Some of the best startups were created when their founders dropped out of university. But Universitas Indonesia (UI) is trying to change this: launching a lab that will incubate good ideas from students and academics alike.

The lab is run by Dr Djoni Hartono, the University’s Director of Innovation and Business Incubator. His first step has been to map out UI’s research strengths, seeing how that ties in with potential business opportunities. Projects with the greatest commercial potential will get additional funding from the Ministry of Research, Technology and Higher Education.

The Ministry has provided IDR 250 million (US$18,500) to fund each project, but they will likely need at least IDR 500 million (US$37,000), Dr Hartono believes.

Academics will also be encouraged to work with startups to test their research findings and develop them into products, Hartono said. Here, the Director will be able to lead from the front: he is also an Associate Professor of Economics.

But the efforts aren’t limited to academics. Students need new skills to be successful, Hartono believes. The University plans to launch two courses on entrepreneurship and innovation next year. These courses will help graduates manage finances, market their products and compete against established companies.

Classes will be more hands-on than traditional ones, Dr Hartono added. Students will learn from experience in workshops, labs and even through mock pitching sessions to lecturers. This will be based in the University’s new Innovation and Entrepreneurship Centre, which launches next year.

Dr Hartono may need to do some pitching himself, to ensure that his budget grows to the value he hopes for. But the University is pioneering a new approach by funding research with commercial potential, encouraging academics to work with startups, and giving students the business skills they’ll need to start them.