Autonomous University of Barcelona - Measuring the impact

The Autonomous University of Barcelona (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, UAB), founded in 1968, is one of seven higher education institutions located in the metropolitan area of Barcelona. It is centred in the heart of Catalonia, one of Spain’s most dynamic and entrepreneurial regions. UAB is one of the top three universities in Spain. Within the UAB, entrepreneurship is understood not only as the creation of new business, but also as the attitudes and skills required in professional life. The alumni community have wide access to entrepreneurial services offered by UAB. 

Innovative Features

  • Measuring the Impact

The HEI assesses the impact of its strategy on entrepreneurship across the institution

UAB is building the UAB Campus of International Excellence. This strategy is focused on generating a ‘Knowledge UAB-30 ecosystem’ using entrepreneurship and innovation as a driving force for local economic and social development. 

UAB has recognised the relevance of promoting entrepreneurship at all university levels (students, researchers and staff) and has provided mechanisms to support the entrepreneurial process. It has maintained regular connection with agents in the external entrepreneurial and innovation ecosystem to involve them in the agenda and ensure its sustainability. 

Within UAB entrepreneurship is understood not only as the creation of new business but also includes the attitudes and skills required in professional life. The UAB entrepreneurial agenda has been sponsored by private and public funds including the Catalan government, Spanish government and the European Commission. 

Its entrepreneurial agenda has covered several fronts: [1] 

  • Within the student community entrepreneurship is implemented by optional courses in undergraduate degrees e.g., business creation course, enterprise economy, and in postgraduate programmes Master in Organization, Management and Business Economics. There is also a PhD in Entrepreneurship and Management. 
  • The Employment Service, the University Centre for Entrepreneurship of Tourism School and the platform, ICT Laude of Young Entrepreneurs, provide support for potential entrepreneurs. Additionally, informal meetings and training courses are provided by the University-Enterprise Unit. 
  • The Research Park provides support to students and researchers interested in the creation of a company based on their research. In addition, training is provided by the University-Enterprise Unit.

  • The alumni community have access to all services mentioned above. 

The HEI assesses the level of engagement in entrepreneurship teaching and learning across the institution

UAB assesses the level of engagement in entrepreneurship teaching and learning across the institution. 

At the undergraduate level, entrepreneurship education is promoted through optional, transversal courses e.g. business creation or enterprise economy are open to all undergraduate students. The approach is practical, supported by theoretical models applied in the form of simulations, cases and the student’s own project. 

At the postgraduate level, there are two programmes: The Master in Organization, Management and Business Economics. There is also a PhD in Entrepreneurship and Management focused on engagement in entrepreneurial learning. Students are encouraged to disseminate their projects through conferences, research papers, and collaboration with other researchers. 

Additionally, there are informal courses offered by the employment service and university-enterprise unit designed to build students’ skills and highlight the importance of developing entrepreneurial expectations. These are made more attractive by internal contests promoted by the Centre for Entrepreneurship of Tourism School and the Platform ICT Laude of Young Entrepreneurs. 

At the researcher level, the Research Park offers entrepreneurial teaching and education to all university community members. Courses are developed by internal and external experts. Contributors include BioEmprenedorXXI Barcelona Activa, Vallès Technology Park, and ESADE Creápolis. 

The Research Park also provides incubator support and tutorship based on the nascent entrepreneur’s requirements e.g. legal advice, networking, and guidance on strategic alliances. 

Attitudes to entrepreneurship provided the focus of a recent evaluation of the activities developed in Catalonian universities. (Urbano and Guerrero, 2013) [2]. 60 Catalonian academics responded to the evaluation. These academics reported that traditional activities (teaching and research) have been better recognised by their Universities than entrepreneurial activities. The Spanish Ministry of Education and Catalan University Quality Assurance Agency does not include the development of entrepreneurial activities as part of an academic’s evaluation. However, there is strong engagement in entrepreneurial teaching and research across the university, and recognition that the environmental factors are in place to deliver the declared entrepreneurial vision, despite the desire for more financial resources. 

The HEI regularly assesses the impact of entrepreneurship teaching and learning

UAB does not have formal mechanisms to measure the impact of entrepreneurship education. The impact of undergraduate entrepreneurship courses is informally measured through feedback surveys. Students give their opinion about the most relevant contributions and their recommendations. Students typically ask for more practical exercises and more contact with local entrepreneurs. 

In 2013, UAB joined the GUESSS project in order to enhance the measurement of the entrepreneurial intentions of its students, its entrepreneurial index, and enable benchmarking against other universities. 

The HEI carries out regular monitoring and evaluation of the impact of start-up support

UAB publishes an annual report discussing the main indicators of its teaching, research and entrepreneurial agendas. These results help inform their decision making regarding improvements in each agenda. The Research Park records number of enquiries received and success levels including spin-offs created, financial funds obtained, alliances created, and growth of established spin-offs. Longitudinal studies provide the best way to measure the socioeconomic impact of entrepreneurship. There is a desire to institutionalise the monitoring and evaluation of all entrepreneurship actions developed inside the university. Longitudinal studies provide the best way to measure the socioeconomic impact of entrepreneurship. There is a desire to institutionalise the monitoring and evaluation of all entrepreneurship actions developed inside the university.


[1] The UAB entrepreneurship network (UABEmprèn).  It is a central campus program created by the UAB to promote attitudes generating business ideas and projects for all members of the university community (students, staff, researchers, and alumni).

[2] Urbano, D., & Guerrero, M. (2013). Entrepreneurial Universities Socioeconomic Impacts of Academic Entrepreneurship in a European Region. Economic Development Quarterly, 27(1), 40-55.


- The entrepreneurial agenda requires a strong investment of resources; under difficult economic conditions the educational budgets are reduced.

- Regular monitoring and evaluating of the economic and social impact needs to be formalised in order for the entrepreneurial agenda to become a mainstream component within the university.


David Urbano and Maribel Guerrero 

Business Economics Department, Autonomous University of Barcelona

  • Case studies
Submitted on:
18 Sep 2015