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University de Montevideo Student Priorities

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UNIVERSIDAD DE MONTEVIDEO

Overview

The University of Montevideo (UM) started off in 1986 as the Institute of Business Studies of Montevideo (IEEM). Some months later the IEEM started a postgraduate in business law. From there and on the IEEM continued incorporating new courses mixing law and business, such as seminar in management, business administration, master's degree in business law and much more.

It wasn't until April 29 of 1997 that the IEEM was approved to function as a university and from there it's known as the Universidad de Montevideo. ​

Now the UM has 9 different schools including schools for graduate students:

  • Law School
  • Humanities & Education
  • School of Business Science and Economics
  • School of Engineering
  • School of Communication
  • Humanities and Teaching School
  • School of Biomedical Sciences (For graduate students)
  • Business School (IEEM)
  • Center for tertiary training in services and innovation


Actually the UM offers 43 different major for undergraduate students and 22 majors for graduate studentsand 8 degrees, through the colleges listed above, also it has been ranked the best university in Uruguay by the QS ranking.

The number of professors and faculty members fostering innovation and entrepreneurship has been growing in the last couple of years. This whole new spirit lead to the creation of Initium. This center has created different courses and workshops stimulating students and professors to develop new skills and attitudes with an innovation and entrepreneurship mindset. It is also a place for connection between students, alumni entrepreneurs, accelerators and other extracurricular entities.There are also other courses that stimulate innovation in their areas, such as Engineering Labs or Investment Projects for example.

STRATEGIES TO IMPROVE INNOVATION AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP CULTURE AMONG UM STUDENTS (2019)

Strategy One: UMornings: Empowering students

After researching and understanding students in our university we were not surprised to find out they feel demotivated and reluctant to get involved in most activities, including the ones that have to do with their education.

Since we understood a crucial part of the I&E culture is to feel empowered, we strongly believe that our first strategy should focus on tackling this issue. Students need to be inspired in order to achieve great things, this is why we propose a free event where students and staff can be inspired by hearing someone's story. The power of storytelling can have a positive impact on students and provide the perfect environment for entrepreneurship to flourish.

For this idea to happen we would need a room available at a given time for a previously selected speaker to join us. We strongly believe that offering food produced and manufactured by different small student ventures would be valuable for both, the event and them. While researching we discovered an abundance of this type of small businesses and we think that forging strategic alliances with them can not only boost their growth but also show students that being an entrepreneur is a highly supported career option by Universidad de Montevideo.

We expect that these motivational and inspirational talks improve the perception of I&E in our university. It would be ideal to do these twice a month. 

Step #1: Talk to Romina Dominzaín to obtain the support from Initium and gather contact information to select speakers. Florencia would handle this task.

Step #2: Talk to the people in charge of arranging schedules and classrooms to ask for an available room in the selected date. It is crucial to make sure the room is cleared and eating and drinking is allowed. Rodrigo would handle this task.

Step #3: Talk to the entrepreneurs in order to sell them the idea. Emanuel would handle this task.

Step #4: Start the marketing and communication strategy to attract people. Florencia would handle this task.

Step #5: Launch the first UMorning Event.

Strategy Two: Customizing Faculty Info

While researching why students knew, overall,  little to none about I&E we found a deeper problem. Communication through out our University is not at its best. Students in our school do not know most of the what our University has to offer, including subjects, events and more. We realized that there is a huge amount of data that is not reaching the people that would appreciate it and make the most out of it.

We believe this is because students´s interests and needs are not taken into consideration when it comes to communicating new courses, events or student initiatives.

If this was taken care of, students would have a better chance to get to know people with similar interests and, not only generate new connections that could foster I&E through out campus, but also make the best out of their University experience.

We propose to merge information and technology to create a database with the students´s likes and passions. This will allow for automation in the area of communication leading to better targeting when sending info by email. In other words, if the correct people received the correct information we could create new and better opportunities.  

