Over 300 students from Europe, Africa, America and Asia came together for this year’s EIT Digital Master School Kickoff 2015 – being hosted in Eindhoven from October 22 to 24 by Eindhoven University of Technology and EIT Digital. The evaluation that has been sent out to all the participants results show that the event was highly appreciated. The event was evaluated by 169 respondents, and 93 % rated the event with ‘very good’ to ‘excellent’.
On the 1st day, Johanna Gavefalk, EIT Digitals’ Communications Director, set the scene and welcomed the audience with an animated video showing the core values of this year’s Master School Kickoff: Create, Innovate, Inspire, Connect, Digitalise, Explore!
Appetizer to innovation and entrepreneurship
The Kickoff 2015 is the start of students’ two-year programme of study at their choice of two universities selected from a list of 20 leading European institutions in nine countries. The two and a half day event focused on getting to know each other and working together in student's group challenges with links to industry and introductions to the Innovation & Entrepreneurship aspects of the Masters programme.
Willem Jonker, CEO of EIT Digital said: “We want to help create the next generation of entrepreneurs who will drive innovation - whether that’s in roles in large corporates and research institutes or adding to the growing community of digital start-ups based in Europe. It’s important that we nurture talent in order to help fill the skills gaps we know exist in this sector, and to remain competitive internationally. We want our students to have robust technical skills but also be flexible, creative and innovative to compete and succeed in a dynamic global market.”
As a key part of the event programme, students were challenged to work together under time pressure to develop and then pitch innovative ideas on stage. New this year was the preparatory on-line assignment on entrepreneurship that the students could do prior to the kickoff, to levelling their knowledge for the student challenge. According to the Innovation and Entrepreneurship coordinators of the Eindhoven University of Technology, the on-line assignment was used by most of the students. One of the students said: “I like the business challenge and concept of helping students to create networking among themselves. From there we came to know about our exit universities profs and students as well as their cultures.”
The 300, international first year students were spread over 32 teams to solve the business cases and crack it with innovative and creative business solutions. The 32 teams were coached by second year students and graduates who were prepared for the job by professional I&E coaches. To give the student coaches back up in tackling issues that came up instantly, the professionals hovered above the student coaches to help them in their work. On top of this, at the second day, Eindhoven business accelerators and business angel could be consulted by the student teams in a speed date manner for a big hour. Indeed the student teams had to queue up, but waiting for it was worth it.
The student teams were very eager to be the best one but at the end there could only be 1 winner. Chosen by the audience through a voting app, the winner was: ‘Friends for flights!’ One of the winners said: “Winning the challenge, getting so much positive feedback about our ideas, having had such a lovely, supportive and hardworking group with which we will stay in touch :)”
One of the highlights next to The Challenge, was the keynote of the CEO Willem Jonker. He spoke to the students and addressed the feeling that being part of the unique EIT Digital Master School, gives one the opportunity to meet and team up with a whole community. One of the students said: “I LOVE the keynote from Willem Jonker! I want to be able to deliver a speech like he does, one day.”
Other highlights were the showcases of the EIT Digital summer schools, the presentation of the Alumni foundation and Professor Will van der Aalst taking the time on Saturday morning to give a very accessible lecture on Data Science.
As a side track, there was also time for some relaxation planned by the performance of a flash mob dance in which the students passionately participated.
The Kickoff 2015 brought a tremendous vibe of creativity and co-creation at the team tables. It was amazing to watch the student volunteers that worked as crew to guide the newcomers logistically and the coaches who supervised the way of working and team process during the Challenge. According a student tweet the kickoff appeared to be: “a mind blowing experience”. Local team and international marcom team worked together in getting the job done with special attention for Johanna Gavefalk, the EIT Digital Communications Director, who moderated and carried the Kickoff with love, for the full 2,5 days! Sometimes the pieces of a puzzle come together in a perfect fit.
What did students say on what was most beneficiary of the Kickoff 2105:
“The event provides me some insight about the EIT Digital's goals and start up related knowledge. Also, I have more friends from other countries. Hope that we can build a network of startups in the future.”
“Meeting new people over a challenge.. sharing our ideas and putting along for a defined goal.”
“The track meeting and getting to know all the students in my same major.”
“Learn how to be a team player, meet and network with new people, understand the core value of EIT Digital.“
“I really liked the business challenge, it got me into the right mindset. Also just seeing how much you care about us made me feel really like part of the EIT Digital family, so I am really excited to go to the summer school now.”
“It was a great experience. Great organisation and an oportunity to meet cool people from all around the world that are interested in digital and start-ups. So I think it has been a very enriching experience.”
Application portals for Master School places for the 2016/17 academic year are open:
>> Study portals effective 1 November
>> Portal on EIT Digital Master School website, effective 15 November
EIT Digital also runs a Doctoral School and a Professional School which provide a programme of learning for digital entrepreneurs and IT professionals throughout their careers.