The Front End of Innovation (FEI) in the context of entrepreneurship education

  • Ariane Rodrigues Pereira CAPES Foundation, Ministry of Education of Brazil, Brasilia-DF
  • João José Pinto Ferreira Faculty of Engineering, University of Porto, Department of Industrial Engineering and Management, Institute for Systems and Computer Engineering, Technology and Science – INESC TEC
  • Alexandra Lopes Faculty of Arts, University of Porto, Department of Sociology


Entrepreneurship is a key component for answering the need for creating and strengthening businesses. The expected results of entrepreneurial activities are the creation of jobs and innovative firms. Therefore, entrepreneurship education plays a vital role in engaging students in the systematic practice of innovation. An entrepreneur committed to a management role has a significant perspective to innovation and entrepreneurship endeavor, both tasks demanding a management practice for creating change. In this context, the Front End of Innovation (FEI) plays a critical role. However, this is a challenging phase for entrepreneurs and companies as the FEI demands a variety of activities and approaches, necessary to overcoming the risks entailed in a new concept development, which hopefully will be unfolded as a new product or service, or even a business. The literature reflects this situation, with a variety of FEI approaches and works. This study builds on the results of research that aimed at overcoming this issue by proposing the FEI Integrative Ontology (FEI2O). This paper details the manner by which the FEI Integrative Ontology offers an appropriate novel conceptual model for entrepreneurship education providing a cross-analysis of the FEI2O and the Content Standards for Entrepreneurship Education considering the “Entrepreneurial Process” that is part of the “Entrepreneurial Skills” section of the standard. Therefore, it explores the benefits of adopting the FEI2O canvas to support innovation projects in the classroom, and ultimately the management of the FEI. Lastly, the work evaluates the FEI2O answers for FEI Critical Success Factors, such as strategy, resources, processes, climate and leadership. Given the clear relationship between the subset of skills required for entrepreneurship education and the concepts handled at the front-end of innovation, our results demonstrate that the in-depth understanding of the FEI ontology could help entrepreneurship educators to enrich entrepreneurship and management skills by the use of an organized body of knowledge. In sum, this comprehensive tool is helpful to translate into action the management of the FEI contributing as a novel approach to education for entrepreneurship.