Entrepreneurial Adventures in Munich: The APE International Bootcamp 2019

March 19, 2019

What a week we’ve had attending the APE Bootcamp 2019 within the Strascheg Centre for Entrepreneurship at the University of Applied Sciences in Munich. 11 students from Edinburgh Napier have been among 70 participants in a Design Thinking for Entrepreneurship programme where 14 teams spent 6 days designing and developing innovative solutions and start-up ideas related to the Future of Mobility.

Edinburgh Napier students with Nick Fannin, Head of BRT, participating in the APE International Bootcamp 2019.

Students and coaches also came from Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada, The Hague University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands, the Czech Technical University in Prague and RMIT in Melbourne, Australia. We also had input from Deloitte, B.M.W, G& D Ventures, the City of Munich, and LabCampus at Munich Airport. The students worked hard and partied hard too! Did you know they have beer in Munich?

The adventure started on the Sunday night with a meet up at Augustiner Braustuben where everybody could get to know one another and enjoy a typical German welcome, all arranged by our amiable host for the week, Moritz Hoffman. We weren’t allowed to stay up too late though as we had an early start at the Strascheg Centre for Entrepreneurship and the Germans do like to be punctual!

The Strascheg Center for Entrepreneurship (SCE) was established in 2002 by Falk F. Strascheg, a venture capitalist and entrepreneur. SCE´s goal is to nurture entrepreneurial thinking and action through education and business start-up support measures. The range of education and research programmes combine practical knowledge and personal development in an interdisciplinary setting. Responsible Entrepreneurship is an admirable goal.

SCE promotes learning in live entrepreneurial settings and take a process-oriented approach to entrepreneurship, by either starting with a precise idea or a set of personal competences, skills and resources. Students apply different methods (effectuation, design thinking, lean start up, business modelling etc.) as well as leadership skills and interdisciplinary team work directly to an innovation project.

The first morning was all about getting to know each other, getting to know Munich and team building which involved a QR code rally through the city. In the afternoon various keynotes set out the theme for the week; the Future of Mobility. We heard from the Chief Customer Officer at BMW as well as urban and transport planners from the City of Munich and SWM MVG and some local e-mobility start up entrepreneurs.

Phew, that was a full on day but just when people are starting to feel a bit tired Moritz introduces us to an SCE tradition that gives us the boost we need. The famous SCE Beer Fridge opens at 5.30pm! Everybody toasts a great first day and we then head off for a “Brotzeit” at a typical Bavarian “Wirsthaus.”

Chief Punctuality Officer, Moritz Hoffman, demands we are back in the Steelcase Creative Hall at SCE at 9.30am on Day 2 for his introduction to Design Thinking & Entrepreneurship. Over the following days there are sessions on Research Basics (Nico Kleener, RMIT Melbourne); Thinking & Acting Like an Entrepreneur (Steve Gedeon, Ryerson University, Toronto); Gaining Insights from your Research and Generating Ideas (Nico Klenner, RMIT Melbourne); Venture Capital & Start Up Finance (Assaf Shamia, D&G Ventures); Business Modelling (Steve Gedeon, Ryerson); Prototyping (Nick Fannin, Edinburgh Napier); and finally Pitching & Presenting (Pascal Schneider, Head of Communications, Deloitte, Germany). We also hear some start up insights from UmO and ChargeX.

It’s not just presentations though, throughout the week the students are encouraged to get out of the building and discover the mobility challenges we face for themselves. They have to keep re-framing these challenges as they discover new perspectives and have to develop insights that will lead them to sustainable solutions. It’s really hard, and just when they think they are onto something, a new perspective or challenge will take them back to square one. Who said entrepreneurship was easy?

The students worked really hard for 10 or 12 hours every day but still somehow managed to find time to go out and enjoy all that Munich has to offer. The Watchman tour was a highlight and it was also fun to be there on a Bayern Munich match night in the Champions League. Oh, and did I mention the beer? The Strong Beer Festival was also an attraction!

By Saturday everybody was pretty exhausted but each team had developed a start-up idea, built and tested a prototype, and were ready to pitch to a panel of investors. Team FOMY were the winners with an idea for GPS driven vibrating bicycle handlebars which tell you where to go but keep your eyes on the road. This wasn’t the only great idea though and we expect a few of the teams to develop their ideas further.

Finally, it was time for the Beer Fridge to open and everybody to celebrate an amazing week. Students were reflecting on all they had learned and the new friendships they had made. This is a powerful network and who knows what or where it will bring them in the future. Meanwhile the coaches were sharing ideas and new ways of teaching and doing “responsible entrepreneurship”. We were also plotting new ways to work more closely together so watch this space for further developments…

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