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Entrepreneurship Centre of Excellence initiative (ECE)

Introduction to the initiative

It has been witnessed among students and young entrepreneurs that they lack a certain set of knowledge-based skills which are essential for a successful entrepreneur. The lack of students’ (candidates’) readiness can be referred to two main reasons; firstly, is because the theories taught in business schools with regards to entrepreneurship are not context dependent. In other words, most of the theories offered do not address the distinctiveness of the Saudi market. Secondly, the absence of the mechanisms with which ideas (in the minds of the entrepreneurs) can be transformed to a feasible business model (commercialization of ideas). However, it needs to be recognized that candidates with business degrees are much more prepared to go through such journey than candidates with none business degrees especially engineers.

The vision

Is to contribute to the development and advancement of entrepreneurship in the Saudi market in a way that positively impacts commerce in Saudi Arabia and nearby economies.

The mission

Is to establish a multi-functional center where students and interested candidates can gain the type of knowledge-based skills to become successful entrepreneurs. The center should be designed to provide a range of advice and education for individuals and to other organizations, such as; SMEs in local and regional community. In this way, individuals are developed to start their own businesses and advice and support can be provided to existing organizations as well.

The main function of the entrepreneurship center of excellence (ECE):

As illustrated in the figure above, the center will contain three main functions which will enable achieving the center’s vision and they will be explained as follows:
  1. The Entrepreneurship incubator

    The objective of this function is to develop and offer a mechanism with which candidates will be able to commercialize their idea (i.e. transform ideas to feasible and scalable businesses) and it contains two main sub-functions; entrepreneurship workshops/seminars series and entrepreneurship competition. These will be explained separately below:

    1. Entrepreneurship workshops/seminars

      The initial objective of this function is to deliver a set of seminars aimed to educate interested candidates and help develop and strong platform of entrepreneurial knowledge. These seminars are not specific to subjects but also customized to accommodate the distinctiveness of the Saudi Market. The overall outcome of these seminars is to enable interested candidates to learn develop a professional feasibility study and prepare them for the implementation stage of their new venture. It is of paramount importance to ensure that candidates understand the uniqueness and distinctiveness of the Saudi market to order to improve their chances of success. For this reason, such seminars should be built on existing generic (theoretical) knowledge yet address the applicability of such knowledge in the Saudi market. To do achieve that, instructors/speakers must be more practitioners rather than pure academics (see attachment-1; workshops/seminars table of content). This function/initiative can also be considered as a “feeder” to the competition (1.2) which will be discussed in the following section. Should applicants to the workshop decide not to compete after completion, they can do so which is represented by option (4). Alternatively, applicant will also be given the opportunity to compete (after completing the workshop) which is represented by option (1).
    2. Entrepreneurship competition

      This function can be considered as a standalone initiative which basically establishing a platform for young entrepreneurs to compete against the panel of judges. This initiative is to provide the testing ground for knowledgeable entrepreneurs to pitch their ideas and the visibility of their new venture. Theoretically, candidates participating in this initiative are expected to be ready for implementation. This entails that participating candidates are either candidates who just completed the workshops/seminars series (following option-1 in function 1.1), or candidates who are already experienced and ready to compete. Therefore, a screening process should take place to decide on which new venture proposal will be allowed to compete in the first place. The screening criteria are summarized in a form that is developed to document and control the judges’ assessment in each criteria and to ensure consistence in evaluation (attachment-2; Entrepreneurship competition’s assessment form). In order for the incubator to add further value, unsuccessful contenders in the competition can apply to the entrepreneurship workshop/seminar series to improve their business plan which is represented by option (2).

      Applicants are expected to submit their proposals to the director of the entrepreneurship center of excellence (ECE) according to a preannounced date. The director will form (chair) the screening (process) and announce the list of candidates to be enrolled in the competition. A venue will be arranged to conduct the competition within PMU. Each of the competing proposal is expected to be defend against the panel which might contains practitioners, successful entrepreneurs and academics. The ultimate goal of this initiative is not only ensure the feasibility of the venture but also to prepare those candidates to attract/persuade potential investors. The remaining part is to mobilize required resources to provide support to the winning proposal (s).

      the nature of support to be offer to the winning proposals include two main parts; coaching and funding which represent the implementation stage of the new venture. If owners of the winning proposal (s) are interested to have PMU as a partner, a suitable coach is will be assigned to provide supervision and guidance to the entrepreneurs. Also, the assigned coach will assist the owners to develop and submit a proposal for funding to the director of the ECE who will aim to obtain required approvals to process and release the funds. The entrepreneurs are not obligated to offer any equity shares against PMU’s support; which is represented by option (3) in the figure above. Alternatively, if winning candidates decide not receive coaching and funding from PMU, they are also allowed to seek support elsewhere which is represented by option (4).

      1. Training and certification

        This function is aimed to design and offer more specialized workshops and certifications related to entrepreneurship as a specialty. For example, offering intensive certifications (or diploma level) in financial reporting, project management and business law. This function can be operated by PMU’s faculty members and managed by the deanship of business development and community service especially when such certifications are offer to the public. Therefore, this function follows all existing and approved policies used by the deanship of business development and community service.
      2. Consultancy

        This function is aimed to enhance PMU’s contribution to society by providing consultancy for existing and newly established ventures/companies. This function as part of the entrepreneurship center of excellence is aligned with PMU’s strategic goals. Therefore, this function is also follows all existing and approved policies that governs PMU’s faculty and staff providing consultation to external bodies.