A new model to enhance education, cultural awareness and employability
Interdisciplinary international student teams are working together, both physically and virtually, for a period of 4-5 months in collaboration with our founders as real clients in the field. The Blended Mobility projects are a great success thanks to all participating students, professors and startups!
Blended Mobility is an international collaboration between 10 Universities and imec.istart. The project aims to create an engaging international interdisciplinary learning environment in which students become the R&D lab of the start-up. The core purpose is to revamp international mobility and empower students’ employability by means of blended mobility. Each year 2 students per University join a team to work on an innovative project from a start-up. The projects focus on developing an IT-solution/working proof-of-concept (web application, software, mobile application) for the start-ups, including a Marketing/Business Plan.
Why Blended Mobility?
Startups are the real engine of Europe’s economy and are expected to be even more in the future, as expressed by the European policies put in place to promote entrepreneurship and business opportunities. That is why the interest to promote entrepreneurship in young people is so strong. It is fundamental to find the picklock to make these diffused economic realities move closer to the academic world and understand the importance and mutual benefits of cooperation. Blended Mobility projects empower international mobility and employability by creating the resources to support students and companies hosting internships and by streamlining innovative teaching paradigms aimed to develop students’ soft skills in a blended international setting.
Factors preventing companies to participate in international, interdisciplinary projects/internships include cost, paperwork (visa/work permit), harder to train someone who is not physically present, finding good candidates (skill & language). In concrete, Blended Mobility is crossing the bridge towards working with students by providing an easy setup procedure, good match with academic support staff, universities to reach out opportunities, detailed info upon content & purpose and a clear view on mutual expectations. By integrating physical and virtual teamwork with a more project-oriented approach, the cost and time investment for companies is reduced.
Real clients in the field
A special thanks to the participating founders for their motivation, enthusiasm, and notable supervision of the students during the Blended Mobility projects in 2018 and 2019!
Epihunter Tim Buckinx
KnowledgeFlow Wouter Van Den Bosch
SpacePal Bram Plancke
Equicty Bram Balcaen
We asked our founders how they experienced the project
Wouter Van Den Bosch, co-founder of KnowledgeFlow
"As part of the Blended Mobility project 2018, the students involved helped KnowledgeFlow to conceptualize, design and build a working prototype of a chat bot extension to our knowledge management platform. What we got was a highly engaged, multidisciplinary team of students whose effort resulted in a usable demonstrator that we were able to show to both leads as well as investors. The program is a unique and not-to-miss opportunity to temporarily expand your startup’s team and boost your roadmap."
Tim Buckinx, co-founder of Epihunter
"The Epihunter student team (2018) developed an app that improves the social life of children with epilepsy and their parents. Next to the technical realisation of the app, the team has also created website mockups for the related parents app and doctors website. The team has also set up a marketing and business plan envisaging the opportunities in the market, studying how to increase visibility of epilepsy solutions and investigating how to extend the target group towards adults."
Bram Plancke, co-founder of SpacePal / SewerMapper
"Blended Mobility is an international interdisciplinary student exchange where students with different nationalities and educational backgrounds work together on a real-life business case. For our project, a mockup and prototype of the new web-app were developed, as well as some nice extras like an explainer video, product shots and logo optimizing! I would highly recommend B.M. as it gives startups the opportunity to not only receive quality deliverables, but also get to know international potential employees."
Bram Balcaen, co-founder of Equicty
"The project with the students was a good opportunity to test and validate a new business idea. We gave the students the new idea and they created the design mockups, prototype, marketing research and business plan. we are grateful to have the opportunity to work together with the blended mobility project and recommend this project to every company who wants to explore new ideas"
Advantages for Startups
- Develop & enhance your leadership skills
- Receive a working proof-of-concept
- Receive a Marketing plan & Branding material
- Get experience in working with a remote team
- Experience cultural differences and similarities
- Gain international contacts, partnerships and strengthen your network
- Find your talent & Promote employability
- Overcome international mobility “physical” barriers (VISA/Work permits)
Join as startup
Only imec.istart companies can join the program. Each year imec.istart select 2 startups, in collaboration with the consortium partners. Participation for imec.istarters is free!
