Tag Archive for: best practice

Final Pitch Deck@TUL: Students from three faculties join forces to tackle 5G/digital health challenges

Author: Jana Simanova

“Entrepreneurship is a key skill for success in the job market or for developing your own business. Every modern university should develop it for its students. However, such a skill cannot simply be developed in the classroom,” explains Jana Simanová, Vice Dean of Faculty of Economics at TUL. “That is why this winter semester we organised a unique educational experiment at TUL, which brought together students from three faculties – the Faculty of Economics, the Faculty of Mechatronics and the Faculty of Health Studies – to solve interesting projects.”

“We started on 6th October with an Ideathon. During the three-hour event, representatives from T-Mobile, Linet and the Regional Hospital in Liberec presented their innovative challenges to thirty students from the Faculty of Mechatronics, the Faculty of Health Studies and the Faculty of Economics. During the Ideathon, the students questioned the challengers and expert mentors about the details of the problems and known solutions. In the end, they formed 4 teams with representatives from all three faculties and defined the goals of their joint projects and initial proposals for innovative solutions,” says Jana Vitvarová, author of the concept of the 5G Interdisciplinary Innovation Lab at TUL and lecturer of students from the Faculty of Health Sciences.

Over the next two months, the students worked on the solutions in their faculty courses and developed them according to their expertise – from a technical, economic and future user point of view. The work included visits to startup companies or paramedic services, consultations with expert mentors and a one-day hackathon for mechatronics students to come up with a technical concept.

“The biggest challenge for the students was communication within the teams. They didn’t know each other before the course started, they study different disciplines with different timetables and they had to synchronise their work. I think it was a useful lesson for everyone that it is important to respect other professionals and try to understand the perspectives of other disciplines,” says Lenka Koskova Triskova, a lecturer of the students from the Smart Technologies specialisation at Faculty of Mechatronics.

The work of the interdisciplinary teams culminated on 23rd November. In front of a panel of experts, the students presented their solution and business plan.The panel of experts included representatives from innovative technology companies and experts in the field of digitalisation and healthcare. Specifically, the teams tackled issues such as the localisation and online tracking of hospital equipment, communication and messaging between paramedic teams and hospitals, and the monitoring of elderly people with neurodegenerative diseases.

The winner of the first year of the 5G Interdisciplinary Innovation Lab was a team of students who designed a new solution for the paramedic team to share information about patients and the course of interventions between dispatch, hospitals and field teams in dealing with mass disasters. “The most interesting part of the whole work for us was that we were in close contact with paramedics and professional mentors. We knew that we were working to solve a real problem and that we could really make a difference,” says Filip Tichacek, a student at the Faculty of Mechatronics and a member of the winning team. His colleague Antonin Sahula adds: “I told myself that I would study some economics because it is important and as a technician I need to be able to get along with economists if I want to run a company one day. So far I haven’t been interested in it at all”.

“For us, the organisers, the most important thing now is the retrospective and the feedback from the students, so that we can continue to improve in preparing similar forms of teaching,” says Jana Vitvarová, summing up her impressions on behalf of the organisers. “We definitely want to repeat and develop the concept. We all enjoyed connecting students from different faculties – the students and us. For example, the area of smart solutions for cities and a whole range of other ideas are on offer”.

“The whole event could not have taken place without the active participation of the practitioner challengers and expert mentors. We are very grateful to Vit Karvay, Technical Director of the global company LINET, Head of the Science and Research Centre of the Regional Hospital in Liberec Vendula Macháčková, Lukáš Abazid from T-Mobile, Jakub Recek, paramedic, Lenka Horakova, geriatric specialist and Pavel Hübner from Hardwario for their helpful suggestions and excellent cooperation.” concludes Jana Simanová, Vice Dean for Conception and Development of the EF TUL and adding that she hopes the students will continue to develop and improve their projects. A great opportunity is, for example, the participation in the EIT Health Open Innovation Call.

5G Interdisciplinary Innovation Lab bringing together students of technology, natural sciences and economics

Authors: Jana Vitvarova, Lenka Koskova Triskova (Technical University in Liberec)

5G Interdisciplinary Innovation Lab (5GIIL) fosters collaboration among students across diverse fields including economics, technical disciplines, and application domains with a strong emphasize in eHealth. These students come together in teams to collectively create and prepare market-driven solutions that embrace innovation in the 5G and beyond. This best practice draws inspiration from hackathons. However, unlike hackathons, the activities take place over a longer period of time so that students have more time to think about the solution, and it is possible to integrate 5GIIL for eHealth into their regular courses.

In the preparation phase, once suitable courses and students from different disciplines have been selected, there are two main activities:

a) obtain application domain specific challenges from stakeholders from the eHealth sector,
b) form a team of expert mentors from both academia and industry/business who possess the necessary expertise to guide students across all three aspects of their work: domain knowledge, technical skills, and economic and entrepreneurial understanding. 

In the realisation phase, the 5GIIL for eHealth follows the steps below. The activities alternate between instructor-led workshops providing the necessary context for the current step and subsequent independent teamwork. Teams maintain regular contact with mentors and can consult with them about their work at each step.

These steps are

1st Challenges. Presentation of challenges to students and facilitation of teams’ formations. Teams assignment: Choose a challenge and form a multidisciplinary team. 

2nd Ideation. Workshop on ideation techniques. Teams assignment: Suggest possible solutions. 

3rd Prototyping. Workshop on prototyping methods. Team assignment: Develop a prototype solution.

4th Validation. Workshop on validation methods. Teams assignment: Validate the proposed solution.

5th Pitch (to investors). Workshop on how to make a pitch. Teams assignment: Make the best pitch.

6th Retrospective/Feedback. Workshop on retrospective methods. Teams assignment: Make the retrospective and get feedback on your work/pitch.

The 5GIIL for eHealth is meant to be an integral part of specific student’s courses, so it is advisable to reward students for participating in the lab by earning part of the credits from their course. Working in the 5GIIL for eHealth, students develop entrepreneurial and project management skills and strengthen interdisciplinary links that are otherwise difficult to acquire during their studies. They learn by sharing their knowledge. Engineering students bring knowledge of technology, development and production methods. Domain students bring knowledge of the details and needs of the eHealth industry. Economics students bring knowledge of business and marketing principles. Project-based approach, real-life challenges and expert mentorship allow students to work directly with the eHealth industry, gain practical experience and think about the impact their work can have in real-world contexts.

The application of 5G may catalyse the convergence of other modern technologies like AI, IoT, blockchain, virtual reality, and edge computing. By integrating these technologies with 5G, innovators can create ground-breaking solutions with enhanced capabilities and transformative potential.

The pilot 5GIIL for 5G/Digital Health took place in 2023 at the Technical University of Liberec with the support of the EIT HEI Initiative and the Skills2Scale project.

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