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Skolkovo Tech’s Innovation Workshop underway at MIT

On Aug. 6, the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology (Skolkovo Tech), and MIT kicked off a four-week intensive workshop called the SkTech/MIT Innovation Workshop 2012. The workshop is teaching participants how to bridge the gap between scientific and technological prowess and creating innovative solutions with broad impact.

During the first week, participants plunged into Information and Energy Technologies, the workshop’s primary areas of focus, with a series of hands-on projects. Already the cohort, which include 20 participants from Skolkovo Tech, eight from other Russian universities and six from Asian and European universities, have formed the teams they will work with to solve problems in the fields of energy and/or information over the coming weeks.

The four-week intensive workshop provides a model for future courses that embrace science, technology and innovation. Skolkovo Tech views innovation as the distinguishing feature of a new kind of university.

“Technology is the most fun when we get to play with it,” says Dr. Luis Perez-Breva, MIT lecturer and research scientist who led the team organizing the Innovation Workshop. Perez-Breva worked closely with Skolkovo Tech’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation and with Charles Cooney, the Robert T. Haslam Professor of Chemical Engineering, faculty director of the Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation and SkTech/MIT faculty lead of entrepreneurship and innovation, to create a workshop that would provide students with a chance to prototype innovations and explore the ways they might influence Information and Energy Technology.

“The workshop is intense, but the lectures and labs have inspired me to have a can-do attitude, even if at times being an entrepreneur is daunting,” says Marina Morozova, a participant from Skolkovo Tech.

Participants will learn how to take a concept and transfer it to the market through startups and listen to guest lectures in leadership and ethics so they understand the tradeoffs of the technology they develop.

“The mentoring, coaching and networking has already helped me see that, no matter how good my idea is, I’ll probably have to go back to the drawing board a few times. That’s just the nature of innovation,” says participant Peter Fankhauser from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology.

The curriculum is structured around four types of activities that fuse innovation, entrepreneurship and leadership, including lectures that reconcile technology with systems and impact, hands-on projects that demonstrate prototyping, teamwork and team building, and networking to enhance communication skills. Each team will present their final innovation project to an audience from MIT’s innovation ecosystem.

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