Biarritz, France – November 30, 2023
In the spring of 2023, a delegation from Savonia visited the University of Mondragon in Spain and the ESTIA Institute of Technology in France. The aim was to negotiate a framework for cooperation between the three universities. As a result, it was agreed that the first Winter School of the European Dual Studies University Alliance (EU4DUAL) would take place in November 2023 in Bidart, France. If the event can be summarised in one sentence, it will be this one: 4 days, 3 partners, 70 students, 7 multidisciplinary teams, 4 training pills, 2 experts guidance, and 7 potential projects.
That’s how, from 20 to 24 November, 70 students from these institutions actively participated in the Innovation Week on the theme of Product Design: From product/service idea to funding. The group consisted of business, engineering and design students at master and bachelor level. Prior to the intensive week of study, participants engaged online to receive assignments and make initial connections. The students were organised into multicultural and multidisciplinary teams, each led by Finnish representatives.
Their collective task was to create an innovation within three days and pitch it to a group of investors. The spark for these innovations was a customer problem related to mountain sports, initiated by a real company and presented by the Spanish students. While the teams received some guidance on the innovation process, the bulk of the challenge was left to the teams. Thus, the Winter School adopted a team learning pedagogical approach.
The teams came up with new solutions, such as bike racks for vehicles, search and rescue locators, and smart outdoor footwear and textiles. Following the presentations, the investors gave feedback and asked questions, recognising the remarkable effort made by all the teams despite the demanding schedule and cultural differences.
The feedback from the students was very positive. The intensive 24-hour innovation exercise proved to be an effective and productive way of learning and practising the innovation process. The diverse backgrounds of the students facilitated cross-disciplinary learning and allowed for the full development of ideas from both technical and business perspectives. The diverse mix of ages, professional experience and cultures was seen as a valuable asset.
The success of the first Winter School has cemented plans for further collaboration. Next year’s rendezvous will take place in Spain, hosted by Mondragon University. The Winter School concept represents an agile approach to fostering collaboration between students, academics and industry, which is directly aligned with the visionary goals of the EU4DUAL Alliance. It also provides an invaluable opportunity for students to immerse themselves in innovation and internationalisation at the same time, enriching their knowledge and experience.
To discover the testimonies of the participating students and professors, watch this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2gh9jbyP1hU