Aalborg University is building an amazing new building that will house the AAU Incubator. The goal is to be a beacon that lets people know that entrepreneurship is a core value that the University tries to expose all its students to.
What did we try to do?
After discussing with members of the AAU Incubator and other similar places around Aalborg we figured out that they found most value in mentorship and networking. We also knew from our discussions with our case partner that an important element was reaching as many students at Aalborg University as possible and put in their mind the idea of entrepreneurship.
Our goal was to create a way to both introduce entrepreneurship to students that would usually not be exposed to this idea and to facilitate success to those who try to create their own startup.
The team that worked on this concept had two different backgrounds:
Thomas N. Thimm
Entrepreneurial Engineering members
Miruna Antonia Olesen
Day 1 (Meeting with the case partner)
On day 1 after getting our case and meeting our team we got to discuss with our case partner. We chose to have a common meeting with the other two teams working on the same case and at the end we shared the notes we all took in order to be sure we all got as much of the requirements as possible.
Day 2 (field work, Startup Cafe)
For the first half of the day we learned how to do fieldwork. We also prepared questions that we could ask during our field work to make sure we got as much information as we could that we could use for our own design for the incubator.
Our first fieldwork destination was the Startup Cafe. From here we wanted to find out primarily what people using it for, which of their offerings they appreciated most and what else would they wish for.
Day 3 (field work, AAU incubator, UCN incubator)
In the third day we visited two different places that had the same goal, providing their students with a place and support to take on becoming entrepreneurs. We had interview questions prepared and got the chance to ask people within the incubators what they loved about it, what they would improve on and what they used very often.
Before visiting the AAU incubator we decided to add a bit to our field work and interviewed some people in the cafeteria. Our goal was to talk to students that were not part of an incubator. We wanted to know what could get them to join one, if they ever thought about entrepreneurship. We gained a lot of perspective doing this and discovered a group of people that we hadn’t considered before: PHD students.
Day 4 (Sandbox, understanding our findings)
During this day we explored the tacit knowledge we gained during our fieldwork. We created a sandbox scene where we let it come out and show what exactly we noticed but we were not precisely able to put words to. After discussing the scene we created as a group we noticed a strong theme emerging: people.
At this point we knew that the central driving force behind the incubator were the people. What they needed, what they brought to the incubator and how we could make them consider entrepreneurship in the first place.
Another theme was the private vs social space. The incubator turned out to be a space where people need social events, where building a network was a cornerstone but also a place where those at a later stage in the process needed a quiet space to call their own where they could buckle down and work. It needs to be a space able to change and adapt as the processes and people inside the incubator change.
Day 5 (presentation for the case partner)
The day started with us preparing a presentation for our case partner. We made our ideas more concrete and translated our “vibe” into concrete ideas of what could be done, what people needed. We kept to our themes and Morten seemed to respond positively to our insights. The feedback was that we should keep focusing on our theme and try to surprise him.
Day 6 (video sketching)
During day 6 we learned about video sketching for the first half of the day. The second half we prepared storyboards to depict our 5 main ideas and decided what way we could best express it using video.
Day 7(more video sketching)
Day 7 was spent using paper, markers, taking many pictures for our stop motion animation and filming the bits we needed in front of the green screen.
We managed to finish our first video sketch.
Day 8 (even more video sketching)
Day 8 we put the rest of our video sketches together taking more pictures and expanding on the ideas we came up with in day 6.
The theme that seemed to emerge through all our sketches was “People”. People are the ones that make the incubator and we need to facilitate people’s interaction and exchange of ideas.
Sketch 1 – Reaching out
This video shows our idea of ambassadors that come during the intro day of each study and present the incubator. Our hope is that a lot of people will be inspired to at least check out the Aalborg Incubator.
Sketch 2 – Brain Scan
The idea is having a large cork board that people that are part of the incubator can post a Polaroid of themselves with the name and what they do as well as a “Brain Code” that encodes a link to their website of choice (personal website, linked in profile, whatever gives most meaning for them).
We wanted to have this analogue way of connecting with the people from the incubator. This way you have a large overview of the people inside and a way to find out more about them.
Sketch 3 – Interactive room
We envision a room where the walls are a whiteboard and you can connect to the projector wireless. We want a room where people can exchange ideas freely and communicate without any cumbersome technology holding them back.
Sketch 4 – Foldable desk
The idea with this concept is to have a way to give people some sort of personal space while keeping the freedom of re-configuring the room and moving around. The foldable desk can be moved around, or folded and stashed away to accomodate whatever the people need at the moment.
Sketch 5 – Private/Public space
We want to create a space where people can have their privacy and peace and quiet but they can open up their room and incorporate it to the public space if they feel like it. We calculated that there is enough space for 30 rooms leaving behind ample room for a large common area too.