The eighth edition of the Ideation Camp went online last month, hosting the brightest minds of the University of Luxembourg and a student delegation from Miami University. Participants had an opportunity to work in interdisciplinary and intercontinental teams while being supported by international industry leaders.
The opening ceremony on 27 April saw 39 different ideas pitched by participants, followed by the vote where the top ideas were selected and teams of 4-5 participants were formed around each of them. Erica Monfardini, Director of Administration and Finance at the University of Luxembourg, greeted participants, mentors and guests with a welcome note: “It is an honour for me to be a part of this initiative. Ideation Camp is extremely challenging so you need to stay strong and learn resilience but it is going to boost your soft skills and the qualities which will be precious for you when you are going to look for a job, when you need to work in teams and to inspire others”.
The next three days and nights, teams were working on the market research and business plan for their commercial ideas, supported by one dedicated full-time mentor each aka Guardian Angels. As oppose to Ideation Camp 7 which only had three Guardian Angels, this edition hosted five to provide the participants with maximum support throughout the event: business development expert and founder of Spoticle Brice Dondelinger, public speaking expert and founder of Verbalius Pedro Castilho, start-up growth strategist Rashmi Vittal, sales and marketing consultant Ruchi Jaju, start-up bootcamp expert and serial entrepreneur Shai Haim.
“This was my first experience with the Ideation Camp,” – comments Ruchi Jaju. “What stood out for me in the course of the event was the fact that students were very receptive to working with each other while understanding the strengths and weaknesses of every individual. Having experienced the corporate environment myself, I know how important it is to get the synergies right with your colleagues. Ideation Camp is a great example of providing an on-job experience to all the participants and it could not get more real than this. It not only prepares the participants to enter into entrepreneurship but also prepares them for the corporate world. Ideation Camp is a great platform to learn how to manage teams and conflicts, exercise your mind in different directions and come with the best possible solution, stay focused, and practice agile decision-making. Textbook knowledge can be gained anytime but dealing with people and challenging situations is what Ideation Camp prepares you for”.
The closing ceremony on 1 May featured nine impressive pitches, covering diverse business ideas in GreenTech, Social, FoodTech and other industries. All the pitches received very good feedback from the Jury: Head of Partnerships and Ecosystem at LHoFT Alex Panican, Vice-Rector for Academic Affairs at the University of Luxembourg Catherine Léglu, Erica Monfardini and Managing Partner of Elite Circle and Manager at SES Simone La Torre.
“I have now acted as a judge for the fourth time on the Ideation Camps,” – comments Catherine Léglu. “Two were in person, and two have been online. Nothing can replace the excitement of an in-person event but the online alternative allowed students to benefit more from detailed interactions with their mentors, and it also permitted well-earned, regular breaks throughout the week. There are advantages to both approaches. I enjoy seeing the creative and resourceful solutions that our students are finding for the challenges of today. The Ideation Camp is an excellent transversal addition to our University programmes. Students learn to work in teams, to share and to prioritise ideas, and to work out how to identify a need, how to propose an answer for that need, and, finally, how to identify (or even to create) the market for that answer! This is a big set of objectives for a few-days-long event but they always manage to produce something for the panel of judges to consider. We require our Bachelor students to spend at least one semester on mobility abroad during their studies, and it is clear to me that a week spent on developing a new idea for a business or an initiative is another good example of the ways in which we develop our students’ experiences and ambitions (for Bachelor, Master, and PhD students alike)”.
The winner of the Ideation Camp 8 is NexPerience team formed by the students from both universities: Aymeric Le Drezen from the University of Luxembourg, Kyle McCorvey, and Max Rattner from Miami University, Myriam Merz and Yacine Abbas from the University of Luxembourg.
“Signing up for Ideation Camp, I was very excited to leave my comfort zone of biomedical sciences and put my translational skills to the test,” – says Myriam Merz. “When I first saw the timeline for the 3 days, I felt apprehensive about my qualifications and the merit I could bring to my team. After the groups were formed, I felt more at ease. We exchanged ideas, thoughts, and knowledge without restrictions and at a fast pace. It was invigorating and exhausting at the same time. Whenever we felt stuck, our Guardian Angel (Brice Dondelinger) gave us a nudge in the right direction and when we felt confident, he encouraged us to do even better. Getting a lot of different inputs from mentors and organisers did feel overwhelming at times but we evolved as a group and stayed true to our goals. I am glad to have taken on this challenge because it showed me the real value of my skills and strengths. I am also truly grateful to have met my amazing teammates who, with all their skills and passion, were truly inspiring. Winning the Ideation Camp was an added bonus but the real value was to see how much we could achieve within the timeframe and how to leverage the most from individual strengths”.
Glenn Platt, Director of Armstrong Institute for Emerging Technologies at Miami University, commented: “We were eager to get our students involved in Ideation Camp for a number of reasons: to meet fellow University of Luxembourg students who share their passion for entrepreneurship, to learn more about the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Luxembourg and to network with and meet the mentors and Guardian Angels. We expected our students to be challenged by the top-notch mentoring and domain expertise of their fellow team members. We expected the experience to be enlightening about how entrepreneurship in Luxembourg is both similar and different from the United States. Our expectations were not only met but exceeded. Our students had an incredible experience”.
“I am impressed by the level of the projects presented at this Ideation Camp,” – returns Erica Monfardini. “This underlines the importance of these events, and of how useful they are to boost the competences of our students and to prepare them for their future career”.