The Academy, in partnership with the Worldwide Universities Network, offered students a truly unique international experiential learning opportunity during Global eWeek. Student teams from the Universities of Bristol, Leeds, Illinois, Sheffield, and York gathered in a virtual Access Grid meeting to deliver 5-minute pitches on their enterprising companies and the global challenges they aim to address.
Students based their venture ideas around global challenge themes that included: sustainable energy alternatives, global climate change, world poverty and food sustainability, innovative technologies, and social entrepreneurship ventures. Pallet House team member, Steve Marciniak, talks about the benefits of the Access Grid meeting: “ I really felt that I gained a lot of knowledge about different types of ideas. We are just at this Illinois campus, not really knowing much about what is on the outside. I think to get not only a view of what is in the state or the country, but to hear global ideas is really critical for understanding where other people are coming from and what other kinds of ideas they have to help improve the world.”
The international teams were honored to welcome faculty advisors and corporate mentors from Microsoft and Intel Corporate Headquarters to the virtual meeting. Mentors asked fantastic questions after each pitch, to get students thinking about improvements to their venture plans, long-term sustainability of their companies, and additional global themes their product/service may help. Anthony Santarelli, from the Match Grove team stated: “The corporate mentors provided a very different perspective than what we would have already considered. We’re just a start-up that’s beginning on campus, they’re part of successful organizations and they have a lot of wonderful foresight in areas we should look into and new avenues to discover. I also felt that the feedback from the officials in the UK was very beneficial.”
Students were thrilled to be participating in Global Entrepreneurship Week and sharing their entrepreneurial vision for their new ventures. Professor Peter Marsh, the Academic Director of the White Rose CETL Enterprise at Sheffield, commented on the value of networking across an international community during Global eWeek: “Sheffield SIFE really welcomed the opportunity to pitch two of their business ideas at the WUN Global event. The chance to present to and receive specific feedback from the global WUN community was incredibly useful to us in developing our thinking and ideas. Getting feedback from new sources across the world is vital in honing our plans, and we are keenly looking forward to the WUN International Enterprise competition in April.”