The Contamination Lab represents a contaminating scenario for students of different areas, in which they get in touch with an exciting and enriching environment focused on the development of innovative, entrepreneurial projects. Our goal is to promote the culture of innovation and entrepreneurship, as well as interdisciplinarity and the dissemination of new learning models.
In addition, the CLab is meant to promote the culture of business by actively involving students in a six-month course focused on getting them acquainted with the labour market. We offer students a chance to enhance and spread ideas and inventions which have been created thanks to research studies and knowledge assumed in university settings.
In order to turn an idea into a successful business, we believe we must take into account three aspects:
(a) creation and management of the right team,
(b) raise awareness and acquire business-oriented know-how,
(c) development of the ability to access funds and financing.
With these goals in mind, we crafted:
- a “meeting place/melting pot” which favours the creation of a team and facilitates the meeting between subjects who have specific, complementary skills and knowledge and those who operate in university settings;
- a “cluster of skills” in order to help in the management of the teams and give participants acces to university resources, I.E. laboratories, data centers, databases and patent consultancy;
- a “training center” with the right entrepreneurial resources which allows the promotion and creation of courses and seminars that foster the development of management abilites, problem solving and team working skills;
- a “showcase” that facilitates the access to private funds by the enhancement of specific competences (elevator pitch) related to the ability of drawing venture capitalists’ attention on a specific business model;
- A “connector” for the promotion of the interaction between different incubators, entrepreneurial sponsor institutions, investors networks as well as professional associations and entrepreneurs operating at both domestic and international level.
During the course, participants are going to create a start-up capable of attracting private funding from scratch. The project has to run for about six months; it has been conceived in order to encourage a recursive process of building knowledge, in which participants are going to experience, reflect, think and act.
The project is based on a cycle of seminars and develops in two main stages:
(1) the start-up phase and
(2) the development phase.
During these two steps we aim to create the conditions for a factive testing for nurturing a business concept, beginning with the identification and selection of a working group up to the presentation of the idea to a group of private investors.
The CLab, as a programme of entrepreneurship education, intends to enhance students’ skills to be applied in:
– The integration of managerial and scientific knowledge,
– The development of problem solving and managing skills primarily related to working in a team,
– The analysis of business opportunities linked to given scientific and technological knowledge,
– The acquisition of relational skills and the use of groundbreaking instruments for the presentation of ideas.
Besides that, the CLab improves student’s traditional CVs with a broader offer of optional training activities compared to traditional courses of study. These activities are assessed by conferring additional credits to the students.
Contamination is the backbone of the CLab UniCa project, and takes place in several directions:
(1) among students coming from different courses/faculties/universities who gather in order to raise awareness and mature skills to be usefully applied in the elaboration of innovative business ideas;
(2) between students and lecturers of different departments/disciplines, since contamination is not limited to the CLab but is ideally meant to improve the whole Athenaeum;
(3) with third parties – mainly from the industrial sector (enterprises, startups, investors, chambers of commerce, business associations, etc.) but also institutions and players of the tertiary sector – as key elements for the enhancement of the CLab platform;
(4) with international players, creating partnerships and cooperations in order both to acquire the best practices of innovation in training and creation of content by CLab’s students and build partnerships focused on facilitating the mobility of CLab’s students from and to Italy.
During the experience at CLab Cagliari students from different fields of studies, organized in groups, work together on shared projects, acquiring know-how and both planning and organizational skills, as well as communicative ones.
The course has a duration of six months, from September to February of each year.
The integration of managerial and scientific knowledge
The development of problem solving and managing skills primarily related to working in a team
The analysis of business opportunities linked to given scientific and technological knowledge
The acquisition of relational skills and the use of groundbreaking instruments for the presentation of ideas according to international standards (I.E., the elevator pitch)
The course is reserved to students regularly enrolled in the University of Cagliari and/or recent graduates (no more than 18 months), students enrolled in first and second degree Master courses or doctoral candidates.
The selection of participants does consist neither in the assessment of their own studies nor in the evaluation of specific, academic performances (namely, grade point average, exams completed, and so on), but consists in a test (properly developed in the CLab) focused on the adaptive features of the individual, that highlight the inclination of the candidate for creating and managing a business.
The project has been classified in the field of application and research of Entrepreneurship Education, and is in line with the spirit of creating business culture proper of the the European Commission, which defines the Entrepreneurship Education as the establishment of learning places in which participants can develop the skills and mindset aimed at turning creative ideas into entrepreneurial action.
Furthermore, research studies highlighted the fact that the orientation to business planning, i.e. the development of specific, technical competences related to the creation of businesses is currently being challenged by entrepreneurship education, which sees entrepreneurship as a state of mind. Therefore, a cluster of non-technical skills is fundamental in the process of enterprise deployment.
As a result, the CLab is a programme of entrepreneurship education which focuses both on raising awareness among the students about their own competences and professional inclinations as well as making the primary throughfare for the creation of business (start-up approach) (Bae et al., 2014). Even though the course closes with the creation of a team which has been realizing a feasible business idea capable of growing on the market, the goal of the CLab is to activate a process of entrepreneural education meant to be a continuous path of acquiring and raising awareness and knowledge to be applied in the effective management of a business (Cope, 2003). Moreover, existing research suggests that those involved in processes of business creation are more likely to be successful in developing and managing future enterprises (Politis, 2005), thanks to the ability to generate expertise and learn from routine or critical situations (Cope, 2011). The CLab thus intends to activate this process by recreating the conditions for continuous study and consideration of what has been done in order to overcome challenging tasks following the theoretical assumptions on which thoughtful education is based (Schön, 1983).
From an operational point of view, the learning environment is meant to replicate emotive pressure, ambiguity and uncertainty distinctive of entrepreneurial action (Pittawat e Come, 2007°). Unlike business education courses, this path does not focus on the theoretical aspects of managing business processes, but permits the increase of competences in the field of problem solving related to the issues a team of start-uppers has to face. The course has been created in order to support the students during an experience-based path, applying the learning-by-doing approach (Kolb e Kolb, 2009; Mueller, 2011; Ollila e Williams-Middleton, 2011).