Step #1: Talk to the IT Department to make possible this automatization. Emanuel would handle this task.

Step #2: Design a standardized way to gather the student's needs and passions. Rodrigo would handle this task.

Step #3: Teach the new system to the people in charge of spreading the information making sure they understand this will in no way replace their jobs, only make them easier. Édina would handle this task.

Step #4: Implement the system.

Strategy Three: Let's Take Recycling Seriously

Montevideo has a huge problem regarding waste. In 2017 a local newspaper published that the place where our city displays waste will exceed its capacity in no more than 5 years. Currently our University does not have an efficient recycling program and it’s not focusing on impacting our community and conscientizing its students and staff, that are as well citizens.

After LOOP, Semana de la Innovación, in which we brought to the University a social project called “Resuena”, everybody got aware of a problem no one had realized before. Aiming to spread a 360° message of sustainability, LOOP allied with that key partner to foster a never seen environmental awareness program on it’s participants and staff. As previously stated, Montevideo as a whole, is facing a deep problem related to the limited capacity of trash dumps.

With the goal in mind to generate change, Resuena put 10 recycle bin stations with their corresponding banners along the building to classify the trash in three simple categories:

  • Organic waste
  • Recyclable stuff
  • Mixed trash


Even though 3 categories is not quite enough to make a correct classification of the trash, it’s a great beginning for a country with a poor, but slowly increasing culture of recycling. Nevertheless, it was utterly surprising how people, participants and authorities reacted positively to this initiative.

We think that environmental awareness is a vital matter and, as agents of change, it’s part of our duty to lead by example and get our peers into those small habits that create a better world for all of us every day. Thus, knowing that this action is likely to be well accepted by all students and it’s potential to open a wide new range of innovative ideas, our proposal is to make a win-win alliance with Resuena in the short run.

Step #1: Arrange a meeting with Antonio Carvalho, the leader of Resuena and manager of a local high school. Florencia would handle this task.

Step #2: Find people who can pick up the recyclable stuff and contact them. Édina would handle this task.

Step #3: Use Antonio’s guidance to understand the potential recycling hotspots along schools. Rodrigo would handle this task.

Step #4: Elaborate a complete budget with the cost of implementation of both, recycling stations and teaching banners. Also, start our compost with help of Lombriz urbana. Édina would handle this task.

Step #5: Present a campaign and workshop to instruct interested students, staff and authorities. Making people feel into this change will definitely make it last. Emanuel would handle this task.

Strategy Four: Transform The Canteen Into a Collaborative Space

Universidad de Montevideo faces an intrinsic problem when it comes to space. Our findings revealed that there is not enough space in general. Classrooms are crowded, open public spaces are not enough, the canteen is small and not practical and, most importantly, there is no space to work on projects. Moreover, we got to know the real possibilities regarding budget. Reality is, our University does not have the funding to involve itself in a bigger project. More research into the causes of the problem made us realize what we could tackle effectively was the way spaces were being used. We then decided that, in order to foster the I&E culture, we could reorganize and rethink already existent places.

We believe that collaboration between both, random people and peers, does have a deep impact in people’s sense of community. According to our findings, many people don’t use their schoolspaces to study or interact because, due to several reasons, they don’t find on it what they need.     

These are some of the insights we found as well as some of the ideas we came up with during our design thinking process:

  • Foster shared places like the Ping Pong and mini-soccer areas.
  • To have long tables at the canteen and the patio to make students seat together and promote interaction.
  • The need for a space of Co-work (considering the evident lack of space we are facing).
  • People want more multidisciplinary interaction through taking subjects of other areas of knowledge.
  • The canteen stays behind the high level of service in every school.


After a long and challenging process of understanding not obvious relationships between people’s insights (interest of knowing new people and working with them) and the possibilities of a short of space institution, we ended up in a simple but different solution.

Why does UM canteens have small four-people tables instead of bigger furniture?

Integrating both, people's interests and the way we would like our canteen display be like, we redesigned the space to be more collaborative and teamwork-friendly through acquisitions of longer tables.

