Liveblog for ICM829: Cluster Symposium @Aalto 11/29

Discovery, Good News, Teaching

On 29 November, Aalto University, Finland, is hosting the Cluster Symposium on integrating entrepreneurship into engineering education. The symposium is  also an event in the Finland 100 years independence celebrations.

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This is a liveblog for the course ICM829 – Design Thinking (St. John’s University) on the symposium.  I will focus on issues and insights that are relevant to a variety of fields of innovation.  (Note the use of “Lightning Talks“, a non-branded form of Ignite Talks,  as an academic format.)


The second liveblog on Friday 12/1 will feature the startup event Slush. Meanwhile, if interested, tap into the Slush Live Stream!

  • Note that Slush innovation pitches have already begun today (“Slush 100”) and you may be awake to livestream some.
  • The official program starts tomorrow, on Thursday 11/30 and you can livestream it as well! Slush Live Stream will cover the whole stage program: Slush has four stages with  talks by names like Al Gore, Martin Lau (Tencent),  Cal Henderson (Slack), Adena Friedman (Nasdaq), Marc Pincus (Zynga), and more.  Each stage has its own stream so you can choose which one to follow according to your interest. If not sure, the Highlights stream features Slush staff favorite picks from the stage program mixed with exclusive backstage interviews.
  • Here’s the link to the stream everything.

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Cluster Symposium Program 11/29:

9:00 – 9:10

Helsinki EET

Opening and welcome by Cluster President Ilkka Niemelä, President of Aalto University
9:10 – 9:40 Keynote: Professor Thomas Hellmann, Saïd Business School, Oxford University, UK
9:50 – 12:00 Case: Integrating entrepreneurial capabilities into engineering/technology curricula (presented by Aalto & Grenoble INP), chair Kalle Airo


12:00 – 12:15 Wrap-up of the morning session, Kalle Airo, Aalto Ventures Program
13:15 – 13:45 Keynote: Humera Fasihuddin, Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (d-school), Stanford University, USA

(Introduction of keynote speaker by Vice President Eero Eloranta, Aalto University)

14:00 – 14:40

14:50 – 15:30

Lightning talks: Integration of entrepreneurship into engineering education teaching cases (10 min/talk) chaired by Kalle Airo

14:00 – 14:40

  • Professors Benoît Marcq, Université Catholique Louvain: From Innovation to Technology Transfer: Active learning tracks for students in engineering schools and beyond
  • Mr. Alexander Tittel, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology: Designing a Technology Push Approach for research-based ventures
  • Ms. Marisol Velasco Montañez, Eindhoven University of Technology: Integrating entrepreneurial learning into an innovation space

14:50 – 15:30

  • Professor Yolande Berbers, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven: Leuven Community for Innovation-driven Entrepreneurship
  • Vice Rector (External Affairs) Lilya Kiryanova, Tomsk Polytechnic University: Rehabilitation engineering: bridging engineers, entrepreneurs and individuals with disabilities
  • Professor Dr. Peter Buxmann, Technical University of Darmstadt: Entrepreneurial Teaching in a Technical University – Vision and Teaching Case
16:00 – 17:00 Panel Discussion  (panel members: Thomas Hellmann, Humera Fasihuddin, Ken Singer, Paul Savage, Kalle Airo). Facilitated by Olli Vuola, Head of Aalto Ventures Program
17:00 – 17:30 Wrap up of the day, Vice President Eero Eloranta, Programme Manager Kalle Airo and Katrina Nordström, Cluster Secretary General

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Ilkka Niemelä, President of Aalto University: “Aalto top 7 in all new universities in the world. – Entrepreneurial skills will be crucial in the future of our students. The theme of the centennial celebration of Finland. The theme is “together” – that is what entrepreneurship education should be, done together.”

2017-11-29 09.04.00

2.Catalysing entrepreneurship in and around universities

Thomas Hellmann, Saïd Business School, Oxford University, UK

2017-11-29 09.14.26

“We are in the 2nd wave of entrepreneurship:

  • Now teaching mission instead of research mission.
  • All levels from undergrad to postgrad.
  • All fields from humanities to business.”

2017-11-29 09.15.50

There is a funnel of entrepreneurial education:

  1. Inspiration from speakers, lectures
  2. Engagement from more concrete education
  3. Accelerator-phase, mentoring actual ventures (for- or non-profit)


Entrepreneurial education ecosystem:

2017-11-29 09.24.38

University role models for entrepreneurial education:

  • MIT: DEcentralized, a variety of entrepreneurial programs. The challenge: coordination.
  • Stanford: d-school; StartX. The blurring boundaries between the university and the outside world.
  • Aalto: One of leaders in Europe, because of the merger of 3 universities in 2010 (University of Tech, School of Economics, and University of Industrial Arts and Design).
  • Ryerson Digital Media Zone (Toronto). Not a research university but differentiating themselves with space.
  • Creative Destruction Lab Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto. Creme de la creme of the Canadian entrepreneurial ecosystem mentoring students. “The best university accelerator”.
  • Oxford: Technology transfer office. Re: the 2nd wave = student-led innovation; Oxford Entrepreneurs (Europe’s largest student entrepreneurship organization). Oxford Foundry: Student-led innovation = 2nd wave. The fact that this can happen in such a traditionally oriented setting is sign of the times.

