Innovation camp a new approach on learning

Startup connect – cross border dimensions – what do we offer

It offers support for startups, students entrepreneurship and SME cooperation, in the cross border region of Russia and Finland. It will form a community of leaders and future business leaders, which are ready to concur the world. The Innovation camp is a revolutionary program. It brings together companies and students for Russia and Finland, in that sense from our project partner ITMO university. The program lasts for 1 week and challenge participants to their limits, to come up with disruptive solutions for real-life-cases; turns it into business possibilities and ventures. The InnoCamp brought together entrepreneurial and creative-like-minded students, together with local and international business, to work and suitable solutions.

The idea of the camps are also, to give access to great talent pool, secure regional capacity to attract learning, media visibility and many more benefits. This year we had five different challenges, all of them challenging and valuable for the development of areas and also most important to improve the skill set of the participating students.

Develop the skills of the 21st century

Creativity, professional problem solving skills, team building, multicultural communication, multidisciplinary teamwork and applied design thinking as well as critical thinking. Those are all valuable skills which are needed in the 21st century. It also needs to be mention that personal skills and attitude are as important as professional skills. The Innovation camp offered by Startup Connect project, was the platform for learning all those skills; with the support of international mentors and facilitators, the path to finding the right path was given. It is clear to say that not all students are only participating, to earn credit points, there are ambitious students who really want to develop themselves, and to get valuable experience. The idea behind the Innovation Camp was and is, to increase the learning-by-doing opportunity and to send out the message that learning and entrepreneurship is fun. The camp is demanding and challenging and it needs commitment an passion, so what is that you need to bring with when participating in one of this camp.

Foto by Manu Eloaho

A willingness to learn, and boost your personal and professional development, commitment, motivation, open-minded attitude, team working skills and a bag full of energy. Those are only some parts to be mention, but mostly you will learn new skills during the camp.

The overall idea was, to set up multidisciplinary teams form both universities, introducing them to their cases; giving them the necessary tools and support they need. But most of all let them learn and develop the solution on their own. During the camp we were aware of obstacles and difficulties, but with the support of our facilitators; we could keep the balance.


Who were our powerful facilitator team at the Innovation camp?

Our head facilitator was Erik Kristiansen (BRAINS-Denmark) a Danish entrepreneur within education and teaching. Erik has received several awards and recognition’s for designing challenging educational programs accelerating student learning and professional development. Erik is a true professional when it comes on innovation camp, back in 2017 he was also the main facilitator at the 1st *ship Disruption Camp, based on this idea, we developed a new form of camp for students. Cause of Erik´s connections we got very valuable cases to provide for our participants, this helped us to make it even more qualitative better.

Another superhero on the facilitator list is Dr. Neal Hartman, a senior lecturer in managerial communication at the MIT Sloan School of Management. Neal is a true expert when it comes on communication. at MIT he teaches intercultural communication and emphasizes working in teams, conflict and conflict resolutions, leadership and cross-cultural communication. When somebody can communicate proper then it is for sure Dr. Neal Hartman. The fascinating aspect on him is; he does not have a smart phone, or cell phone, no tablet or social media accounts, and this in the 21st century. Nowadays very hard to imagine, but if you would like to communicate like him; you need to approach the people and start a conversation.

Last but not least we had the great pleasure to welcome Dr. Shai Vyakarnam. Former Director of the Bettany Centre of Entrepreneurship at Cranfield, he also was Director of the Center of Entrepreneurial Learning at the Judge Business School at the University of Cambridge. Dr. Shai knows pretty much a lot about entrepreneurship; and heard in his professional life, millions of ideas, now he try to enjoy his retirement, but still loves to come to Finland and work with students.

Inside our project we have, Ksenia Sharapova, Elena Gavrilova (Director of SumIT – SummerSchool at ITMO in St. Petersburg) and Sabine Suorsa. We all supported the teams during their time at the Innocamp.

A unique program that can boost your professional and personal life

The idea of those camps (as mention) is not only to give student credits, know-how or experience and knowledge. Those camps are also the stepping stone to any kind of professional career in your future. With the involvement of local and international companies, opportunities to e.g. job-replacement, training possibilities or getting your dream job are wide open. I personally need to confess, if in my study time those opportunity were given; I would have learnt faster, more effective and with more motivation. You not only learn; how to innovate, being creative or work in a team, you personally get challenged, and pushed you our of your comfort zone. It is not only when standing in front of people and pitch your idea – it is about the guts to really do it.

Vision for the future

Those programs are about re-imagining the learning offering for the 21st century. We need to come up with radical approaches to equip students with the skills needed in the jobs of the future. In other words – teach people how to get their things done in a ever changing world. We connect the next generation of entrepreneurship with mentors worldwide. This helps students to become open-minded, and ready for getting challenged.