Credits: 6

Schedule: 25.02.2019 - 05.04.2019

Teacher in charge (valid 01.08.2018-31.07.2020): 

Patrick Schulist

Contact information for the course (applies in this implementation): 


Dr. Patrick Shulist (Primary

Lauri Laine, PhD Candidate



Töölö: E1.14 (Arkadia)

Otaniemi: X207

Töölö: E1.18 (Arkadia)

Otaniemi: TBD

Office Hours

By Appointment


Teaching Period (valid 01.08.2018-31.07.2020): 

Period IV (Spring 2019, Otaniemi campus)
Period IV (Spring 2020, Otaniemi campus)


Learning Outcomes (valid 01.08.2018-31.07.2020): 

Students gain a topical overview of current scholarly and policy discussions about sustainable entrepreneurship, and learn to analyse the social and ecological sustainability of current business practices. Based on individual learning interests, students are able to engage in real-life sustainability research, consultancy or start-up projects. They learn to identify practical challenges for developing sustainable business solutions, and to present their solutions to different stakeholders, such as entrepreneurs, civic society organizations and policy makers.

Content (valid 01.08.2018-31.07.2020): 

The course focuses on the promise of sustainable entrepreneurship to play a key role in the transition towards a more socially and ecologically responsible economy and society. A unique feature of the course design is that it complements lecture sessions with a strong emphasis on challenge-based learning in cooperation with real-life stakeholders (e.g. public institutions, civic society organizations, private enterprises). Students are able to integrate their personal interests and leverage their knowledge in sustainability by selecting between different actor-learning profiles (e.g. researcher, consultant, entrepreneur). The course concludes with the Sustainable Entrepreneurship Day, a yearly public event connecting Aalto students with the entrepreneurship ecosystem

Details on the course content (applies in this implementation): 


The course is designed to provide each student with a more personalized
learning experience by offering one of three approaches to understanding
sustainable entrepreneurship. The three profiles are (1) consultant for
sustainable venturing, (2) sustainable entrepreneurship researcher, and (3)
sustainability-oriented entrepreneur. These profiles will be the primary means
through which students apply their knowledge outside of the classroom.

Note: Students need to decide or will be
assigned to one actor profile at the latest by the end of Session 2 (26.02.2019).

A. Sustainability-oriented entrepreneur – A
private enterprise view

By choosing the entrepreneur profile, student groups will either (a)
work on a group member’s already existing venture, or on a venture idea, or (b)
FIND and work with an existing start-up to develop that venture.  In the first option, the group member’s
venture can be at any stage, and can have either a for-profit or non-profit
approach.  In the second option, students
are responsible for finding the start-up with which they would like to work for
the duration of the course. In either option, it is critical that the venture
either currently has a sustainability focus or is looking to head in that
direction.  Sustainability cannot be a tangential
aspect.  Importantly, in both cases, the primary instructor must agree that the
proposed venture is suitable for the content of this course.
This should
not be a problem, but it is best to identify potential problems as early as

Mentoring/coaching will be assigned for the teams depending on the focus
of the venture.

The essential focus of this track is developing a viable enterprise
incorporating sustainability. Deliverables will therefore focus on analyzing
and evaluating different models for incorporating sustainability into the
venture.  Key to this is ensuring there
is a viable value proposition for the venture. 
With that said however, it is also understood that developing a venture
takes time, so assessing deliverables will focus on the quality of analysis and
the process the team took. You needn’t have a perfect, or even anywhere near
perfect, idea. We want to see that there is progress on the idea, a
consideration of course materials, and well-grounded analysis. Results will be
shared with course participants and interested stakeholders on the Sustainable
Entrepreneurship Day.

B. Consultant for sustainable venturing – A view
through the public sector or NGOs

By choosing the consultant profile, student groups will act as
consultants for the City of Helsinki, or for The Shortcut. Sustainable
Entrepreneurship is critical to many of Helsinki’s goals, whether that be
integrating new immigrants, developing a circular economy for the purpose of
reducing plastic pollution in water, nurturing the nascent sustainable tourism
industry, using procurement contracts as a way of inducing social goals into
SMEs, or foster clean technology. Specifics of these projects (and others) will
be introduced during the first class. Mentoring/coaching for this track will be
undertaken by members of the City of Helsinki.

