05 Aug 2016 19:17 IST

Three teams, three countries, and lessons in innovation

ISB’s Asia Innovation and Entrepreneurship Programme is a balance of hard work and fun

My three-week journey as part of the Asia Innovation and Entrepreneurship Immersion Programme (AIEIP) 2016 can be summed up thus: brilliant participants, varied perspectives and a brainstorming session with intense discussions. This is what happens when best of the best from India, Singapore and China meet for a three-week entrepreneurial exchange.

AIEIP’16 is a one-of-its-kind initiative, jointly designed by the Indian School of Business, National University of Singapore, and Tsing Hua University, Beijing, to encourage young students and professionals to consider entrepreneurship as a career choice and give them an opportunity to get first-hand global exposure in the area of innovation and entrepreneurship.

Twenty students from each university spent a week at each campus, understanding the nuances of innovation and the challenges and opportunities that being an entrepreneur presents.

Entrepreneurial collaborations

With the objective of developing a collaborative academic course that transcends physical borders, cultures and economies, all three legs of the tour started off the same way: with classroom seminars for the first half of the day that gave us a background on entrepreneurship and innovation.

At the end of the programme, we briefed the presiding professors on our project via a presentation, which included information about , how and where we developed our product ideas, and the process of working out the marketing strategies to launch those products in different markets.

Innovation hubs

The second half of each day typically comprised visits to the various entities that made up an entrepreneurial ecosystem, such as innovation centres, design labs, incubators, accelerators and, most importantly, the start-up offices! Places like the Impact Hub in Singapore, Zhongguancun Innoway in Beijing, Microsoft India Development Centre and T-Hub in Hyderabad presented us interesting opportunities to interact with the founders, incubation mentors, and for a brief while, angel investors as well.

I especially enjoyed my interactions with the founders, as it was a glance into the minds of entrepreneurs — their motivations and their approach to running a company. Hearing what they had to say gave many of us the confidence that being an entrepreneur is possible; we just need to have grit and resilience. One needs to be patient and persistent and, eventually, you will achieve your goal.

Varied ideas

The product ideas we came up with were as varied as the participants themselves. The areas covered ranged from financial technology, healthcare and consumer lifestyle gadgets to social entrepreneurship and community integration. Another great takeaway was the strong network we built for ourselves during this time.

Among our student groupand beyond, we have potential co-founders, mentors and investors. And we now have access to three of the fastest growing markets in the world; so, I am sure that, a year from now, you will hear of a few start-ups emerging from this programme!

With a good balance between work and fun, the AIEIP is a programme that I would highly recommend, and would love to attend again, if given the chance!

(The writer is founder of the Khwahishein Foundation and an alumnus of the Indian School of Business Young Leaders Programme.)