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Case study: Supporting innovation and entrepreneurship training for Shandong University students

Shandong University in Qingdao is one of the largest and foremost universities in China. It has a strong commitment to the expansion of its mission to deliver excellent teaching and research.

Cambridge Enterprise has been helping Shandong University (SDU) to develop its ability to commercialise the scientific and technical expertise and research outcomes of its staff and students since 2018. SDU has been developing state-of-the-art facilities for lectures on innovation and entrepreneurship, business incubation and co-working, both in Qingdao city centre and in its modern campus outside the city, some of which have been the venues for masterclasses delivered by Cambridge Enterprise staff and associates.

First training camp

In early 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic made international travel, face-to-face visits and training sessions impossible, programme activities moved online. In November 2020, SDU’s Department of Innovation and Entrepreneurship asked Cambridge Enterprise to contribute to its first innovation and entrepreneurship training camp, designed to improve the entrepreneurial awareness and capabilities of its students, particularly those with the ambition of starting a business.

The first stage of the training camp programme was delivered in December 2020, consisting of a series of four lectures on the early stages of evaluating an idea and preparing to take it to market. Topics included how to identify a good idea, assess its viability, develop a value proposition and business model, and financing a new venture.

Next stages

In stage two, Cambridge Enterprise will participate in the selection of the most promising ideas for commercialisation, based on single-page descriptions developed by the students. The students will be guided in the preparation of their propositions by Cambridge Enterprise, and the selections will be made by a joint judging panel.

The third stage will involve further input into the training camps in the form of pitch training workshops, video meetings with successful entrepreneurs in Cambridge, mentoring sessions with Cambridge experts and further workshops and lectures.

A graduation certificate from the Centre of Innovation and Enterprise SDU will be awarded to students who complete the full course. The ultimate reward will be in seeing the most promising propositions become successful spin-out ventures.