Notre Dame and IBM China offer inaugural program on innovation and entrepreneurship

Author: Miranda Ma

Ibm Start Up Weekend Photo 1Photographer: Runjie Pan ’20, Greater China Scholar

The University of Notre Dame partnered with IBM China and the country’s Ministry of Education (MoE) by welcoming 22 undergraduates from Southern China University of Technology (SCUT) to Notre Dame’s campus this month. This is a new initiative, focused on international innovation and entrepreneurship.

The group of software engineering majors attended a two-week program titled Technology, Innovation and Entrepreneurial Impact (TIEI) from January 30 to February 12, 2018. The program was conducted jointly by Notre Dame International, the IDEA Center, and the ESTEEM graduate program.

“Through this program Notre Dame expands its global reach, and our faculty share their distinctive way of teaching about innovation and entrepreneurship with students from an area representing about 10% of China’s GDP and designated by China’s government as a center for high technology and innovation,” commented Jonathan Noble, assistant provost for Asia at Notre Dame International.

Courses covered various aspects of innovation, business start-up, and social entrepreneurship, including lectures, workshops, executive talks, and visits to a variety of businesses and organizations. Topics for discussion included problem identifying and solving, design thinking, business model canvas, product development, and pitching. Students also participated in the Startup Weekend together with Notre Dame students as their capstone project, to gain valuable, hands-on experience with starting businesses. Extracurricular activities included a day trip to Chicago, a Notre Dame basketball game and concert, and visiting museums, which all enhanced the student’s Notre Dame experience and cultural immersion.

Ibm Start Up Week Photo 2Photographer: Runjie Pan ’20, Greater China Scholar

“It has been a pleasure working with this group,“ said Sunny Shah, professor and assistant director of ESTEEM who designed the academic curriculum of the TIEI program. “The students have to work outside of their technology comfort zone and get involved in topics like problem hunting, design thinking, and customer validation. The group responded positively to these challenges and one can certainly see a pivot in their mindset from a tech-centric business to a customer-centric business.” 

“Our students had a very interesting and fruitful experience, and are learning a lot, “said Prof. Min Huang, deputy dean of SCUT’s School of Software Engineering. “Learning how to capture a problem, effectively communicate with people, and pitch ideas will be very valuable, regardless of their future career path.  We also very much appreciate the opportunity to gain first-hand knowledge from local entrepreneurs.”

The IBM Global Internship Program, established in 2010, has sent 54 Notre Dame Ph.D. students to the IBM China Research Labs in Beijing, Dublin, Zurich, and Bangalore.  IBM China also hosts students in Notre Dame International’s Global Professional Experience Program for undergraduate students. IBM China has also sponsored postdocs from Chinese universities to conduct joint research projects and co-publish papers with Notre Dame faculty. Since 2016, IBM China has supported three cohorts of visiting students from its partner universities in China to attend short-term programs at Notre Dame.

Jason Wang, international program leader of the IBM Greater China Group University Partnership said, “With the support of China’s Ministry of Education, IBM selects top talent from our partner universities to enroll in the IBM Innovation and Entrepreneurship Talent Academy, a program that aims to equip students with IBM technology, entrepreneurial skills, innovation mindset, and global vision. For the international module, we are delighted to have Notre Dame as our partner because of its systematic innovation and entrepreneurship curriculum, premier faculty in the field, and our shared vision of technology-triggered innovation and entrepreneurship for social good. This is the key initiative of IBM-MOE university programs and will be the first global industry-academia collaborative program focusing on cultivating students' innovation and entrepreneurship potential. “

Contact: Miranda Ma, Notre Dame International,