Teaching and Learning  

Interlinked Startup Ecosystem Drives Campus Entrepreneurship

The 2016 NTU Creativity and Entrepreneurship Week was held from April 29 to May 7, offering a wide range of fun and informative activities, including workshops, lectures, seminars, startup project presentations, and a student recruitment meeting, all aimed at transforming the boundless creativity of the NTU community into real-world startup companies.  For the first time this year, the main drivers of the university’s startup movement, namely, the NTU Entrepreneurship Center, the Creativity and Entrepreneurship Program, and the Stanley Wang D-School@NTU, teamed up to organize the week-long event.

The university has spent years laying the groundwork for a campus-wide, interlinked startup ecosystem, which is now nearing completion.

In 2006, the College of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science took the earliest step in building the university’s startup environment with the course “High Technology Entrepreneurship and Management.”  Designed by Prof. Liang-Gee Chen of Department of Electrical Engineering and former NTU Executive Vice President for Academics and Research, who now serves as Political Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Education, the course was widely popular among the department’s students, confirming the demand for entrepreneurship related programs on campus.

Building on this success, NTU established the Creativity and Entrepreneurship Program in 2008, effectively expanding its services to all NTU students, regardless of department or year, who wished to learn about entrepreneurship and building startups.  Initially, the program emphasized the development of creative abilities and invited prominent business leaders to give lectures that cultivated students’ creative thinking and creativity.

When Prof. Ji-Ren Lee of the Department of International Business became director of the program in 2012, he shifted its core focus to management and entrepreneurial practice while introducing courses in innovation strategies, marketing design, and user experience.

A few years ago, Prof. Chen, hoping to learn more about design thinking and the entrepreneurial spirit of Silicon Valley, organized a planning team composed of professors from the NTU Entrepreneurship Center and various colleges.  The team traveled to Stanford University’s renowned d.School for the Innovation Master Series.  While there, Chen and his team also gained a better understanding of the West Coast’s resurgent Maker Movement, a startup movement aimed at spreading the spirit of community garage-based innovation around the world.

Back at NTU, the planning team applied the concepts of the d.School and MakerSpace in establishing the D-School@NTU in 2015.  In addition to incorporating design thinking and Maker Movement concepts into its curriculum, the school works closely with enterprises to lead students beyond the classroom and theory, and take them into the business community where they learn to deal with real-world scenarios.  Students also take advantage of D-school’s workshop to hone their maker skills and construct product prototypes.

Innovation is not just the foundation of entrepreneurship; rather, it is a powerful dynamic that propels society in the direction of positive change.  At the same time, “design for real change” is not simply a slogan at the D-school, it is the guiding principle behind all of the school’s endeavors.