Making the World a Better Place Together

“We believe students can change the world” – The story of how they actually did at the Alps Meetup at FH Salzburg.

By Cosima Decho & Julia Brunhuber, University Innovation Fellows, Salzburg University of Applied Sciences

“Young people should be at the forefront of global change and innovation. Empowered, they can be key agents for development and peace.” (Kofi Annan) – That’s precisely what Salzburg’s University Innovation Fellows did with the Alps Meetup.

From February 14-20, we hosted a Regional Meetup in Salzburg, Austria, right at the foot of the mountains. By bringing together 34 Fellows from 11 universities at the Baroque castle of Salzburg University of Applied Sciences, we created an inspiring atmosphere where change was inevitable. 

Throughout the week, the participating Fellows worked on one of four workshop topics: Active Citizenship, Media Credibility, Future of Learning and Urban Mobility. Attending Faculty Champions focused on further developing the concept of the role of a Faculty Champion. The workshop schedule was interspersed with amazing speakers who contributed their knowledge and experiences and provided new insights into the different topics. Also, several activities, such as skiing, sightseeing and a company visit at Porsche Innovation Engine, offered the participants the chance to build strong relationships that will last forever.  

Our major learning objective was to identify new trends in fields that may not catch an innovator’s attention. The Alps Meetup was all about multicultural teams working on global solutions in these fields and perceiving global issues from different perspectives. 

The learnings were not restricted to the participants. Our whole team of host Fellows and Faculty Champions of FH Salzburg learned so much throughout the whole meetup! Our number one conclusion afterwards was that the moment where a plan stops working is the time for huge opportunities to arise. Especially within the uifamily, there’s always a wonderful solution close by, and in the end, it all gets even better than anyone would have dared to dream! Another very important finding was that sometimes the most important people are not the ones on the stage but those working in the background to new plans and ensure that everything goes well.

In fact, everything did go very well: Within an incredibly short time, a strong bond was built amongst all participants, a unity that lasts so much longer than just for the time of the Alps Meetup. Friendships have been built and ideas can’t wait to be realized. This very special connection will be maintained and taken care of wide beyond the time of the meetup because we care. We care about other Fellows, we care about change and we care about our planet. We strive to make it a better place – together.

UIF Alps Meetup Video:

Together We Can Make a Movement

By Titus Venverloo, Fellow, University of Twente

From August 11 to 20, 2019, the University of Twente Innovation Fellows hosted their regional meetup in the Netherlands. With 31 students from over 15 countries joining the program, the stage was set for an amazing nine days full of design thinking, leadership, innovation and entrepreneurship, as well as some truly EPIC team dynamics. The program involved many guest speakers, from researchers to mayors to entrepreneurial students to CEOs, all surrounding the theme of how to Science2Design4Society.

The central spot of the meetup was the DesignLab, the futuristic student-driven makerspace of the University of Twente. During the 9 days, the group worked on multiple cases provided by local and international stakeholders related to the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations. They went through the 6 phases of the DesignLab’s Design Thinking methodology to find solutions to global challenges: Explore, Ideate, Conceptualize, Prototype, Reflect and Reframe. Besides going through the Design Thinking cycle, the group elevator pitched in an elevator, talked to CEOs and mayors over dinner, casually rappelled off buildings, played volleyball, enjoyed late nights, and, above all, had some festival style vibes!

Marthe, the project lead of this meetup, summarizes the experience as: “If you are able to inspire others they will also inspire you. And that is exactly how we can describe this meetup.” One of the participants reflected: “After these nine days, I’m another person than the one that arrived on the first day.” 

Developing leadership skills and an entrepreneurial mindset cannot be done overnight, but apparently, with the right circumstances, nine days might be enough! Next to the program for the students, several faculty champions joined the first-ever Champions Meetup, which was hosted at the same time as the meetup. They talked about “what it means to be a UIF faculty champion,” and they provided workshops, talks and engaged with the participants. Having these international speakers at the meetup was of great value to the program and the UIF network in Europe!

An inspiring quote that reflects the meetup: “Leadership is the art of accomplishing more than the science of management says is possible.” – Colin Powell

Inside Joke: Intercultural Communication is a thing!

Impactful thought: Alone we can make change, together we can make a movement!

View more event photos here.