Student Mobility

AUA Entrepreneurship Initiative Program Hosted by International Innovation Center of Tsinghua University, Shanghai

The AUA Entrepreneurship Initiative Program, hosted by the International Innovation Center of Tsinghua University, Shanghai (IICTUS), took place from 19 November – 5 December 2020. The goal of this program was to encourage and empower AUA students to excel at developing solutions to regional and global challenges. Researching global issues and determining where they can influence sustainability and change, students were encouraged to enhance their entrepreneurial skills to develop impactful business solutions.

Thirty-seven students from nine AUA member universities took part in the online program - the first AUA student activity hosted in an online format. The program consisted of lectures, a workshop, and an Entrepreneurship Competition. The lectures, delivered by expert professors from Tsinghua University's Department of Innovation and Schwarzman College, centered around themes of Design Thinking for Human-centric Entrepreneurship and Entrepreneurial Opportunity and Strategy. During the lectures, the professors shared their personal entrepreneurial experiences of navigating future business uncertainty to help students learn the basic concepts of successful entrepreneurship and "outside of the box" thinking, preparing them for their roles and responsibilities as part of the workforce of the future. The workshop took place as a dialogue with three former Schwarzman Scholars turned entrepreneurs.

Group photo of some of the program participants with Prof. WANG Youqiang, Director of IICTUS (top row, far left) and Dr. ZHANG Chuanjie, AUA Secretary (top row, second from left) during the opening ceremony

The second part of the program was an Entrepreneurship Competition, providing participants with an opportunity to take direct control of their learning experience, to transform from the mindset of "student" to that of entrepreneurial problem solvers. Participants addressed social, scientific and societal issues through creativity and critical thinking, while meeting like-minded people from all over the world and building entrepreneurship skills to benefit them for years to come.

Students participating in the Entrepreneurship Competition

Students prepared a business plan and 15-minute presentation for the competition. With the three Schwarzman Scholars as competition judges, ten students were selected as winners (see below table).

Winners of the Entrepreneurship Competition

The ten winners of the Entrepreneurship Competition received a competition certificate and were awarded a travel reimbursement to Shanghai of up to $1,500 USD to join events hosted by IICTUS, to be used when international travel is again permitted. All students who successfully completed the program also received a participation certificate.

Some of the winners of the Entrepreneurship Competition during their presentations

Although the global pandemic brought about significant disruption to higher education and student mobility in 2020, programs such as this demonstrate the resilience and adaptability of students and AUA member universities. In these precarious time, the Entrepreneurship Initiative facilitated the excellent contributions and outstanding business plans presented by the participants, highlighting the exceptional talent and entrepreneurial promise of these future Asian leaders.