The Shortcut, a volunteer-based start-up ecosystem, helps people
discover and nurture their talents and aspirations to create or work for high
growth companies. The mission is to inspire and empower people from diverse
backgrounds to take an active role in (re)building their future, using
technology and entrepreneurship.  The
Shortcut is a non-profit sister organisation to SLUSH and Startup Sauna. Students
interested in working with The Shortcut will focus on organizing a novel event
Impact & Sustainability Sprint
– and evaluating how the event can be made better in subsequent years.
The Shortcut has a team focused on this event, and you will work closely with
them.  You will find that organizing the
event itself is an entrepreneurial undertaking. Moreover, you will learn more
about entrepreneurship through the content of the event.  Mentoring/coaching will be provided by The

Critically, given that this event
takes place on March 18-23rd, students interested in this project are
encouraged to contact the primary instructor at least one or two weeks ahead of
the start date of the course.

Moreover, students are also encouraged to volunteer with The Shortcut after the
actual event.

Overall, the focus of the consultant profile is to collect reliable information for addressing the challenges identified
by Helsinki or The Shortcut,
and writing up the main insights in form of a short consulting report. The
consultancy report has to include topics introduced in the course, such as the
evaluation of the sustainability opportunity, the market, cultural and legal
environment for starting a business, and the required practical steps for
implementation. The theoretical knowledge for conducting this assignment will
be provided in-class. The results will be shared and discussed with course
participants and interested stakeholders on the Sustainable Entrepreneurship

C. Sustainable entrepreneurship researcher – An
Academic View of Entrepreneurship in Africa

Entrepreneurship plays a critical role in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), as
there are very few other avenues for economic and social development. Because
of this, fostering ANY type of entrepreneurship in SSA helps improve
socioeconomic standings in direct and indirect ways; i.e. commercially focused
entrepreneurship IS a form of sustainable entrepreneurship.  Directly, greater economic engagement allows
access to healthcare, sufficient food, schooling for one’s children, and
effective housing, amongst other things. Indirectly, economic progression is
tied to better gender equity, less corruption, less conflict, and greater
adherence to democratic norms. 

Unsurprisingly then, many international organizations try to facilitate
entrepreneurship in sub-Saharan Africa. This has traditionally been through
microfinance, though more recently entrepreneur training programs have been
growing in scale. In this project you
will focus on the entrepreneur training programs.
Importantly, many of
these programs fail to actually foster entrepreneurship in the intended manner,
mainly because they do not appreciate how different entrepreneurship in SSA is
from that of the developed world. For instance, the world’s largest
entrepreneur training program is the International Labour Organization’s (ILO)
Start and Improve Your Business
(SIYB)programThis program has its roots in a program
developed in Sweden in the 1970s, and with VERY few exceptions, the social and institutional
makeup typical of SSA is vastly different from that of Sweden in the 1970s, or
at any time since; notably, entrepreneurship is an intensely social undertaking
in SSA, with elements normally provided by formal institutions in Sweden
instead running through social networks and social norms. Despite this, the ILO’s
SIYB has een little modified from the original foundations of the Swedish

With this in mind, there area two key components to the researcher track.
First, students will develop an understanding of the nature of entrepreneurship
in SSA.  This will be done through a set
of already transcribed interviews that Patrick has conducted of Ghanaian
microentrepreneurs. There are many different elements on which one might focus.
These interviews will be examined through a qualitative methodology.  Patrick will work with you to understand
qualitative analytical techniques, and to analyze the interviews. Second,
students will use this understanding to contrast the nature of
microentrepreneurship in SSA with the focus of the ILO’s SIYB. The goal will be
to provide recommendations on how the program may be improved. Through both of
these steps, students will follow the basic structure of an academic paper:
introduction, literature review, methodology, findings, discussion, and
conclusion.  You are expected to
formulate a research question, develop a theoretical frame, analyse the data,
and form brief conclusions.

The key deliverable for this track will follow the standard formatting
of an academic paper, or master’s thesis. 
Moreover, if there is interest, there is the opportunity to extend this
work into one’s master’s thesis work.

