H. Hasleberg, S.T. Hagen

University College of Southeast Norway (NORWAY)
Unemployment, inequality, and increasing social differences are huge challenges for Europe and many other regions in the world. In Europe, 80 million people are at risk of poverty, 14 million young people are not in education, and the unemployment rate among young people is 20 %.
Entrepreneurial skills cannot be achieved by attending lectures in a classroom alone, but rather by developing ideas and solutions in a team, building networks, and facing the real market. An important success criterion is cooperation with external partners representing regional companies. The University College of Southeast Norway, Faculty of Technology (USN—FT), started up a 20 ECTS entrepreneurial course for engineering students in 2004 with the purpose of preparing the students for more creativity, better teamwork, problem-solving skills, network build-up, innovation and entrepreneurship.

In 2010, USN-TF expanded the entrepreneurial tool with an Innovation Camp two months after the commencement of their studies for the 1st semester.
The Innovation Camp is a two-day workshop during the 1st year, and the students are organized in approximately 35 interdisciplinary teams of 3-6 persons. The teams are presented with different tasks, given by external companies, and must agree on which problem they want to solve. The Innovation Camp ends with a competition judged by a professional jury, which reviews the business plans and performances on the stage presentations. The Innovation Camp is one element of a 10 ECTS course named “Project Methodology, ICT-Tools and Finance” during 1st year.

Since 2010, 1066 engineering students have participated in Innovation Camps at USN—FT and have given their evaluation in a 9 point questionnaire. The results from the questionnaire are satisfactory. Typically there are some improvements the three first years (2010 – 2012) and after 2012, a slight negative trend is observed. The percentage of students responding to the questionnaire is between 66 % and 91 %.

The Innovation Camp is one tool to enhance students’ entrepreneurial mind-sets, to take more control of their own learning and to take greater responsibility for managing their own future. Empowering young students’ by teaching them skills in creativity, risk tolerance, teamwork, human tolerance, handling time pressure and management is crucial for Europe’s economic safety and welfare.