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!