Ideas to Impact is an annual course run by Assistant Professor Zeljko Tekic of the Skoltech Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Based on customer focus, it is designed to help students develop the ability to find, evaluate, and develop technological ideas into a commercially viable product, not to mention process concepts, and build these into viable business propositions. A feature of Ideas to Impact that differentiates it from more traditional lines of thinking is that it focuses on the customers and what issues they are facing that do not yet have a solution. In other words, it teaches students to focus on the customer first and then the idea, thus creating an idea to impact.
Yesterday, Dr. Max Rapp, who was one of the mentors at the Innovation Workshop in September, gave a lecture at Ideas to Impact. Max is an Adjunct Professor at Skoltech as well as the International University of Monaco; he teaches innovation management, digital transformation, and leads courses on corporate consultancy, design thinking and business models and transformation. He is currently the Head of Innovation Management, Co-Creation and Innovation for Ernst & Young and consults for major clients such as Adidas, Intel, BMW, and MasterCard, to name a few.
“Ideas to Impact focuses on creating new products and services – mostly online services – for potential companies or to improve a particular situation,” said Dr. Rapp. “Let us say that Skoltech is a company. How can Skoltech improve its services to the customer, the customer being the student? This course imparts a non-traditional line of thinking. Our approach is that you must first understand the customer or, in Skoltech’s case, the student. We are working on methodologies called ‘personas,’ meaning that you create an outline of the stereotypical customer; with this, you can understand them and see what kinds of pain points they have. If there are pain points and you validate them, then you can create a service and idea around it. Previously you started with an idea and you hoped that it would solve a customer problem. Now, you start with the customer and then the work on the idea. That is what it’s all about.”
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