Assessment Methods and Criteria (valid 01.08.2018-31.07.2020): 

Written group assignment (50%)
Oral group assignment (20%)
Individual written assignment (30%)

Elaboration of the evaluation criteria and methods, and acquainting students with the evaluation (applies in this implementation): 



of Final Grade


Final Presentation on
Sustainable Entrepreneurship Day


Wednesday, April 3rd

Group report


Friday, April 12th, 23:59:59

       Interim Date: Status
Report I

(10% penalty if incomplete)

Sunday, March 12th, 12:00

       Interim Date: Status
Report II

(10% penalty if

Sunday, March 26th, 12:00

Individual Essay


Friday, April 12th, 23:59:59


A. Deliverables

The following are but brief overviews of the deliverable. Details will
be distributed in class.

1. Group report - 50%

Due Date: April 12th,
by 23:59:59

            The specific nature of this report
will vary depending on which track you choose, but in general it’s purpose is
to communicate a condensed version of the findings from your group work.  For the practitioner track this will
emphasize the venture development process you have gone through, how sustainability
matters for this venture, and the proposed plans for taking it forward. For the
consultant track, the report will emphasize the problem/situation/opportunity,
background information on it, options for how to proceed, and recommendations.
For the researcher track, the report will be in standard academic format:
introduction, literature review, methods, findings, discussion, and conclusion.

            This is a group report, and as such
there are high expectations for what is delivered, as there are 75 hours of
class time per person allocated to this task. 
In addition, it is expected that all group members contribute equally to
this project.  If any deviation from this
arises or seems likely to arise, then concerned group members are encouraged to
contact Patrick as early as possible.  Depending
on the situation and based on the instructors’ discretion, members’ grades for
group work (i.e. report and presentation) may be adjusted away from everyone
receiving the same grade.  It is hopeful
that this will not bee needed.

            Moreover, you are working with
real-world partners, and thus we must also ensure that what is produced is of
value for them.  We do not simply want to
take their time, but rather to provide something for them.

2. Final Presentation - 20%

Presentation date: April 3rd, as
part of Sustainable Entrepreneurship Day

            The final presentations will happen
as part of sustainable entrepreneurship day. 
It is not mandatory for all group members to speak during the
presentation, but it is mandatory for all to be present and to be ready to
answer questions.  A substantial part of
the grade for this deliverable will be based on how good the presentation is;
i.e. is it engaging, and does it tell a good story given the time
constraints.  Content will be important
here as well, but the depth of your work will be more thoroughly assessed as
part of the group report.

3. Individual Essay Assignment - 30%

Due Date: April 12th,
by 23:59:59

            In this deliverable, you will write
an essay on one of the topics covered in the course. The essay is different
from most academic work, in that it presents a uniquely normative
epistemological position; we want you to discuss your personal views and
opinions. There are three options for how to complete this:

1.     Embrace an idea from class and use it as a starting point for further
development; e.g. discuss how the role of the public sector in promoting
sustainable entrepreneurship may be enhanced.

2.     An idea presented in class is critically challenged, perhaps even
refuted; e.g. the public sector has no role in facilitating sustainable

3.     Combine options 1
and 2; e.g. there are some cases where the public sector can play a generative
role, but this role should be limited and the private sector needs to be emphasize.

In general, consider
this essay assignment as a tool for reflection that should support your own
learning journey (e.g. for approaching Master’s thesis theme).

A. Standard Assignment formatting

We will use the
standard formatting for the Academy of Management’s Journal:
The only modification we will make is to use A4 paper.  Be sure to follow the complete set of
formatting but pay special attention to:

·       Double-Spaced

·       Times New Roman 12pt font.

·       2.54cm margin

For more in-depth
information about standard formatting from a linguistic standpoint, please see
the standard widely used at Aalto: Style
Guide 2016_Aalto_BScBA Mikkeli.pdf

B. Group Formation

For group assignments, group formation is left
up to students.  We recommend pursuing
diversity in the group, as this will bring different view points into your
discussions, learning, and submitted assignments.  We reserve the right to modify groups to especially
ensure there exist a mix of disciplinary foci. You will use the same group for
all group components.

Group size parameters will be communicated after
enrollment is finalized. 

All group members are expected to contribute
equally to group assignments. In the case of group members who do not follow
this directive, we reserve the right to reduce your assignment grades, at our

C. Grading Policy

You are expected to submit all assignments (group and individual ones)
on time and before the respective deadline. If you do not submit any assignment
on time, your grade for that assignment will be reduced by 25% for each passing
day. For instance, if your submission is up to 1 day late (i.e. anything
between one minute to one day), you can get a maximum of 75% of the grade of
the assignment, up to two days a maximum of 50%, up to three days a maximum of
25%. You will no longer have an option to submit after three days have passed.