Systemic challenges: INTERNAL

  • Entrepreneurship as a word is polarizing: some students reject “business”.
  • Beliefs about the role of the university: “not to train entrepreneurs”
  • Control of student-led initiatives – who governs?
  • How egalitarian should we be? Inspire everyone vs. back your winners?

Systemic support needed: PUBLIC POLICY

  • Clarify student Intellectual Property (IP)
  • Technology transfer
  • Skills training
  • Students (loans etc.)
  • Policy to support investors and corporations to support entrepreneurial education
  • Such different gov’t agencies relate to entrepreneurial education – how to engage with different ones?

2017-11-29 09.50.18

3. Workshop on Entrepreneurial Education in Engineering

Perhaps relevant to SJU CPS: How to assess the needs and opportunities of a college/university in terms of entrepreneurial education?



4. Keynote

Humera Fasihuddin, Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (d-school), Stanford University, USA, on undergrad engineering education and entrepreneurship, reporting on an NSF grant project “Innovation Fellows”.

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The world is changing rapidly. Wicked problems need to be solved. Skills needed are:

  1. Observation
  2. Questioning
  3. Challenging the status quo
  4. Diverse networking
  5. Experimenting

We need prototyping mindset, and not just for products, also about life. Shift from knowledge to skills and mindset:


5 BIG ideas:

  1. Broaden the idea of success beyond $. Social impact.
  2. Fall in love with the impact entrepreneurial ideas have in the students. The method is not important. Design Thinking is one great method. But Service Learning may create great entrepreneurs as well.
  3. Reach all students in all disciplines.
  4. Do things differently. Faculty and students as collaborators, co-workers.
  5. Obsess about creativity and creative cultures. Faculty needs to engage in supportive, not competitive culture! “Make others look good, that will make you look good” = collaboration and cooperation, support is the way to entrepreneurship education and its success. “This Stanford NSF program is the proof = one of the best impact indicators NSF has ever witnessed in educational/pedagogy change.”

2017-11-29 13.31.34

PS: Question: How to scale entrepreneurial ideas and mindsets horizontally, i.e., from tech and biz disciplines to others. Answer: “Be mindful of the language you use. Get rid of the term entrepreneurship. Lead with the issue and the idea.”

5.Lighting Talks

2017-11-29 14.03.32Professors Benoît Marcq, Université Catholique Louvain: From Innovation to Technology Transfer: Active learning tracks for students in engineering schools and beyond

  • Innovation courses as separate courses; entrepreneurship track.
  • Globalization = global studies are a must. If our lab isn’t the best we send our students to see labs and innovation all around the world.
  • Spaces matter, e.g., cafes and restaurants where different students and faculty can meet and innovate.
  • For creativity, one needs methods (e.g., Design Thinking; other user-centric methods).
  • Teach students to ask the right questions!


Ms. Marisol Velasco Montañez, Eindhoven University of Technology: Integrating entrepreneurial learning into an innovation space

The needs that an innovation space needs to fulfill:

2017-11-29 14.30.49


Professor Yolande Berbers, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven: Leuven Community for Innovation-driven Entrepreneurship2017-11-29 14.49.14

  • For-credit course without lectures and specific structure to “give students TIME to innovate and do their own project”.
  • Basic criteria for such a project to be accepted: (1) Research and understand the stakeholders! (human-centered; users…) (2) Gain some resources! (Funding and/OR expertise…)




6. Panel Discussion

Thomas Hellmann, Humera Fasihuddin, Ken Singer, Paul Savage, Kalle Airo. Facilitated by Olli Vuola, Head of Aalto Ventures Program.

2017-11-29 16.06.29

  • Entrepreneurship education is a “catchall”: it is such a broad discipline and requires so many skills that it gives students of all disciplines an idea what they are “missing” from their education.
  • Entrepreneur education = even more about changing mindsets than developing skillsets!
  • Entrepreneurship as a word needs revising. What is needed is that we need to take the elements of entrepreneurial mindset and apply the principles (exploration, experimentation, planning, sustainability…) in other disciplines.
  • How much disruption can an educational institution take before it breaks? We have the notion that academia has the answers. Has it?
  • Research vs. teaching. Research is there and can inform innovation, be the basis of entrepreneurship. But what we need is a revolution in teaching: not to push knowledge but be guides in the learning[-by-doing] process.
  • What’s the difference between vocational and academic teaching/learning? The world has changed so radically that every student, at every level, needs experiences; they get to see “the real cycle”.
  • Good to remember: Many theories inform our understanding; ontology and epistemology. But: research universities were born in the time of scarcity of information. Now we are in different situation.
  • Danger of the “old” or “ranking” model (“vocational seen as lesser than academic”): Biz and engineering schools are trying to gain academic credibility (and rankings) by academic/theoretical work; sometimes without any practical business praxis background/education.
  • How to assess project-based learning and entrepreneurial ideas? How do students learn? How do they apply? How do they feel about what they learned (self-reflection)?
  • How to assess impact? Track alumni, tell stories.



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