Redesigned in this way, it is a new opportunity to create a space for people to spend their free time as well as work in big teams or even interact with random students seated close to them. We think that, with a little investment, and no bigger space requirements, this is a simple but perfect solution to foster a sense of unity amongst students. And so, sooner than later, will generate an I&E-friendly place and a collaborative mindset, both powered by a change on the display and a few other details.

Step #1: Re-emphasize with users. Have a deeper understanding of the space needs along the day. Florencia would handle this task.

Step #2: Understand the space capacities prototyping as much displays as possible until we find out the right one (drawing with chalk in the floor is a great and cheap option). Rodrigo would handle this task.

Step #3: Estimate a budget to make the acquisitions we found out on previous step. Édina would handle this task.

Step #4: Find a temporary place to storage the old furniture until we can sell it. Unless the university wants to keep it or do anything else. Rodrigo would handle this task.

Step #5: Present the project to potential sponsors to make the economic effort easier. Emanuel would handle this task.

STRATEGIES TO IMPROVE INNOVATION AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP CULTURE AMONG UM STUDENTS (2018)

Strategy One: Recycle a room into a Makerspace called i-room

 Our university faces, nowadays, a problem related to the subjects available for students. Each major and school counts with its own subjects offered to students and they do not have the possibility to choose courses from other schools. As a matter of facts, a student majoring in law is not able to take classes about Innovation or Entrepreneurship, for instance. Therefore, we propose to create a Makerspace in order to solve this problem. A room from one of our campuses´ building would be recycled by students into a place where projects could be developed. Also, free short-term courses on Design Thinking, creativity and other topics related to I&E would be offered for students who are interested and willing to start working on their own projects.

 - Step #1:Talk to the people in charge of arranging schedules and classrooms in order to ask the donation of a room for this purpose. Claudiowill handle this task, at the beginning of April.

- Step #2: Create a campaign in order to form a group of students who volunteer on recycling the materials available and creating new furniture for the Makerspace. Juanwill handle this task, and Juan’ll organise them at the end of April.

- Step #3: Start building the new materials and working on the donated room. Guillermowill handle this task, and Lucia will organise them in May.

- Step #4: Search for sponsors in order to equip the room with new technology. Claudio will handle this task. We hope to do this at the end of May.

- Step #5: Talk to Maria Martha Passadore, academic coordinator and teacher, in order to ask her to be in charge of conducting the introductory courses. Sofiawill handle this task. We hope to do this in June.

- Step #6: Launch the i-room to the community of students. Diegowill handle this task. We hope to do this by the end of June

Strategy Two: Online courses for teachers about I&E

From the analysis of the Landscape Canvas, we were surprised with the amount of teachers which lack of formation and information regarding I&E. Therefore, we propose to create a mandatory online course for all teachers. It would be online so they could handle it considering their convenience and regarding their working schedule. In order to complete the course, teachers would have to form groups and also contact students in order to create a project, which would be presented to the university, solving an specific problem proposed. Indeed, teachers would not only gain insight about I&E topics, but would also develop new skills and get to know better their students. Furthermore, strong alliances could be formed from this challenge.

- Step #1:Talk to Maria Passadore in order to approve and design the course. Carolina will handle this task, between 1st of April and 20th of April.

- Step #2: Ask the department in charge of the web sistem to create a platform where the course would be developed. Gala will handle this task, and the meeting will be done in May.

- Step #3: Set a meeting for each school with all the teachers to launch the course and explain its importance. Diego will handle this task. We hope to do this at the middle of June when courses of the semester are finished.

