ScaleUp4Sustainability (S4S) aims to achieve that future founders implement sustainability and ecology in their business plans right from the start. The project headed by the University of Oldenburg intends to deliver concepts which help integrate the linkage between economical and ecological thinking in education.
The idea behind S4S
Anyone starting a business or launching an innovative product has to consider a multitude of necessary steps: a business plan, funding, market research – and many more. Environmentalism tends not to be on the books, at least not as a priority. S4S wants to change this shortcoming by introducing new forms of student-business collaboration in developing, implementing and scaling-up eco-innovations and starting new green businesses.
We refer to this activity as „green venturing“. With “green” we refer to the concept of a Green Economy and the notion of a triple bottom line. The project will focus on the collaboration of student teams and business partners in green venturing. S4S will make use of existing initiatives and schemes for collaborative green venturing of involved universities from Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands.
Economic viability and environmentalism
Economic viability and environmental protection are no contradiction. We want to provide concepts to better integrate the link between economic and ecological thinking in education. As part of the S4S project, master students will therefore work on green venturing ideas in collaboration with our partner companies in the context of their academic courses.
In the winter term 2019/20 Oldenburg students will work on a business model for a new sustainable product line with chemical company BÜFA, which is supposed to be launched in the near future. With our partner EWE students will be working on an innovative business idea optimizing the energy use of solar power in order to make the sustainable power supply of private households more efficient.
International knowledge transfer
S4S will connect national leaders in student-business collaboration in green venturing and will increase pan-European visibility of pioneering university schemes and modules that provide collaborative green venturing. Through European cooperation existing regional schemes and national platforms can be connected and expanded to provide a transnational exchange and learning. For example, the planned international internet platform “Sustainable Venturing Challenges” will take stock of national initiatives and competencies and will use existing experiences to develop a truly European offer and matching solution.
Until now there are only very few existing university schemes and modules that specifically provide real problem-based learning through student-business collaboration in green venturing. S4S takes those collaborative green venturing initiatives of the involved universities (University of Oldenburg, Linköping University) as a starting point. In addition to scaling up and diffusing existing approaches in green venturing through transnational exchange and international transfer and dissemination, S4S will also develop additional innovative approaches and tools for student-business collaboration in green venturing.
Knowledge alliances between education and business
Both researchers in Oldenburg and their colleagues in Sweden and the Netherlands maintain longstanding relationships between academics and business in the field of sustainability. The economists now aim to evaluate the tangible results of previous university courses.
Were the environmentally friendly innovations that students have been working on in terms of business model development and marketing able to prevail on the market? Did the cooperation between universities and businesses result in the creation of new jobs? How did the professional career of previous participants develop?
S4S now aims to intensify the collaboration between students and businesses, for instance by creating workspaces for students within the partner companies or business incubators. On top of that there is supposed to be an online platform where startups and larger companies can recruit student partners for their green venturing ideas. About 300 students from Oldenburg, Linköping and Breda will take part in the program within the next three years.