can imagine and work a way out of the crisis. The challenge is great, and the risk-willingness must correlate with the challenges that young entrepreneurs are currently facing. At the I-House we do not pretend that these challenges do not exist. Instead we welcome the challenges and are convinced that the future needs can be met by today’s youth. The I-House is based on the firm belief that a social learning environment can stimulate and enhance the competencies of the future entrepreneurs. We work under the premise that learning takes place in a social community that consists of knowledge, experience, values and commitment.

We thus ensure that the networks permeate the I-House by letting lecturers acquire new teaching skills such as coaching techniques etc. The lecturer becomes much more than lecturer, and today many members of faculty find the term "learning facilitator” much more appropriate when describing their many activities.

The I-House’s mission was to create the entrepreneurs of tomorrow. After a year and a half we have had the opportunity to allow ourselves to assess what was done and what has happened. It is tempting to lean back and smile as the list of successes is long. We have created a learning environment based on four basic principles. Future entrepreneurs should engage in:

  • an environment that ensures that they are based in a social environment that ensures the possibility of having
  • successes, furthermore they need
  • role models; the combination of these three provide them with
  • self-insight.

How have we ensured that this actually takes place?

Business Live–Letting Reality In

The students are frequently exposed to role models by introducing them to both local and internationally acclaimed entrepreneurs. Business Live is a weekly activity where a local entrepreneur visits the I-House and shares his/her experiences and challenges with the students.

What does it mean to expose the students to role models? Business Live is a recurring activity and it allows students to build a network while studying. Apart from each session providing the students with unique insights into the challenges of entrepreneurship, it also allows the I-House to create and maintain a valuable network for staff and students. The spin-off is that staff members are able to form relations and gain access to live entrepreneurial cases. Furthermore, the entrepreneurs report that they learn a lot from meeting our young students, who ask questions that are thought provoking, relevant, stimulating and insightful.

Globalization and Future Challenges

When the I-House was conceptualized, globalization impacted Denmark in many ways; we were and are rapidly becoming an old population, with a labor shortage and an economy that had to change and become a knowledge economy. Our welfare state was and is still seriously challenged; we need new solutions to serious challenges.

Our young entrepreneurs are able to provide us with those solutions and we are currently in awe of two young entrepreneurs who have designed a training device for patients recovering from e.g. seizures. It is innovative and offers unique solutions to previously active people who are now struggling to regain mobility and independence. The Incubator is able to provide the entrepreneurs with contacts that can aid them in their progress by introducing them to members of our network. This has enabled the business to become established as an EU-supported research project, and it is a perfect example of private-public research partnership.

Young Danish entrepreneurs have to contribute to the Danish welfare state by offering new innovative services that add much needed value to our flexicurity1 system. However, the welfare state is not only facing tough challenges when it comes to labor shortage and a growing population in need of welfare services. Sustainability is on everybody’s lips these days and Copenhagen hosting COP15 (see is an imminent example of the proactive approach to environmental challenges. Our students also contribute to these innovative solutions.

They are taught ethics through action learning. The staff run frequent interviews with the students to ensure that values and ethics permeate the business ideas. Students’ businesses are sustainable or altered to become and incorporate sustainability while in the incubator.

Outside In–Inside Out

The I-House has thus successfully created a learning community, and the students are beginning to report that the programs entailing creativity, innovation, finance, marketing, entrepreneurship, logistics etc. provide them with much valued theoretical insights and stimulating discussions with knowledgeable learning facilitators. The pivotal moment was when the I-House remained true to its origin and let the students and entrepreneurs create and co-produce the programs and happenings in the I-House.

After members of the I-House traveled to Iceland to study how entrepreneurs deal with the crisis, we were reminded that co-producing is the new way forward. This supported our experiences of including students in our projects and the I-House invited students to conceptualize and organize a summer camp for young potential entrepreneurs.

The summer school was among trendsetting activities for the Danish youth population and the first summer camp developed and organized by students themselves. The participants loved it and the feedback was outstandingly positive.

Co-producing creates the foundation for success and when the students experience success, they become more courageous. Thus some students openly express that being an I-House student has set them to the path of becoming an entrepreneur!

Success begets success and with success comes new self-insight.

What is new and what the I-House attempts to implement into our daily practice is that the concept of success has changed. Success is and continues to be based on different values and it is embedded in a new paradigm. It is the paradigm of sustainability and it impacts your business model and your business strategies. Globalization has impacted the market structure and market principles. The exponential growth of technology and mass communication means that the future generations have been raised in a hybrid of choices, easy access to knowledge and the impression that everything is possible. The result is an expectation of influence, meaningful dialogue, transparency and authenticity. Demands facing future entrepreneur and the I-House!

For further information please contact Pernille Berg at Also visit,,, and

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