In a trailblazing educational initiative, Carinthia University of Applied Sciences recently hosted the Sustainable Entrepreneurship (SUS-ENT) Blended Intensive Program, a dynamic four week-long event that brought together 38 local and international students. This program was a melting pot of innovation, sustainability, and entrepreneurship, aimed at equipping the next generation of leaders with the skills necessary to drive global positive change. Students joined from the Autonomous University of Barcelona, University of Ljubljana, University of Udine, as well as ATHENA partners University of Maribor, Vilnius Gediminas Technical University and the University of Siegen.
The SUS-ENT program culminated in a week-long Bootcamp held at Makerspace Carinthia and was a testament to the university's commitment to nurturing socially responsible entrepreneurs. The participants, from diverse cultural and academic backgrounds, were immersed in a curriculum designed to foster both an intrapreneurial and entrepreneurial mindset. Students explored the intricacies of sustainable business model design, focusing on profitability while contributing to a sustainable future.
A significant highlight of the week was the emphasis on communication skills. Through pitch training sessions led by Alexander Mann from StartupCarinthia, students transformed their ideas into compelling narratives, evolving from thinkers to proactive doers. This aspect of the program underscored the importance of clarity and inspiration in driving change.
The transformative power of the program was further amplified by the involvement of industry experts and consultants including Mario Orasche, Rudolf Jammer, and Ferdinand Sereinig. Gloria Bottaro provided invaluable insights into innovation thinking and prototyping, Josef Tuppinger from the Gründer Garage coached and challenged the students’ ideas, while in his Fear of Failure Workshop, José Antonio Morales, encouraged fearlessness and highlighted the importance of 'intrapreneurship' – fostering entrepreneurial spirit within oneself as well as existing organizations.
Ideation, Business Model Planning and Design Thinking sessions, helped to birth exciting new ideas. These sessions were run by trainers Iris Einöder and Samantha Tady from StartupCarinthia, alongside Eithne Knappitsch and Anna Zinenko from FACHHOCHSCHULE KÄRNTEN/Turismo y Dirección Hotelera UAB. Their expertise helped in moulding the students' ideas into viable projects.
The program's climax was the final day, where seven teams pitched their innovative ideas in front of a distinguished jury. This jury included Birgit Hochreiter (Excutive Coach, Consultant & Trainer), Sarah Madrutter (Startup Coach, build! Gründerzentrum), Vesna Hodnik Nikolic (Managing Director, SGZ), Jürgen Holzbauer (I3 & Food Technology Expert, PHILIPS Domestic Appliances Austria), iris Einöder (Knallweiss and StartupCarinthia) and Martin Maitz (CUAS Educational Hub). The pitches were a showcase of the entrepreneurial transformation undertaken by the participants, highlighting their potential to make impactful contributions to the world.
The SUS-ENT week was not just an educational program but a collaborative effort involving multiple partners. Industry partners included SGZ - Slovenska gospodarska zveza v Celovcu, Versuni, Wirtschaftskammer Kärnten, I3 - Initiative Intelligent Innovation, the Global Case Study Challenge and Makerspace Carinthia. Their involvement was crucial in providing a rich and real-world learning environment for the students. It would not have been possible without the tireless support of Aleksandra Jama and Katja Keischnigg from CUAS International Relations Office, who are driving forward this type of blended educational exchange program as a form of responsible and sustainable education and internationalization.
The Sustainable Entrepreneurship Blended Intensive Program was more than just an educational event. It was a transformative journey that equipped aspiring entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs with the skills, mindset, and networks necessary to make a meaningful and positive impact on the world. The success of this program sets a new benchmark in entrepreneurial education, particularly in the realm of sustainability and innovation.