EIT InnoEnergy is making a direct impact on Europe’s clean energy transition by fostering student’s entrepreneurial ambitions. One of the cutting-edge programmes being used to achieve this is the Entrepreneurship Journey – which motivates students from the Master’s in Energy for Smart Cities (EFSC) that want to be entrepreneurs and allows them to increase the probability of their success in a highly competitive market. And the methodologies behind this innovative programme are being Internationally recognised by IEEE – the world’s largest technical professional organisation for the advancement of technology!
This April in Dubai, IEEE held their annual globally acclaimed education conference for engineering programmes – EDUCON. They hosted leaders in the education field including representatives of the programme, who presented papers highlighting the techniques used to accelerate the entrepreneurial path of students. The Entrepreneurship Journey – parallel activities organised as part of this MSc programme – was in the spotlight, and aligned perfectly with the conference’s theme of “engineering education through student engagement”.
Designed to take students from innovation to entrepreneurship and beyond, the Entrepreneurship Journey is the second part of the MSc ESFC two-year experience. The first part of the programme is the Innovation Journey where students explore the market, opportunities, techniques and tools to create a prototype – so they can plan and present an actual business model. This second part, the Entrepreneurship Journey, encourages students that want to take their idea to the next level – business creation. Those ready for this challenge (and have had their start-up proposal accepted) will hone their entrepreneurial skills as they are supported to go from concept to business plan to prototype and then finally to pitch presentation. This safe and controlled environment is the perfect incubator to help reduce the high initial failure risks that most start-ups face and prepares them for a more successfully entrepreneurship outset.
Both journeys carry students to three major European innovation and entrepreneurship hubs: Barcelona, Antwerp and Amsterdam. This info graphic illustrates how the initial idea is continuously worked to refine it to the most realistic start-up proposal possible.
The journey is also about getting out of your comfort zone. As a group of current EFSC students found out when they were selected to participate in the finals of Cleantech Camp, a training program aimed at business ideas or companies in the initial phase for the clean energy sector. Their start-up – Power Block will enable every citizen to be a part of the energy transition by developing clean energy assets within communities, and connecting energy companies with citizens. Without having graduated themselves, these students will compete against already established start-ups for funding to further develop their company from InnoEnergy.
One of the co-founders, Farhan Farrukh, explains how the Entrepreneurship Journey has prepared him for this exciting task: “I’ve experienced an immense learning curve in the programme while gaining an entrepreneurial mindset, and it’s an overwhelming opportunity for me to be part of some of finest entrepreneurs in Europe. Taking our place among the top finalists and learning from amazing coaches from prestigious institutes, companies and public institutions is incredible. Creating a new business is a unique challenge, but having the name and support of InnoEnergy helps a lot in getting the right meetings and the coaching you need.”
The EFSC programme has been the birthplace of many lucrative start-up ideas and entrepreneurs. For example, graduate Simone Accornero who co-founded the successful FLEXIDAO in Spain. He shared how the programme shaped his thinking and encouraged him to take advantage of business opportunities: “At the core of what we do at InnoEnergy, there is an imperative to find how your work will have real impact on our environment. The idea is that you not only develop your technical skills and knowledge; you also acquire the business understanding and tools to exploit market opportunities.”
The latest acknowledgement at the 2019 EDUCON is not the first time that the MSc Energy for Smart Cities programme has been recognised for its innovative methodologies. In the past, articles have highlighted the win-win situations created for both students and energy sector companies; resulting in internships, master thesis and job proposals, as well as creating entrepreneurship initiatives among the students themselves. The Entrepreneurship Journey emphasises all the essential entrepreneurial aspects, e.g. action taking, value creation, and the employment of creative business tools. All of which foster an entrepreneurial ‘expert logic’ that can be a part of their recipe for a successful start-up.
As the Entrepreneurship Journey enters its third year, the results clearly illustrate that the programme works. Aside from the handful of actual start-ups that were created, the majority of the students say that they will continue on the path of creating a start-up – with a focus on the essential value creation, above and beyond any technical solution.
Would you like to make an impact and learn from some of the smartest cities in Europe? Don’t miss your chance to join the Master’s in Energy for Smart Cities. Download the brochure for more information.