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When the textile industry of the city of Mataró, Spain started to decline during the 1990’s, the city searched for a new socio-economic development strategy. Developed as a collaboration between key stakeholders, Tecnocampus was established as a hub of education, entrepreneurship and industry, growing to become a key element of a revitalising place-based approach to local challenges. Today, Tecnocampus offers three teaching schools, a business park, and an incubator centre situated on over 50,000 m2 close to the city centre. The design of the campus reflects the goals of this joint project, allowing for easy access and interactions between the different roles and sections of the campus. Tecnocampus has flourished in pursuing its mission is to create an environment of learning, experimentation and growth for both innovative businesses and educators.
Tecnocampus uses innovative teaching methods and a focus on entrepreneurship to create an ecosystem that fosters creativity based in open social and business relationships. Tecnocampus is dedicated to incorporating and expanding interactive learning techniques. The schools train academic staff to teach in engaging and innovative ways while utilizing new technologies. The end result is not only beneficial for student performance but also for the teaching staff, inspiring more creativity.
Tecnocampus also fosters the development of entrepreneurship by encouraging every degree programme to incorporate entrepreneurship courses in their curricula. Students are encouraged to generate new ideas and to be imaginative. These entrepreneurial requirements help to keep the cycle of innovative design-thinking flowing.
Another pathway for the flourishing of innovation is the collaborative relationships established between different degree courses, which opens up opportunities to encourage interdisciplinary learning. An emphasis on collaboration is central to many of the entrepreneurship projects developed by students, working in interdisciplinary teams. Special events such as the Weekend Challenge, a hackathon where student teams compete to develop and present innovative solutions to real-world challenges, provide additional platforms for the emergence of creativity and the fostering collaborative learning.
Bridging the gap between businesses and students
Tecnocampus is a hub of burgeoning relationships: between students from different schools, between students and the opportunities to design and create, and, most importantly, between students and businesses. Important factors in the success of the Tecnocampus are the interactions and collaborations it promotes between students and businesses. For instance, the pre-incubator, allows students to set up and develop a business idea next to the incubator space, providing opportunities to see how real businesses develop and grow. The students of this program can often be mentored by the CEOs of different companies, which gives them hands-on experience in starting a business. Tecnocampus thus seeks to foster continuous relationships between the schools, businesses and the incubator centre, based on an immersive ecosystem approach to learning, working and socializing. Students thus acquire competences that fuse classroom learning with industry experience, enhancing their job readiness.
Impact and moving forward
The creation of Tecnocampus has generated over 500 university-business agreements, the creation of 61 start-ups, and increased the number of daily users and community members within the business park, including both business workers and students. The education approach of Tecnocampus has been very successful, with students winning the acclaimed UPF Emprèn prize for student entrepreneurship in four of the past six years, for example. Tecnocampus has also contributed to a learning and employment cycle for many students, who later establish start-ups or take jobs in the business park that allow them to contribute their experience to new waves of students coming through the schools. Overall, there is much to be learned from Tecnocampus, particularly for small or medium-sized cities or regions that are interested in place-based innovation and development founded on education, employability and entrepreneurship.
Do you want to learn more about Technocampus? Please have a look at the original case study here.
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