Monday, November 12, 2012

Opening symposium at Cairo University


Opening symposium at Cairo University
A big room full of young entrepreneurially-minded students!

CU's Faculty of Commerce is making commitments to "bring the students to the world and... bring the world to students"... music to our ears,

Paula Kyro of Aalto (and chief architect of this collaboration) talked about on progress so far - all the things that have happened even in the last year.

Cairo University is one of the largest universities in MENA -perfect partner for growing entrepreneurship education. Cairo U wants to continue developing entrepreneurship into a core competence
(we think it could be a distinctive competence!) but is still very skills-focused and not connected to the local entrep ecosystem. Of course, that's why we are here! :)

SAMS (Sadat Academy of Management Sciences) is on a similar trajectory and is completely committed to "REAL training, REAL projects" - I think we can help. Already connected Professor Sahar Nagaty to Dell Social Innovation Challenge & William James Foundation.
(And I've been sharing the online materials out there such as Steve Blank's Lean Launch Pad on Udacity.)

Supreme Council of Universities (!) has now committed to broadening and deepening entrepreneurship education across Egypt's universities. (Was in Arabic, can't wait to see the translation!)

"Living Lab" for technology development
Constructivistic, co-immersive model that co-engages broad spectrum of stakeholders [i.e., an ecosystem-centric model] - you know Professor Sherif from Mansoura University was preaching to THIS choir ;)

Immediate thoughts so far:
1) Ideas are far less important than Implementation.. need to get this more at center of programs/courses/exercises move away from thinking about "great ideas" or (shudder) biz plans..]
2) Lean model should fly well here [we'll see tomorrow]
3) DEEP co-immersion in entrep ecosystem - needed and wanted
4) Develop 'reading list' and 'contact list' for faculty AND students

Afternoon Brainstorming
5 teams, mostly undergrad students - each team had a topic, brainstorming ideas then presenting.
Everyone voted with stickies for their favorites across the teams

I got to be lead cat-herder for "Team Eagle" [Eagle is CU's mascot]
Our topic: Building entrepreneurship curriculum across the lifespan

My readers will be shocked... shocked, I tell ya, that they centered on:
     *) Build the entrep mindset and
     *) Connect the ecosystem!
:).... but I did not push them AND they know that these are a package deal!

Not sure that anyone else got more than 10 votes so let me brag on my team a little... :)

#1 (14 votes) Live class projects - make problem/project-based exercises at heart of all classes
-either work on own ideas (maybe host their own Startup Weekend or equivalent)
-or research/work on ideas for others (but have mentors/coaches from entrepreneurial community driving the process -see below)

#2 (13 votes) Get government to sponsor/champion competitions where students can battle-test their ideas (could include helping students engage in existing events like Dell and William James)

#3 (10 votes) "Meet the Entrepreneur" -develop multiple mechanisms to get entrepreneurs to meet students and get the students out in the community [remember what the FCCU Dean said earlier?]
(also video all entrepreneurs' talks, link to existing videos online)

(#4, 7 votes - was to build bandwidth by having students run programs,
#5, 5 votes - youth entrepreneurship classes using college students to help teach)

We take these ideas for granted too often but the truth is, even in the US we fall short on even these basics.

Other Breakout Groups
"Outreach": Students expressed great eagerness to connect better with the entrepreneurial community;
they want to see their instructors deep in the entrepreneurial world not the academic world
"Doctoral/Graduate Education": Even PhD students REALLY want to know more about how entrepreneurs really act and think. (And want their professors to do the same.)
"Collaborations": Want to see more, visible connections with local businesses

          ....gee...sensing a pattern here? ;)

And seriously proud of the students stepping up! [Go Team Eagles!]

Tomorrow - the revolution in entrepreneurial learning moves from the beachhead..
-> Lean startup and business model evolution awaits them
(-> along with a in-depth preview of the ultimate learn-by-doing, the "venture creation" model of entrepreneurial learning)

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