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Learning to Be (L2B): An entrepreneurial approach to teaching entrepreneurship

University of Aveiro

Major Objective

Learning to be Program (L2B) aims at shaping the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs that may meet future employment demands. The program adopts a teaching-apprenticeship -learning strategy that ensures all students develop competences and skills in a ‘real world’ context, supported by a methodology that foster creativity and out-of-the-box thinking, with the objective of delivering insights and recommendations regarding a business challenge brought forth by an external partner organization.

Therefore, in the case of students, the program specific objectives are the following:

  • ‍Promote the development of knowledge and competences related to innovation and entrepreneurship in a ‘real world’ business context;
  • Promote students’ employability through internships and networking with business managers;
  • Enable students to gain “valuable insights” into the reality of the business world.

L2B Program provides also a unique opportunity to partner companies to gain fresh insights to their complex and wicked problems. More specifically, it aims at:

  • ‍Contribute for companies’ open innovation processes and the resolution of companies’ wicked problems;
  • Contribute to the recruitment of high talented and high-value employees;
  • Promote relevant academia contacts and networking.

An underlying goal of the L2B program design is to be an influencer of the local and regional innovation culture, through the promotion of social dynamics and organizational practices, that facilitate knowledge flows, entrepreneurial alliances, and provide resources and support to innovation.


L2B was designed in collaboration with companies, based on business innovation best-practices and methodologies, such as design thinking, lean start up and business model innovation, as well as recent high-level reports with recommendations from government and the European Commission. The syllabus combines both theory exposition, and hands-on projects where students put theory into practice through engaging in meaningful, real-world business challenges, and following a three phase methodology: i) problem understanding; ii) value creation; iii) strategy exploitation.

Students work during one semester alongside corporate partners, faculty, and former program students on collaborative teams, gaining insight and mentoring from experts, building their personal network, and enhancing their personal and team management skills.

Major Outcomes

Currently, the program is in its 6th edition, having participate more than 600 students from 12 different scientific fields, and 24 companies. Also, more than 145 projects were developed within the field of innovation.

Also, several scientific papers were already published summarising methodology, results and program’s impact. In 2017 the European Commission has recognised L2B program as a best-practice of university-business collaboration (

Lessons about Innovation

The involvement of companies in high education curriculum development is of paramount importance to build the skills of future labour force. Also, when it comes to teaching innovation and entrepreneurship, it cannot be underestimate the relevance of classroom culture to foster collaboration, creativity and autonomy, and teachers have to assume a radically different role in the classroom, in which they act more as facilitators of the learning process, and students can govern their own learning process.

How it challenges conventional thinking

Learning to Be program is focused on empowering students to manage their own learning process, through a structured innovation process designed in collaboration with companies. This learning approach is quite innovative, and it makes learning interesting and engaging, especially for students that are ending their bachelor or degree. 

Name of Author

Ana Daniel (University of Aveiro)

Name of Main Contact Person

Ana Daniel

University of Aveiro


Created in 1973, the University of Aveiro quickly became one of the most dynamic and innovative universities in Portugal. Now a public foundation under private law, it continues to develop and implement its mission to provide undergraduate and postgraduate education, to generate research and promote cooperation with society.

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