“No program has been more impactful on our students than the EIA Summer Abroad… We have transformed the career paths of some of Berkeley’s best undergraduates and EIA has quickly become one of the cornerstones of Berkeley’s venerable entrepreneurship pedagogy.”
– Ken Singer, MD of the Centre for Entrepreneurship and Technology at UC Berkeley
This morning I attended the European Innovation Academy´s (EIA) opening event in Nice, France. I wrote about the event already in April this year and now for three weeks in July it is happening.
It is the largest start-up and innovation summer school I have heard of, gathering more than 500 people from 75 nationalities, and it brings together bright minds from all over the world to team up and bring innovative products and services to the market. For students who are attending, the program gives them academic credits.
I was surprised how young most people were at the event. I think they on average were half my own age. Everyone I spoke with was smart, assertive and enthusiastic, even though most people were quite inexperienced. Yet, successful internet entrepreneurs today are often very young, launching ideas and products without inhibitions, and given talent and the law of large numbers, many succeed.
The methodology of EIA is developed in collaboration between the Academy and University of California in Berkeley, Stanford University, and Google. In particular, EIA draws from entrepreneurial education at the Centre for Entrepreneurship and Technology at UC Berkeley. Through fast-paced, collaborative prototyping, EIA immerses participants in the lean start-up lifestyle.
The main goals of the first week are the formation of teams, ideation, and the first phase of prototyping. As soon as all 500 participants arrive, each is asked to sell his/her skills, experiences, and ideas to others.
Within two days, teams of five members are established. Each team is required to have proficiency in design, software engineering, and business and the participants are introduced to the Lean Start-up methodology.
Teams then dive into the bulk of their work. Software engineers and designers hack together their product while business people engage real customers. A key aim of the second week is to find a product/market fit that makes sense to both the team and to investors. Teams are expected to deliver their respective minimum viable products.
Lectures during this week are geared towards the acquisition and development of customers. During afternoons, mentoring is separated into technical sessions and non-technical sessions. Each team has a dedicated chief mentor.
Having practiced their pitches and polished their prototypes, the teams make final preparations for the Venture Capital Investment Competition. EIA hosts a panel of investors from various firms in Europe and Silicon Valley where each team pitches to the panel and are judged for their work at EIA. Judging is based on team composition, business model, technical achievement, and pitch.
The opening event was introduced by the EIA founder and President, Alar Kolk, and I filmed his introduction speech.
Then there was a session where the main panel of the event was introduced, which is in the video below. Panel members are Pascal Xelot from IBM, Ken Singer from University of California in Berkeley, Jean-Christophe Martin from University of Nice Sophia Antipolis, Landry Holi from Amadeus, Sylvain Theveniaud from Alllianz, Andre germinet from Credit Agricole and Vanessa Marcie from the regional development agency Team Cote d´Azur.
To know more about the event, here is the official promotion video, and a link to the Academy website.