This fall, two eSmarter’s have gone back to school. Knut Gustavsen, COO of eSmart Systems, and myself, Tina Skagen, project manager, have enrolled as students at Norwegian Business School. The context is our research and development project ChargeFlex, funded by the Norwegian Research Council through the ENERGIX-program. The Norwegian Research Council offers a course called Innovation Management in a Global Business Perspective to selected projects and participants. Knut and I attend the course with ChargeFlex as our case study.
Purpose of the course
So why is it that Knut and Tina find themselves at BI Nydalen an early August morning this fall? Well, the objective of the program is to inprove business competence, and the management of innovation processes and new business growth activities. The students’ capabilities to lead business development projects are strengthened through an introduction to key theories and concepts within areas such as entrepreneurship, innovation strategy, innovation processes theory, and innovation management in business startups.
The lectures of the course is concentrated into three modules, each lasting approximately a week. The first was carried out at BI Nydalen in late August. The focus of the first module was innovation theories and models, business model development, the concept of lean startups, and presentations of the participating research projects, 17 in total. The projects span a wide range of industries and concepts. Presented in this group is everything from cancer research projects, to agricultural innovations, process innovations, IT projects, innovations related to energy and so forth. Common to all the projects are dedicated and highly skilled people. It is a lot to learn just to follow the discussions in the class, and listen to the presentations and the experiences among the students.
What have we learned?
Evaluating the course so far, I would say that the first module was instructive, and gave some valuable insights into business model innovation and lean startups. The importance of testing your ideas and concepts early on has been emphasized. “If you are not embarrassed when you present your idea, you have waited too long” was one of the presented phrases. Further, it is an important lesson to present your business project for an audience with no knowledge of your idea prior to the presentation. The critical questions fired even before you are done presenting, makes you want to sink through the floor at first, but really makes you better equipped to shape your business further. We learned important lessons here, which we look forward to getting more of as the course progresses through the fall.
The Way Ahead
October 19th the second module kicks off, in San Francisco, California. We will have five intensive days of lectures at University of California, Berkeley and Stanford University. We will give presentations, get counseling and coaching, conduct a company visit, and pay a visit to Innovation Norway in Palo Alto. We are up for an intense week!