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Summer Lab Recognised For Excellence In Global Entrepreneur Education

A four-week intensive programme run by the University of Auckland Business School during summer break - designed to ignite the entrepreneur within - has won the top educational prize at the International Council for Small Business (ICSB) 65th world congress, held in Paris.

Summer Lab received the 2021 Global Award in Entrepreneurship Education Excellence, in recognition of their unique programme that teaches the essential skills needed to turn ideas into business ventures.

The award’s criteria include novelty and creativity, how the programme encourages innovation as well as the potential impact on society.

On announcing the shortlist for the award, the selection committee said that “Summer Lab’s unique programme had the power to change the lives of millions around the world”.

Developed in 2016 by the Business School’s Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE), Summer Lab is a free course open to all staff and students at the University of Auckland, not only those enrolled at the Business School.

For the award finals CIE Director Darsel Keane and Programme Manager Judith Marecek gave a 15-minute video presentation, with a five-minute Q&A to the Paris conference.

Summer Lab’s latest programme was attended by 108 participants and included rapid prototyping, workshops, access to entrepreneurs and industry leaders, as well as the use of tools and frameworks to shape innovative thinking. Participants got to explore emerging technologies, minimum viable products, and concepts such as design-led thinking, using a range of business canvases. On the final day teams shared their ideas by pitching their venture to a panel of judges, who provided feedback and guidance.

Darsel says winning the ICSB Entrepreneurship Excellence Award has been thrilling for the team at CIE. “ICSB has been advocating for global business since the 1950s. It’s hugely flattering to receive this award, particularly when the other finalists are so accomplished”.

Previous participants that have established ventures include Hexacyle, created by scientist Neil Birrell in which black fly larvae are housed in warehouses to consume organic waste and the larvae then fed to chickens. Hexacycle now supports two factories in Kerala, India, where waste disposal is a significant issue for the local community.

Another Summer Lab spin-out Socius XR is helping neurodiverse people into work through job interview training and other skills development using an immersive extended reality platform.

The ICSB is the world’s largest international, small- and medium-sized enterprise (SME) organisation dedicated to advancing small business and entrepreneurship. The award was created to recognise excellence in educating tomorrow’s business leaders today.

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