Held for the first time, the UZH Innovators camp is a summer program organized by the University of Zurich for bachelor, master, and Postdoc students as well as PhD students. The camp is designed to provide participants with hands-on training combined with lectures, speeches, team challenges and much more to immerse them into the business world.
During the intensive one-week program, 21 participants from different backgrounds met new members with whom they further developed their business ideas, attended workshops in which entrepreneurs, investors and inspiring speakers shared insights on starting a business but also on being an entrepreneur. As part of the program, attendees had visits to companies such as Insphero, Roche and Kraftwerk/ImpactHub Zurich, where they acquired industry insights and inspiration.
By the end of the camp, the project members had acquired knowledge on ideation, prototyping starting and running business, financing, and pitching. They also learned about the soft factors and qualities of an entrepreneur. While the participants used the camp as an opportunity to identify a clear market need and tailor their ideas to a problem and structure their ideas, they also used it to awaken their entrepreneurial spirit.
A jury of five members, consisting of professors from academia and the startup-scene, joined the camp on the last day to listen to the pitch and determine the best ideas. The panel agreed on two projects with an Excellent Business Pitch. Besides their participation certificate, the two winners received a two months membership to join the Impact Hub Zurich.
Project Circleg, ZHdK
The team is developing a low-cost prosthesis made out of plastic waste for the affected people in Kenya. Unlike existing prosthesis, Circleg contains unique features such as an ankle joint, which allows a squatting position and to bend the leg to 30 degrees. The team is already in contact with companies in Kenya and has the first prototype. After the camp, the two founders are ready for the next stages and aims to start the first test soon.
“We came in from the design world, and we have been able to dive into the business world in such a short time. Besides, we met different players who gave us input and feedback and we are now going to continue”, said Simon Oschwald, founder of Project Circleg.
Mus.i.c (Multisystem, Cell therapy for improvement of urinary continence) is developing a novel tissue-regenerative approach to treat urinary incontinence among female. This is achieved by using autologous muscle precursor cells in combination with neuro-muscular electromagnetic stimulation. The project is already at an adavnced stage, has received support from different supporters including 6 million Euro from Horizon2020 and is currently in phase 1 clinical trials.
Deana Mohr, Clinical Project manager coordinator, is delighted to have joined the camp. She says: I had no idea what it is like to start or run a business. I will use the know-how I got here to bring the project to another stage.”
The organizing team bestowed a special prize on Project MiniMice with a core team from ETH. The team is developing a software solution to improve the breeding strategy of mice as well as reduce cost and time taken in the breeding process. The project leaders will receive further support and guidance from the UZH innovators camp team to develop the idea and bring it to the next level.
Other projects in the program include Routalize, developing a solution for street maintenance and FerrunSens developing a faster solution that allows patients to take iron tests in pharmacies quicker and less costly.
The camp organizers acknowledge the achievements the camp and participants yielded. Maria Olivares, leader of Innovation at the University of Zurich said: “This was a testing phase for us too, and I am delighted that it went smoothly. I am very happy that we got the people to move on and work hard on their ideas. They have made tremendous progress. We had a great cohort, and we hope to make the camp even bigger in the next time”.
Olivares together with the organising team comprising of Professor Harald Gall, Dean of the Faculty of Business, Economics and Informatics, Elke Zappe, Director of the BioEntrpreneurship & Innovation Program at the Institute of Regenerative Medicine (IREM) and Katrin Winiarski, UZH Innovation, are now planning for the next UZH Innovators Camp.