 Strategy Three: Form an I&E club

Interest on I&E is difficult to find among the students at our university. Therefore, we propose to form an I&E club to solve this problem. This club would have several tasks to complete in order to increase the amount of students interested on innovation and entrepreneurship, as we consider the lack of interest is explained by the absence of promotion. To begin with, the club would be in charge of organizing campaigns, talks and events to attract more students to become members. Secondly, it would launch different competitions, through the year time, which would propose solution to companies´ problems or university´s issues. Finally, they would create an online multimedia library open to all students, containing films, books, videos, podcasts, work calls, reports, interviews, or any material on I&E. In this way, students can immerse themselves on I&E topics at their convenience.

- Step #1:Talk to the authorities in order to receive their approval for the club formation. Claudiowill handle this task, between 5th of April and 13 of April.

- Step #2: Create the club, the initial members would be the 12 fellows our university which would be in charge of adding members. Lucia will handle this task, at the beginning of May.

- Step #3: Start communicating its existence and working on the tasks named before. Gala will handle this task. We hope to do this at the end of May.

 Strategy Four: Re-validate mandatory internships

From the interviews done to students recently, we found out that they do not have much free time in order to spend working on their projects. In other words, students spend most of the day at the university facilities taking lessons, and when they reach their homes they have quite a lot to work on and study for the the rest of the week. Furthermore, most majors have mandatory internships every year of study for the holidays, and as a matter of facts, students do not have much spare time at that moment either to develop their projects or ideas. All things considered, we propose the introduce a programme which re-validates mandatory internships to students who are working on projects, considering this a possibility for them to develop their entrepreneurial abilities. This programme would have specific requirements and steps in order to make sure students are taking advantage of the experiences. In addition, we consider this could be done by each student twice, as we believe it is essential they also gain hands on experience in the working field.

- Step #1:Talk to the internships department in order to obtain approval and design the programme with its requirements. Carolinawill handle this task, in April.

- Step #2: Communicate the programme to students by visiting each class at the beginning of the next semester and provide them with a contact for further information. Claudiowill be in charge of the organization but all the fellows would visit clases by May.

Strategy Five: Develop I&E content on the UM`s social networks

One problem we can see at our university is the information provided to students and the way to encourage the I&E activities. While working on session 3, we did not find many ways of marketing in the "discover" item. This means that although the offer of innovation and entrepreneurship is varied, communication does not reach students efficiently. Many times what happens is that the students themselves do not pay attention to the graphic material on campus, or the emails sent with invitations to contests.

However, we have severals ways to encourage and take parts of this information process. Nowadays, the youth spend most of their time using social networks like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter so we thought to take advantage of that in our project. Share daily instagram stories in the instagram account from the University is a great idea to begin with.This can be news related to events, talks, subjects, majors. When published, students would be kept up to date with everything that is happening at the university, as well as the events and projects related to I&E that the University offers, even if they do not read the communicational emails as usually.

- Step #1:Talk to the marketing department in order to obtain approval and help them in this process. Juan will handle this task by the end of March.

- Step #2: Launch a strong campaign, which could be a raffle that requires to follow the university´s account in order to participate. Sofia will handle this task through April.

Strategy Six: Create a phone application for school members

In the thread of encouraging the I&E information available (strategy 5), and considering other problems related to communication that our university faces, we thought that creating a platform or phone App could improve the situation.

In this way, students would not be able to see all the news related to I&E displayed, but also to participate in discussions or ask questions. Furthermore, special and attractive notifications could be created in order to announce when important articles or events are posted.

- Step #1:Talk to the people in charge of technology services and also students majoring in communication or systems engineering, and propose the challenge to take part on the programming and design of the app. Galawill handle this task by July

- Step #2: Launch the platform to students. Juanwill handle this task, in September.

Launching Video 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ViDgaLkmmG4 

STRATEGIES TO IMPROVE INNOVATION AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP CULTURE AMONG UM STUDENTS (2017)

Strategy One: Create an entrepreneurial club of UM students

Despite there is a center of leaders, entrepreneurs and innovators at the University, we find a weak innovation and entrepreneurship culture among students, especially because the same students go to the workshops and talks, and there are few. Many students don’t know about the existence of Initium or they don’t take advantage of it privileges. So we think that if create an independent entrepreneurial club with UM students, this could change.