            If you miss a presentation without a
valid reason, you will receive a zero (0) for that portion of your grade.  A valid reason must be communicated at least 72
hours ahead of time to the primary instructor, as well as to all of your group
members.  If you have a valid reason for
missing the presentation, you will be able to complete a make-up assignment
organized by the instructors, which will mirror the deliverables of the
original presentation.


D. Grading Scale

Final grades will be on a scale from 0-5. Final grades will be
calculated from the results of the above listed assignments and allocated as
per the below table.

Final Grade

Overall Percentage













Workload (valid 01.08.2018-31.07.2020): 

24 h contact hours
136 h independent work

Details on calculating the workload (applies in this implementation): 



preparation (pre-readings for lectures)


(group work)


Assignments (individual)


Sustainable Entrepreneurship


Additional time allocated to
students’ learning leads



160h (6 ECTS)

Study Material (valid 01.08.2018-31.07.2020): 

A variety of articles on sustainability entrepreneurship. More detailed instructions will be provided in the course syllabus.

Course Homepage (valid 01.08.2018-31.07.2020):

Grading Scale (valid 01.08.2018-31.07.2020): 

0 (fail) to 5 (excellent)

Registration for Courses (valid 01.08.2018-31.07.2020): 

Registration via WedOodi ends 7 days before the period starts.

Further Information (valid 01.08.2018-31.07.2020): 

The course is open to all Aalto students. Priority is given to students in (1) MSc Entrepreneurship, (2) MSc Creative Sustainability, (3) CEMS, and (4) other Aalto BIZ Master’s programmes. Students can further develop their venture ideas initiated in other Aalto courses, such as 25E50000 Venture ideation or 21E10000 How to change the world.



Additional information for the course (applies in this implementation): 


Attending five out of seven (5/7) sustainable entrepreneurship sessions is
obligatory, or you will not get a grade on final report, making it exceedingly
difficult to pass the course.


Aalto University Code of Academic Integrity and Handling Thereof:


Registration to course: via Weboodi, closes one week before the start of
the course.

Retrieving Course Materials: all materials available through MyCourses

Group feedback will be provided as assignments are returned.

Details on the schedule (applies in this implementation): 

All classroom session run from 13:15-16:00 on
the noted date. They may be split up between topics though,.

The required readings/materials (noted in the
next sub-section) are due before every class.

1. Sustainable Entrepreneurship Topics – Must
attend 5/7 to get a grade on final project



Start Time



Mon, 25 Feb.


Towards a sustainable future: what entrepreneurship
means within the context of sustainable development.

Overview of course, presentation of “tracks” and


Tue, 26 Feb.


The classic entrepreneurial approach to sustainability. For profit, and
not for profit approaches will be taken.


Mon, 04 Mar.


Corporate intrapreneurship and sustainability


Tue, 05 Mar.


Using public policy to achieve sustainability through entrepreneurship.

Guest speakers from the City of Helsinki


Mon, 11 Mar.


Culture and Communities


Tue, 12 Mar.


Free Innovation, Finance and Alternative Economies

Guest speaker: Ville Luukkanen


Tue, 26 Mar.


Project Check-ins. Schedule a timeslot.

Optional Session: Monday, April 1st,
13:15-14:45, place TBD. For help with final preparation of projects and

Final Session: Wednesday, April 3rd
10:00-17:00 at the Design Factory as part of Sustainable Entrepreneurship Day

General Entrepreneurship Topics – Optional



Core Entrepreneurship Topic
(13:15-13:50) - Optional


Mon, 25 Feb.


None – full class is devoted to Sustainable


Tue, 26 Feb.

What is entrepreneurship, and how do we do it? – What
is the basic goal, what is the basic process, what does the growth process
look like?


Mon, 04 Mar.


Making an idea work: aligning the value
proposition with a market segment.


Tue, 05 Mar.

Entrepreneurial finance


Mon, 11 Mar.


None – full class is devoted to Sustainable


Tue, 12 Mar.



Tue, 26 Mar.

None – full class is devoted to Sustainable


Registration and further information