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Engage.EU - Sustainable Business Models and Societal Transition

Foster your Innopreneurial Competencies by Developing Sustainable Business Models for the Future of Education

Design Thinking with ENGAGE.EU 

You want to drive and implement innovation in your workplace, and learn how to design and rethink business models in the pursuit of positive societal impact? Participate in this unique learning experience where you will dive deep into sustainable business models and co-create powerful solutions to a real-world case challenge.

As part of the ENGAGE.EU alliance, WU and its partners cooperate with Teach For Austria to allow learners to gain new skills and perspectives while innovating offers and operations of the charitable organization. Using design thinking and knowledge about sustainable business models, you will tackle a challenge related to its current activities during a 4-day bootcamp. In preparatory input sessions, renowned international faculty from NHH University and Tilburg University will introduce you to latest findings in the field of (sustainable) business model innovation, to the characteristics and role of (purpose-oriented) networks, and to recent trends disrupting different industries.

Among other things, you will learn:

  • how to respond to these trends by enacting sustainable business models,
  • how to balance the needs for commercial vs. social and ecological value creation in designing them,
  • and how to identify facilitators and barriers to innovation. 

Throughout the program, you will not only explore Teach For Austria's business model, but also reflect and investigate how to innovate business towards sustainability within your job or field.

Taken together, this intensive online course will empower you to find new, creative, and sustainable approaches to face current and emerging challenges in your professional context.

Engage.EU - Sustainable Business Models

Rethinking Teach For Austria

Teach For Austria pursues educational justice by enabling ambitious university graduates, young professionals, and career changers to work as full-time teachers in underserved or underprivileged schools and kindergartens during a two-year leadership program. As inspiring educators, these Teach For Austria Fellows support and advocate for children facing difficult starting conditions by accompanying them in their development and realisation of their full potential.

Within an overheated job market, however, the NGO has recently seen a decline in applications for their program and experienced difficulties to translate and embed the value of becoming a Fellow into their positioning and communications. Additionally, they want to explore which leverage points they are still missing and how they can achieve meaningful change in untapped areas by making full use of human potential, partnerships and networks available to them.

This is where you come in by applying and synergising fresh insights and cutting-edge methods within a dynamic bootcamp setting. From a design thinking perspective, you will challenge, elaborate and re-define the current business model of Teach For Austria to take primary education to a next level!

Co-Creating Innovation with Design Thinking

Design thinking describes a non-linear, iterative approach for tackling challenges in a user-centric way that is aimed at exploring underlying problems and causes to facilitate the development, prototyping and testing of innovative solutions. 

Curious about how this method looks like when put into practice for a meaningful business case? 

Listen to a participant of our former ENGAGE.EU Design Thinking project describing how he experienced the process:

    • (Online) Module by NHH University: Sustainable Business Models

      The 5 input sessions will take place every day between May 22 and May 26 from 1pm to 4.30pm CEST.

      SESSION 1: Innovation – what it is, and what is it not? | Monday, May 22

      Innovation is central to modifying existing business models to make them more sustainable as well as to designing new ones that shall address and tackle specific societal or environmental grand challenges. In this session, we will introduce the participants to the fundamental aspects of entrepreneurship as a process with product, service, and/or business model innovations as outcomes. We will learn about relevant criteria to distinguish different types of innovations and explore the question of how “new-to-the-world” successful innovations should (not) be. Furthermore, we will discuss models describing certain trajectories that innovations typically follow in terms of (technological) performance, adoption, and diffusion in social systems. By the end of the session, participants will understand the principles of innovation, the difference between inventions and innovations, as well as the key features of different types of innovations and their diffusion patterns.

      SESSION 2: Leveraging network effects, within and across country borders | Tuesday, May 23

      Spurred by increasing use of digital technologies and platforms, sustainable business models and their underlying product and/or service innovations are increasingly prone to produce certain demand side externalities determining their diffusion potential. In this session, we will focus on network externalities as powerful driver of innovation diffusion and key factor determining the successful scaling of business model innovations. We will explore different types of network effects, their antecedents, and their consequences for companies, industries, and societies. By the end of the session, participants will understand the link between specific features of innovations and the type and strength of the network effects they produce, including the role of national country borders as potential impediments to leveraging sustainable business model innovations featuring network effects internationally.

