Sparking student innovation

“A little less conversation, a little more action please”. Elvis Presley probably didn’t write the song intending to describe innovation, but he actually sums it up quite well; innovation needs action! Spark is a new initiative at NTNU aiming to help students take action and be innovators and entrepreneurs themselves.

What do you do when you think you have a good idea? How do you begin? What should you say, or can you say anything at all? How can you develop your idea? These are questions that often remain unanswered, stopping creative students from exploring their ideas and being obstacles toward innovation. Employees at NTNU can get help answering them using the Technology Transfer Office (TTO), whereas students haven’t had that opportunity. Until now.

Spark was created in cooperation between NTNU and TrønderEnergi, and has one main goal: to nurture and help students who think they have a good idea, to actually do something about it. Spark employs students having started companies themselves, as mentors for students with an idea, to help sort out where to begin and what path to take. Also, the initiative can help by providing that small amount of cash that is often needed in the nascent stage, to make the first prototype or get meetings with potential customers. All mentors are hired by NTNU and have signed a confidentiality agreement with NTNU, so they cannot say anything about the idea to anyone unless the student wants them to.

Spark was soft-launched this September, and it has already gotten a massive feedback from students with ideas. The number of students contacting Spark every week since the softlaunch has shown that the initiative, being unique in Norway, actually answers to a real problem. We have people coming to us wanting to make various types of initiatives, from board games, via apps, to new organisations for different purposes.

NGA

Photo by: Start NTNU

 

So, why should you become an entrepreneur already before you graduate? There are many possible answers to that question, but some of them are:
● It’s some of the best experience you can have applying for a job later on, or you could actually create your own job.
● If you ever want to do it, now is the time where almost no-one else depends on you, and you even get a student loan and scholarship so you don’t have to work. When you have a mortgage, family, spouse and a paid job, you will find it much harder to try. Do it now.
● The university is an unlimited source of good knowledge in a wide range of areas, and as an interested student, you can harvest it for free. Scientific employees are less “threatened”, or afraid to seem stupid, when speaking to young students, and will more
easily share both what they know and what they think they know.
● The younger you are, the more innovative you are. A study from the University of Texas and the University of Massachusetts shows that freshmen are more innovative than graduates, as they think more “outside the box”.
● You are tired with school and want to use your abilities to something that actually creates value, rather than writing reports or exercises trying to find predetermined answers.

So if you have a halfway good idea, you can now come to us in Spark and talk about it, and we will help you find the next steps to maybe make it happen. Maybe you will make the next Fun Run, Fast, Chipcon or Atmel? Or, do you want to help us make Spark even better? Contact us at kontakt@sparkntnu.no

Photo by: Anne-Lise Aakervik