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How The Ideation Camp Event Series Is Awakening Students’ Entrepreneurial Mindset

Ideation Camp is an intensive 72 hours hands-on entrepreneurial training workshop organized by the University of Luxembourg Entrepreneurship Programme and Incubator which happens twice a year since 2017. In over six editions, Ideation Camp saw 550 registrations and 265 participants supported by a total of 234 mentors.

Photo: More and more students want to create their entrepreneurial project during the Ideation Camp / Credits © University of Luxembourg Incubator and Entrepreneurship Programme

While being promoted as a student focused workshop, Ideation Camp is anything but a typical university event. Here you can meet the future leader of the society. Let’s take a historical detour to understand the roots of Ideation Camp.

“In 2017, we started with an observation: we have brilliant students but they are not integrated into the professional world because they lack essential transversal or entrepreneurial skills which are not part of their core curriculum but are in high demand for the employers in Luxembourg,” says Siva Bactavatchalou, Head of Entrepreneurship Programme and co-organiser of Ideation Camp. “We wanted to start changing mindset, to create an event which within a short exposure would provide students with some level of entrepreneurship education,” adds Pranjul Shah, Head of the University of Luxembourg Incubator and co-organiser of Ideation Camp.

Siva and Pranjul looked at different startup bootcamps around the world. One of them was meeting their requirements best – 3 Day Startup (3DS), a programme organized at Technion Israel by Shai Haim, Associate Director of Activities at Bronica Entrepreneurship Centre. With Shai’s support, they developed the concept of Ideation Camp in less than 2 weeks! This is how the University of Luxembourg began its collaboration with Technion.

Ideation Camp number one got over 30 applications which was impressive for an event that never existed before. After a round of interviews, the first edition saw 26 participants and 15 high profile mentors. “We bring in a lot of mentors to support participants because we want to create a real-life experience,” explains Shai. “Throughout any business person’s journey, they hear tons of different advices and Ideation Camp participants need to decide which ones to take on board”.

Personal growth, higher employability and learning new skills are the key goals of the Ideation Camp

The unique concept of Ideation Camp serves the University community regardless of their level of studies or enrolled programme and facilitates interdisciplinary collaboration which rarely happens during their studies. In addition, unlike typical hackathons, Ideation Camp is an educational programme with mandatory courses structured and organised in a student-friendly way: having an idea is not mandatory to participate and no specific background is required. All you need is the motivation to move out of your comfort zone and to learn new skills while having lots of fun.

Whichever educational background or professional aspirations participants might have, Ideation Camp will push them beyond their limits, even if they don’t believe that they can take entrepreneurial path as a career, while networking with mentors and learning transversal skills can open doors which would stay closed otherwise.

Entrepreneurs coming out of the Ideation Camp include the founders of CheckMath, Edugamitec, GoldenMe, HappyLocal, Visibility STEM Africa (VSA), Our Choice, TechnOptiz, and many others.

Co-founder of GoldenMe Mara Kroth participated in Ideation Camp number three and recently won Coup de Cœur at CYEL Chambre de Commerce. “Before Ideation Camp, I had no idea what entrepreneurship was about,” she says. “I was doing my Bachelor degree in Psychology at the University. After experiencing 3 days of Ideation Camp, I am now working on our startup, developing a prototype, interviewing customers and meeting with mentors. I would never have expected that this event would change my life in such a meaningful way”.

Nathasia Muwanigwa, CEO of VSA also found her experience at the Ideation Camp number six life-changing: “My participation in the Ideation Camp was really the catalyst for me getting the confidence to wanting to turn my idea into a startup”. VSA’s recent first conference was a huge success bringing together 200 Africans and showcasing their brilliant work and journeys in STEM across different disciplines.

What the future holds?

Ideation Camp event series now saw 6 successful editions with every event having higher registration and attendance numbers. The latest Ideation Camp number six had 74 participants, almost tripling from Ideation Camp number one participation.

With numbers of Ideation Camp participants rising, the number of experienced mentors who are willing to share their expertise and help the millennials is growing too. “We want to provide an opportunity for mentors to meet students in a different context and maybe even hire them as an intern,” returns Siva.

Mikael DaSilva is a good example of what a student can achieve thanks to Ideation Camp. Originally from the US, he came to Luxembourg from Germany, made the best out of each of the three Ideation Camp which he participated in, winning Ideation Camp number five and making such a good impression at Ideation Camp number six that he was offered an internship with LBAN. After successfully completing it he was offered a job at the startup RoomMate where he now works as Marketing and Business Developer. “Ideation Camp is an unforgettable experience,” – says Mikael. “Coming out as winners or not, the lessons you learn and the people you meet are fantastic. You are surrounded by amazing staff and professionals that are truly at their ultimate disposal. Ideation Camp gives you an idea of how the real professional world actually is”. At LBAN, Mika left a very good impression on the board and they are happy to continue offering this opportunity to more University students in future.

Given current circumstances, Ideation Camp number seven is going online for the first time ever this February. Keeping the same learning experience for the participants as previous editions of Ideation Camps, the organisers made a few adjustments but shhhh… it is still top secret. One thing for sure, Ideation Camp seventh online edition, will be action-packed and challenging for the participants!

“Ideation Camp needs to be more integrated into the programmes of the University,” concludes Siva. “Teams are often more powerful when they come from different educational backgrounds and this diversity is key to team’s resilience and often success. It’s great to see when they also become friends after Ideation Camp. They start building their own network which is not limited to their course or department”.

“Certain organisations in Luxembourg are running their own versions of Ideation Camp,” says Pranjul. “As these are limited to internal staff members, they fail to achieve the full potential of innovation by bringing in a completely fresh perspective and leveraging on diverse external know-how. In coming years, we would like to see Ideation Camp 2.0 where corporates participate in camps and we have mixed teams of professionals and students working on corporate innovation projects together”.

Article originally published on Silicon Luxembourg


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