20-year-old Proakatemia believes in joint learning and entrepreneurship
Studying in Proakatemia takes place by working in a team enterprise together with other team entrepreneurs. Students establish real enterprises in which they learn teamwork, marketing and management skills by combining theory and practice.
The experiment began in 1999 and has since become a success story. This autumn Proakatemia will celebrate its 20-year anniversary in a big way together with students, alumni and cooperation partners. This group consists of hundreds of like-minded people and inspiring stories.
According to Head Coach Veijo Hämäläinen, Proakatemia staff and students are above all connected by entrepreneurial attitude which includes seeing opportunities, tolerating uncertainty, helping others and working hard.
“All succeed in some challenging situations which at first seem impossible. The experiences help to understand that you do not need to manage by yourself and helping others is no skin off your nose. The entrepreneurial attitude creates forward-driving strength which also seizes interest groups and visitors,” Hämäläinen tells.
Community gives courage
Proakatemia’s first team enterprise Villivisio was established in autumn 1999. In 2018 the combined revenue of team enterprises exceeded 1.2 million euros. During the past years Proakatemia has become an internationally interesting higher education learning model.
“More than thousand international visitors come to Proakatemia every year. The team learning concept is also one of TAMK’s education export products.”
In Hämäläinen’s opinion, Proakatemia is a community based on strong trust. It enables cooperation and contacts in very different situations, from working life to leisure.
“The community gives courage. Courage enables such experimenting and learning which would not be possible alone. In teams, failures do not feel so bad and on the other hand it is especially valuable to succeed together.”
In the continuously changing world and hard competition, courage and curiosity give the possibility to succeed as an entrepreneur. This can be seen in the everyday life of Proakatemia and among alumni.
Enthusiasm as resource
Third-year student and team entrepreneur Salla Vaittinen tells that for her studying at Proakatemia means freedom to study exactly what she wants.
“When there are no detailed contents, you have to find out yourself what you want to learn and what you are really interested in. I especially like the fact that in a group we can exceed our own thinking and surprise. It is great to see how the ability to get down to business and see possibilities grows as the studies progress,” Vaittinen tells.
She tells about the growth of her team enterprise’s revenue as a visible result. In Vaittinen’s opinion, enthusiasm is a resource that needs to be nurtured.
Pekka Ylikojola, who graduated from Proakatemia in 2012, works actively in the alumni association, which organises for example open alumni workshops and offers mentors to people searching for them.
“It is always great to hear how alumni go and infect new team entrepreneurs with the attitude and what cooperation and growth stories are created together.”
According to Ylikojola, all alumni communities have a lot of unused possibilities related to people’s skills, experiences and networks.
Coaches’ work interests
Veijo Hämäläinen started as a coach in Proakatemia 15 years ago.
“Coaches’ work was a bit suspicious then and many thought the work only suited foolhardy persons. Luckily the case is not so anymore. I meet people weekly and am contacted by people who are interested in team coaches’ work. We receive plenty of applications to vacancies,” he tells.
Proakatemia offers coaches the possibility to learn together with students and business life. Versatile interaction and the possibility to apply the learnt in different situations also empower and motivate the coaches.
“The communality of Proakatemia is something what most coaches have not experienced before. It is unusual in higher education institutions to really work together for a common goal and help others.”
- Established in 1999
- Learning environment in Finlayson area in the centre of Tampere
- 39 team enterprises
- Typical team enterprise size is 15-23 persons
- Team enterprises’ revenue was 1.2 million euros in 2018
- More than thousand international visitors from around the world in 2018
- 37 % of graduates work as entrepreneurs
- Graduates’ degree title is Bachelor of Business Administration
Further information: Head Coach Veijo Hämäläinen, Proakatemia, veijo.hamalainen [at] tuni.fi (), tel. 040 716 9059
In the photo: celebration of 19-year-old Proakatemia a year ago, Photo: Petteri Hentilä