AMIS Summer School – a week of innovation, concept creation and entrepreneurship
The Advanced Materials for Innovation and Sustainability (EIT Raw Materials) summer school welcomed 18 students from partner universities in France and Germany to Aalto University for an intensive, one-week training of user-centric technology innovation and product development.
Part of the minor studies in Innovation and Entrepreneurship for AMIS students, the summer school brings all the first-year students in the master’s program together to experience learning quite unlike the technical training in their major studies.
Based mostly on interactive teaching, hands-on training and teamwork, with only some lectures and presentations, the summer school introduced the participants to the methods of business ideation, concept creation, validation, and presentation. Emphasis was put on communication, group work and practicing persuasive presentation skills - without forgetting the technical content of the course, which this year was centered around building- and product integrated photovoltaics. The students also conducted user research at Helsinki Fashion Week, met interesting companies there, and had time for networking and getting familiar with the Aalto startup scene.
Before joining the summer camp, the students had familiarized themselves with a selected emerging photovoltaic technology and a case company commercialising it. On the first day of the camp, they generated new concept ideas from this technical background, addressing thematic challenges, such as energy-autonomous electronics or sustainable production of clean energy and food in urban environment, while trying out different idea generation techniques.
The second day of the camp was reserved for a visit to Helsinki Fashion Week: public talks on entrepreneurship organized by Aalto Ventures Program and conducting a user survey interviewing participants of the event. The next day the students joined a workshop listening to expert presentations on building- and product-integrated photovoltaics technologies, and were able to refine their value proposition based on user research conducted the day before.
Entering complex markets with emerging technologies was the topic of the second last day, along with developing further the concept and value proposition, and preparing a validation of the concept with potential customers in their domestic market.
“The students seemed to enjoy the most the freedom they had in developing their own ideas, and the user-centered thinking for technology development, which was a new perspective to many of them”, says University Lecturer Janne Halme, from the Department of Applied Physics, who organized the summer course this year. “I must also say that the engaging and fun communication training was a clear hit”, Janne adds.
Every student got to practice public speaking in a welcoming environment, getting support from others and direct guidance from the trainer Dr. Christa Uusi-Rauva, a University Lecturer from the Aalto University School of Business. This training came to good use when the students pitched their team’s idea to others on a forest trail in the Nuuksio national park, followed by clarifying their idea with a plunge into a nearby lake. “They swam a lot that week, with or without sauna”, laughs Janne.
Ten of the summer school student will join Aalto the coming autumn for their studies that are part of the double-degree master’s programme. “I am looking forward to exploring more concepts of Sustainopreneurship and Materials Science to build up the skills developed during the summer school – hopefully, helping me to become a successful entrepreneur”, says Monish Rajkumar, who is one of the AMIS students coming to Aalto.
Read more about the Master’s Programme in Advanced Materials for Innovation and Sustainability (AMIS) of EIT Raw Materials, and follow the programme admission page for more information on the next application period.
Text: Silja Kaurala, Janne Halme