But not any student can get in. It must be something that make this club special. So it would be a pre-selection. The judges (at the beginning would be us: Cecilia, Romina, Matías and Luis) must see an entrepreneurial spirit, and show that they could be an agent of change. Being a member of this club would be also a privilege for the CVs of the members. In the club, the members can work for projects or areas (logistics, communication, fundraising, etc). Then, the same members can reclute students for specific projects. It would count with Initium’s support, but it would be independent, so it must have a director that at the beginning would be probably one of us, or a graduate student. The director can also make recommendation letters for the members which would help in finding a job.

The meetings would take place in ZROOMs (classrooms that already exist in the UM, that is similar to Stanford classrooms) or even better, the Design Thinking Room that we’re also planning to do (see Strategy Six), once a week, the day that all the members agree about.

- Step #1:Talk to UM authorities and see what type of benefits the group members can have. Romina will handle this task by the end of March.

- Step #2: Create a selection commitment who will pick the members of the club by interviews. Romina will handle this task at the beginning of April.

- Step #3: Make a communication campaign to invite members to the club. Cecilia will handle this task at the middle of April.

Despite this was an incredible idea, our university´is ecosystem is not suitable for this solution. At the moment, this idea is being reformulated by fellows 2017 which consider that in the next few years clubs could be developed, but first it is necessary to work harder on the environment

Strategy Two: Students lead social events

Because this is a good way to engage students to this sort of activities. It’s not the same that Initium or UM’s authorities make innovation and entrepreneurship events because it’s less personal and more academic. If UM students made this events, everything would be more fun and informal, and it would attract much more their attention. We see that many students doesn’t even give the opportunity to this new world, because they have a wrong concept about it. This would be a great way to open their minds.

The social events would be organized by the entrepreneurial club that we mentioned at strategy one. We need to be different from the other networking events that already exist in Uruguay, where the entrepreneurs talk between them or with the same people. For that reason we thought about tables, where in each one there is a recognized entrepreneur who is available to answer any question and give advice, and then the guests can rotate to other tables to talk to other entrepreneurs and other guests.

- Step #1: Once the club is created, we will assign mentors to the groups - that the members formed - to guide them with the organization of the events. Romina will handle this task at the beginning of May.

- Step #2: Find sponsors to afford this events. Romina will handle this task at the end of May.

As clubs are not developed yet, events are being communicated by the Initum centre. However, the UIF meetup would be organized by the 2017  fellows, as well as they are in charge of leading other events related to innovation, for example, Romina took part in the selection process of the students taking the UIF training in 2018.

Strategy Three: Create a new course that boost motivation by taking students to a real startup launch in 16 weeks

Strong academic pressure and curricula makes it difficult to have time to explore other projects. This has been a problem that the four of us have experienced but we agree on the fact that time is always a limited resource but motivation is the key to success. We believe this problem has strong connections with the weak student entrepreneurship and innovation culture we have at our campus.

For this reason, our solution to this problem involves a new course that boost motivation by getting the students 100% involved in doing and not just planning. Class projects that end with a powerpoint presentation to the rest of the class have became a classic but no one really cares about the project and hardly ever people get motivated and really involved.

Start Up 01 is a 4,5 credit course, as any other elective, that takes the students to a real startup launch in 16 weeks. Its an applied course that lets the student learn by designing, testing, and develop his team venture.

- Step #1: Talk to María Martha, Business Administration’s coordinator and Josefina Maisonnave, Initium’s director, to find the correct professors to lead this class and make a good programmation. Matias will handle this task at the end of March. 

- Step #2: Talk to the coordinators of all the careers and authorities to add this course in students curricula. It’s important that subjects like “Creativity & Innovation” and “Entrepreneurial initiative” go first. Matias will handle this task at the end of April.

- Step #3: Make a communication campaign to invite students who have the old programme, to take it as an elective course. Matias will handle this task at the end of June.