      SESSION 3: Business Models as Conceptual Frames and Practical Tools | Wednesday, May 24

      In order to either re-invent existing business models to align them with today’s grand societal challenges or design new business models that tackle some specific societal grand challenge, one must first understand the concept of business models and learn to analyse them. In this first session, we will introduce the participants to the basic concepts, frameworks, and theories on business models. By the end of this session, participants are able to identify, describe, and analyse existing business models to find out about their strengths and weaknesses and the necessity as well as potential to change them in ways to address and tackle societal challenges.

      SESSION 4: Sustainable Business Models | Thursday, May 25

      Sustainable business models integrate the creation of economic, environmental, and social value. A sustainable business model differs from a conventional business model in that it creates, delivers, and captures value for all stakeholders without depleting the natural, economic, and social capital it relies on. In this session, we will introduce the participants to different types of sustainable business models and develop criteria to choose the one that may fit best with a company’s mission. We will furthermore discuss trends that are disrupting different industries (e.g., the sharing economy, disruptive innovation, digitalization) and explore how these trends require, or have enabled, new sustainable business models to emerge, such as circular business models, hybrid organizations, or collaborative business models. By the end of this session, participants have acquired a comprehensive overview of the different types of sustainable business models and can identify which of these business models may be best suited for a company, or industry.

      SESSION 5: Sustainable Business Model Innovation | Friday, May 26

      In established firms, sustainable business model innovation refers to the process of either (1) introducing a sustainable business model to the firm’s existing business model portfolio (by diversification), or (2) innovating the firm’s core business model to increase its positive (or reduce its negative) impact on society and/ or environment. In this session, we will discuss the various challenges when attempting to design sustainable business models. We will furthermore explore possible solutions to these challenges. By the end of this session, participants will understand the different ways in which sustainable business model innovation can be successfully managed and implemented.

      Lecturers: Assoc. Prof. Björn Schmeisser, Assoc. Prof. Tina Saebi

      When: May 22 - May 26, 2023 | 1pm - 4:30pm

    • (Online) Deep Dive by Tilburg University: Ecosystems & Purpose-Oriented Networks

      In this additional input session, you will learn how understanding and linking ecosystems is crucial for NGO ventures like Teach for Austria. Participants in such ecosystems may be customers, volunteers, sponsoring organizations, and more. Considering each stakeholder’s needs, expectations, and interests as well as bringing them together is key to the development of a successful business model.

      Lecturer: Prof. Patrick Kenis 

      When: June 14, 2023 | 5pm - 8pm

    • (Online) Design Thinking Bootcamp

      Applying the knowledge acquired in the online modules alongside prior competencies and experience, the challenges that Teach For Austria faces will be tackled from a design thinking perspective. Together with fellow learners from diverse academic and professional backgrounds, participants will develop new ideas for the NGO within its educational ecosystem. Among other things, you will investigate how to revitalize and optimize the NGO's structures and positioning, explore untapped potential, and creatively think of possible new programs or services.

      On the last day, the final results will be jointly presented to and discussed with experts and stakeholders from ENGAGE.EU and Teach For Austria.

      When: June 22-24 + 26, 2023
      Thursday, June 22 | 5pm - 8pm
      Friday, June 23 | 4pm - 8pm 
      Saturday, June 24 | 10am - 6pm
      Monday, June 26 | 5:30pm - 8pm

    • The Bigger Picture

      ENGAGE.EU is an alliance of leading European universities in business, economics, and the social sciences that strives to equip European citizens with the skills and competencies they need to address major societal challenges. These existing and emerging challenges, such as digitization and AI, climate change, aging societies, and migration, must be successfully tackled to safeguard a sustainable and prosperous future. The people who can make this happen are those with an innopreneurial mindset - a recently coined term to describe someone with entrepreneurial skills, sustainability-focused professional experience, and innovativeness. In short: you!

Contact Sophie Eberhard if you have further questions or need additional information!


Prof. Dr. Patrick Kenis

Professor at Tilburg University

- Health & Education
- Management & Organization

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Tina Saebi Portrait

Tina Saebi

Associate Professor at NHH Norwegian School of Economics

- Organization & Management
- Business Models & Innovation
- International Strategy

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Björn Schmeisser Portrait

Björn Schmeisser

Associate Professor at NHH Norwegian School of Economics

- Strategy & Organization of Multinational Corporations 
- International Business & Management
- Global Strategy 

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