Preface edited by Mari Kiviniemi and Themis Christophidou

To support entrepreneurship and innovation, higher education institutions (HEIs) need to be innovative and entrepreneurial in organising education, research and engagement with businesses and the broader community. Some HEIs have a solid foundation of initiatives on which to build, pioneered by individuals. Scaling up and sustaining change at institutional and systemic levels requires supporting frameworks for resource allocations, staff incentives, continuous professional development, and the creation of strategic partnerships – locally, nationally and globally.

Transforming traditional HEIs into innovative and entrepreneurial organisations is a complex endeavour. For example, knowledge exchange and engagement with business and society are often not foreseen in their core functions, core funding and staff deployment provisions.

Many pioneering HEI-led actions and government policy reforms are emerging internationally. The aim of HEInnovate is to identify and analyse them, and to make information available at European and global levels in order to help new initiatives evolve and grow. HEInnovate is a guiding framework, which offers inspiration and advice, through a series of country reviews, a self-assessment tool for higher education institutions, and a peer-learning network for policymakers, rectors or presidents of HEIs, and entrepreneurship champions in HEIs.

The entire higher education sector in the Netherlands offers excellent examples of entrepreneurial and innovative HEIs. A wide range of actions at government and HEI level have been implemented and tied together within a national agenda, aimed at creating value from academic knowledge by generating innovative services, products, processes and business models that meet economic, social and environmental needs. Nevertheless, there is more to do.

Among the key priorities are increasing interdisciplinarity, scaling up efforts to strengthen entrepreneurial mindsets through teaching, creating greater incentives for effective wider global engagement of researchers and students, and strengthening support for growth-oriented start-ups from HEIs. Both the European Commission and the OECD actively support these priorities and sharing best practice.

We are grateful to the Netherlands for the effective and lasting partnership that has been created with this review, and for the great variety of “learning models” which contribute to the current discussions in Europe and the wider OECD area on effective policy options and higher education practices to support entrepreneurship and innovation. This report offers valuable lessons and ideas for policy makers, HEI leaders and staff, and other stakeholders in the Netherlands and beyond. We look forward to continued collaboration with the Netherlands in HEInnovate.


Mari Kiviniemi

Deputy Secretary-General, OECD


Themis Christophidou

Director General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture, European Commission

End of the section – Back to iLibrary publication page