According to the 2017 fellows, this Strategic Point would be launched on august 2018!!

Strategy Four: Create a mentor’s network that guide entrepreneurs in each step of their projects

Having a mentor that guides entrepreneurs in each step is a great advantage, and a key to successful venture. For the Initium Center to organize this may be difficult, below are the milestones and steps to make this happen.

- Step #1:Finding the mentors.

In April there must be at least 5 mentors.
The idea is to find mentors that have some of the following: knowledge in some area, connections, experience, time, and willingness. One of the ways to do so is by giving incentives to professors. Also in the Initium web site, there can be a volunteer mentoring subscription, open for everybody.

- Step #2:Adding the mentoring feature

The mentoring form in the Initium web site must be developed, by April.
The way students have to find their mentos is through Initium, this is, having to add to the Initium web site a form for students. This can be done by any Computer Science Engineer in the university. It shouldn’t take more that 1 month.

- Step #3: Advertising

From now until it is known
Many students tell us that they didn’t know that the Initium web site existed. So we think that hanging posters in the university it’s a good way to make students informed.

Actually Initium is working on it as this centre counts with the resources required to develop it, but there is no certainty about the moment this project would be offered to students.

Strategy Five: Improve Initium center’s communication so more students can know it and take advantage of it benefits

A known problem is that not many students know all the things that Initium provides, and just some know that Initium had a web site, and if they know they never use it. In Initium’s website there is all kind of information about everything they make. Improving Initium’s center’s communication may go together with making students visit it’s website more often. This is a complex situation, because it involved advertising something that students not usually like.

- Step #1: Hire a publicity agent and receive advices from them. This would be temporary. Matias will handle this task at the end of March.

- Step #2: Have a innovative and fun event that raise the public image of Initium and where the students can understand what Initium can offer but in a creative way with Snapchat for example. Cecilia and Romina will handle this task at the end of May.

An external agency is actually working on the communication methods in order to detect problems and propose solutions.

Strategy Six: Create a Design Thinking Space where UM students can go at any time to work in their projects


Initium center only help students in their first steps of their projects: to make their business plan and find financial support, but it’s difficult to support them after that because of it’s capacity, space and lack of time for the people who work there. If they create a project in the courses that Initium offers, then they don’t have the space and materials to continue it. A Design Thinking Space without fixed classes where any student can work in their projects, at any hour, would be a great solution.

This would take place in Engineering Faculty because we can also solve the problem of Engineering students who feel disconnected from the other faculties, so any student who wants to use it must come to this Faculty. Also we find an interesting space where now are the labs, but if we construct a 2 floors building, we can put all there.
Finally be thought that if Civil Engineering students can help with the construction, it’ll help them to improve their practical work, it’s more personal and it reduces the cost.

- Step #1:Talk to Civil Engineering professors, so we can plan a project with their students to construct the building. Romina will handle this task, between 13th and 17th of March.

- Step #2:Make events to raise money or find sponsors. Cecilia will handle this task, and she’ll organise them in April.

- Step #3:Buy all the materials. Cecilia will handle this task. We hope to do this in July-August.

- Step #4:Make a communication campaign to invite UM students to try it. Cecilia will handle this task. We hope to do this in August-September.

Unfortunately, this idea required an amount of money which the university could not release, considering its priorities. Moreover, building a room for it was not possible considering the space available on campus. As a matter of facts, this project was postponed, and it would be developed when the environment is prepared.

RELATED LINKS

Universidad de Montevideo

Landscape Canvas

Fellows 2017:

Cecilia Tejera

Romina Dominzain

Matias Menendez

Luis Gurmendez

Fellows 2018:

Sofia Baldomir

Claudio Baz

Juan Echartea

Gala Maldonado

Diego Pilosof

Lucia Rodriguez

Guillermo Stock

Carolina Vassallucci

Fellows 2019:

Emanuel Berón

Florencia Macedo

Édina Mendiondo

Rodrigo Sanchez