The Professional MBA Entrepreneurship & Innovation and its new practical elements
When you ask aspiring MBA students—anywhere in the world—why they decided to study for an MBA degree, their answers will, generally speaking, be the same: Apart from enhanced compensation and career prospects and the acquisition of new knowledge, the practical relevance of their training and the network are particularly important to them. The WU Executive Academy's Professional MBA Entrepreneurship & Innovation, which, as of fall 2019, will feature a number of new practical elements, is a prime example of how close to the real world an MBA can actually be. In the following, Prof. Nikolaus Franke, the program's academic director, explains what the new elements will be and, more importantly, what benefits they will bring to students.
Innovation and the oft-quoted “entrepreneurial spirit” are not the result of chance. They are driven by entrepreneurs—people who identify innovation and business opportunities earlier than others, who have a keen appreciation of the big picture and who, with passion and the right tools, capitalize on these opportunities. “The best idea is useless if no one knows how to put it into practice successfully. Of course, our students are interested in developing their theoretical understanding of methods, strategies and the wider context, but, above all else, they want to derive utmost practical benefit from their training. And it is with this concern in mind that we have realigned the program with a view to making it as practically relevant as possible, so as to enable participants to cope even better with their day-to-day tasks,” says Nikolaus Franke. In the future, program participants will benefit from these additional practical elements in the curriculum:
The first module will set the scene for the specialization following the business-core part of the program. What can participants expect, what can they achieve, how can they contribute to the program entrepreneurially speaking? The module structure and the practical elements will be outlined to students, and they will be introduced to the “Study your own project” opportunity. Apart from that, the boot camp offers participants an ideal opportunity to connect with both the WU Entrepreneurship Center and the Institute for Entrepreneurship & Innovation, which, in turn, will allow them to build a network of excellent contacts within the Viennese start-up community.
The idea behind this accompanying practical project is to provide participants with an opportunity to apply the theory they have learned to their own business cases, challenges or projects. The projects can deal with an entrepreneurial challenge (e.g. developing a new business model) or focus on a start-up topic (e.g. drawing up a business plan). Following a counseling session during the E&I boot camp, students will be able to work on their innovation projects as part of the post assignments of the individual modules and/or in the context of their master's theses.
Theory and practice have to go hand in hand. Hence, carefully selected academics and experienced practitioners teach alongside one another in the program. In every module, start-ups, VCs, top managers or other experts from the entrepreneurship ecosystem present best practices as well as case examples and are available for individual feedback sessions. Apart from that, students will develop their entrepreneurial skills as far as pitching, storytelling and negotiating are concerned.
Students will gain exclusive access to business accelerators such as WeXelerate or Talent Garden, where they will be able to make contact with start-ups and international corporate partners, allowing them to network with the community on the ground in an out-of-class setting, develop ideas together and advance their own projects.
At the end of the specialization, students will have the opportunity to once again test their practical skills. During the “Demo Day”, those who intend to present their application projects/master's theses on the occasion of the “E&I Touchdown”, the big end-of-term event, will be able to go through their pitches with their peers and experienced coaches. At the E&I Touchdown, they will have 45 seconds to convince an exclusive audience of some hundred investors, consultants, entrepreneurs and students of the merits of their projects.
Co-organized by the WU Executive Academy and the WU Entrepreneurship Center, this event will offer students an opportunity to gather a wealth of information regarding a potential career in entrepreneurship. In the course of individual coaching sessions and expert chats, participants will be able to interact with investors, venture capitalists, business angels and growth-hacking experts. More than 30 experts from the fields of entrepreneurship and marketing, investor search and finance as well as commerce and law will provide them with tips, feedback and impetus during one-on-one “dates”.
The WU Entrepreneurship Center is WU Vienna's hub for all matters relating to entrepreneurship. Program participants will benefit not only from a wide variety of contacts, presentations and workshops but also from having access to various networks. This is the place to go for aspiring entrepreneurs looking for specific advice, support or partners.
Program participants will gain access to a research center that is an international leader with a focus on open and user innovation (www.e-and-i.org), giving them an opportunity not only to connect directly with high potentials from master's and bachelor's programs but also to sponsor them and have them work on real projects from their own professional practice. It will also be possible for students to serve as coaches and lecturers.
If you would like to learn more about entrepreneurship or the Professional MBA Entrepreneurship & Innovation please, click here!