The project must be challenging and wide enough to provide the interdisciplinary team with a meaningful challenge, each of which can contribute to their own expertise.
Arrangement for startup
Kick-off week in February
Monday: Briefing & introduction @imec, Ghent
Friday: Attend Pitch
Online feedback to your team concerning their solution-based outcomes (1 hour per week)
Virtual or physical presence in June
Friday: Final presentations
SUBMIT - Deadline: 15/10/2019.
You can send multiple project proposals.
Join as University
We are eager to extend our consortium. Universities willing to join with minimal two students and a supervising teacher are welcome to join!
- ISEP - Instituto Superior de Engenharia do Porto (Porto, Portugal) - IT
- ISMAI - Instituto Universitário da Maia (Porto, Portugal) – MARCOM
- FH Joanneum (Graz, Austria) - Business
- Odisee (Gent, Belgium) - IT
- LUCA School of Arts (Gent, Belgium) - Branding, UI/UX
- University of Paderborn (Paderborn, Germany) - MGMT
- Siegen University (Siegen, Germany) - IT
- Hellenic Mediterranean University (Crete, Greece) - IT
- Glasgow Caledonian University (Glasgow, UK) - UI/UX
- University of Maribor (Maribor, Slovenia) - IT
- University of Human Development (Kurdistan, Iraq)
- imec.istart - startups as the real clients in the field
Join as Student
Blended Mobility is all about teamwork and international collaboration with students of different disciplines in a professional setting (a real startup). This experience will improve your technical and soft skills (i.e. teamwork, communication & leadership) and give a boost to your employability. As you will be working in an international setting all the way, we expect your overall international interest to expand and influence the choices you make in the future.
Depending on the location where the kick-off and final meetings take place, you will go abroad one or two times. Both meetings take about one week. The following factors will make up the final grade: teamwork, peer-to-peer assessment, individual contribution in process and product, documentation, report and presentations.
If you are eager to join, check the Student Tool kit and FAQ!
It was a unique experience, for which I am grateful to be a part of, with some great benefits for my future career.
Pedro Ferreira, ISEP, Portugal, & participant in BM 2014
*THE TEAM AND THE FUN*
"We all started our first week in Ghent. Five of us in IT, two in Design, two in Marketing; all of us strangers, each with our own story to tell. Before you knew it we found out about the project, and then it was time to let loose the typical awkwardness as we got to know one another. Make no mistakes: it may've been our first week, but work had to be done. We started planning the project: how will we do things? Which skills does everyone bring to the table? What about a meetings schedule? And so on and so forth. Since all work and no play make Jack a dull boy, not everything was about work. We had teambuilding, from the outright silly (where we all ended up quacking like ducks) to the casually chill. Before long the first week was over, and it was time for all of us to return to our own college/university. It was only a week, but that was enough to go from strangers to teammates to friends. Needed help on something? Ask the team. Needed a lighter workload to work on other school projects? Ask the team. Communication was key, and as long as you were willing to communicate, you'd always find someone willing to listen."
Nicolas Henrotte, Odisee Student & participant in BM 2019
Students from Belgium, Greece, Scotland, Germany, Iraq, Portugal and Slovenia with backgrounds in IT (1/3rd of the team), Design, Marketing and MGMT work 4.5 months together, both virtual and physical. In February, all students join the kick-off week @imec.istart in The Krook Ghent.
imec.istart takes care of their accommodation, logistic support as well as team dynamics & team building activities. In the following four months, the international team will virtually work together from their Universities. In June they are invited at one of the Universities for the end-sprint week. During the closing ceremony, the student teams pitch their solutions in front of a jury.
~ End-sprint week 2018 in Crete, 2019 in Porto, 2020: TBD ~