CS INNO HUB – the place and the space where students can validate and start implementing entrepreneurial ideas
Structures, supporting entrepreneurship and innovation, operating within universities, can contribute a lot to the development of the entrepreneurial profile of a higher educational institution. Such units can offer tailored services to enable researchers and students in bringing their ideas to the market. To this end, with the support received under the EIT HEI Initiative and as part of the activities carried out within the InnoChange project, the Babeș-Bolyai University from Cluj-Napoca, Romania, established the CS – Computer Science – INNO HUB.
Since its establishment in early 2022 the HUB became embedded in the organization, as a dedicated structure supporting the generation and development of entrepreneurial and innovative ideas through specific events, mentoring and training. All activities are based on a strategic approach and framework, that has been designed taking into consideration the scope of the project, the results of the self-assessment with the HEI Innovate tool, as well as the specific needs of the students from the Faculty of Mathematics and Computer Science. The domain itself is strategic, as well, since information and communication technologies are both a vertical and horizontal smart specialisation priority at the regional level and at the core of the digital transition.
The objectives of the HUB reflect the strategic approach proposed. The aim, thus, is to support the development of entrepreneurial skills and mindset, complementary to the transversal courses offered during the project implementation period. To this end connecting students with entrepreneurs and professionals from the local entrepreneurial and innovation ecosystem continues to be one of the main priorities. Such connections were fostered through the organization of networking events and open talks, as well as that of challenge-driven and open ideation sessions.
Through the networking events with entrepreneurs and business professionals, students had the opportunity to present their ideas and receive feedback through informal activities or “speed dating”. Such activities were proceeded by presentations on behalf of entrepreneurs, as well as moderated discussions. Emphasis was on personal journeys of business owners and particular challenges they have confronted with as entrepreneurs. Complementarily, students had access to an online platform with a variety of theoretical and practical courses and learning materials in video format. These materials provided flexibility in the process of developing entrepreneurial and technical skills and added value to the knowledge students have gained during the entrepreneurial courses.
The ideation sessions were the most dynamic activities. Within these events student teams went through several stages covering the whole cycle from idea generation to the development of new digital products in a coordinated and structured manner. A cross-disciplinary ideation session was also organized where mixed students’ teams from all three higher educational levels and from the Faculties of Mathematics and Computer Sciences and Psychology were brought together to work on digital solutions addressing mental health challenges.
CS INNO HUB is one of the main outcomes of the InnoChange project. The new structure represents an organisational change at Babeș-Bolyai University and through the services offered contributes to the development of the entrepreneurial profile of the higher educational institution. The activities of the HUB are in synergy with other results obtained during the implementation of the project and contribute to strengthening the links between the university and businesses. The main gain, however, are the innovative and entrepreneurial ideas that are generated, developed, and nurtured within the hub, supporting challenge and needs driven innovation and entrepreneurship, as also reflected in the testimonials below.
“CS Inno HUB was established with the objective of providing Computer Science students with a solid foundation in the entrepreneurial mindset. By organizing a series of events, our aim was twofold: firstly, to impart cutting-edge knowledge and entrepreneurial techniques, and secondly, to foster a robust and tightly knit entrepreneurial student community.”
“Participating in the InnoChange project through CS Inno HUB was an unparalleled experience, a real catalyst for our development as a startup. Alongside other members of the Futureship team, we had the chance to present our ideas, learn from the feedback received and exchange impressions with passionate and innovative people. The enriching conversations and valuable insights gained gave us valuable insights into and an important boost towards our entrepreneurial venture.”