Global student program a pathway to startup success

Deakin news
27 March 2019

Selected Deakin University students will have the opportunity to immerse themselves in an extreme entrepreneurship program in Turin, Italy in July this year.

Successful applicants to the SEBE Entrepreneurship and Innovation Summer School in Italy will be hosted by the European Innovation Academy (EIA). Participants in the EIA program collaborate with students across other disciplines and universities to ‘turn ideas into startups in just fifteen days’ and learn what it takes to be a global entrepreneur.

The EIA program is strongly influenced by prestigious startup accelerators and their methodologies. Participating students will be guided by speakers, mentors and investors from various global business, marketing, IT and design backgrounds, including many from Silicon Valley. The technology focus for the 2019 school is web and mobile applications, internet of things, big data, and business software.

Deakin’s participation in the EIA program is led by the School of Information Technology. Dr Greg Bowtell from the School of IT was academic program leader for Deakin’s involvement last year.

‘The experience EIA offers is truly global, meaning our students are exposed to members of many cultures all trying to adapt to an unfamiliar and highly competitive environment,’ Dr Bowtell explains.

‘This provides our students with a much greater awareness of the need for cultural diversity in a collaborative problem solving environment like EIA, and the intensity of the program also tests the ability of our students to operate under intense pressure.

‘The immediate benefits of the EIA program are evident when students return to normal study, as their time and self-management skills ramp up sharply over the three-week program, and their communication skills visibly improve after being immersed in such a dynamic, high-standard learning environment.’

Deakin IT students Joshua Pujol and Raja Ponnuchamy were participants in last year’s program, with the respective projects they collaborated on – Tongue out! and PocketPharmacy – each making the top startups list.

Joshua, who has just completed his studies, says EIA was one of the most pivotal moments in his academic pursuits.

‘I found EIA to be such an incredibly life-changing experience – to come together with complete strangers from all across the world, and create a project from start to finish. The connections and friendships I made will last a lifetime. And the overall experience has inspired and shaped my career goals and aspirations.’

For Raja, the program has helped him with his entrepreneurial ambitions.

‘I was very excited in undertaking this program as I have always been interested in entrepreneurship and was looking for all the help and assistance I could get in achieving my goal of becoming a successful entrepreneur,’ he explains.

‘The program helped me in gaining very useful insights and experience in what is needed to become an entrepreneur, like coming up with a marketable idea, devising a successful business plan for it, creating a working prototype and then how to pitch the idea to potential sponsors.

‘Since the program had participants and mentors from across the world, it helped me to learn a lot about people from different cultures, their perspectives and their ideas and I think all the knowledge and insights I have gained from the program, along with the experience, will be invaluable for my future as an entrepreneur.’

Dr Elicia Lanham from the School of IT is the academic program leader for 2019. Find out more about the program, including eligibility criteria and how to apply: 2019 SEBE Entrepreneurship and Innovation Summer School in Italy.

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