The Garage Lab training approaches allow students to learn how to implement tools and methods that help in discovering, evaluating and realising business ideas. Students with an innovative idea for a business can get input from experts, further develop it to a realistic entrepreneurial dimension and expand their professional and business skills. Using Garage Labs, students have the possibility to introduce their own business ideas and develop them in inter-disciplinary teams within a structured process. The teams, consisting of students from different fields, create an environment similar to real start-up situations with various perspectives, skills, and competences to shape the business idea and implementation. It is a particularly interesting approach for students who are interested in innovation and entrepreneurship and are looking for an exciting formative and educational experience. The teams are supported in each step by instructors and mentors, with the goal of transforming an initial idea into a convincing and concrete business concept. At the end of the experience, the student start-up teams are given the chance to present their business ideas in front of potential investors and experts.
Examples of such approaches can be “Garage” and related declinations (“Garage entrepreneur”, “Start-Up Garage”, “Garage Lab”). In some countries they could have other names like the Startup Sauna (Finland), StartHub (Wageningen) or Contamination Labs (Italy). A Garage in general is a community and physical space for students interested in entrepreneurship to experience first-hand the grit and resilience it takes to start and grow a company. Under the guidance of teachers or mentors, students learn skills like co-creation, leadership, networking and building a team and get a “hands-on” experience from formulating a business idea up to creating a first pitch.
Training may be supported by in-presence and distance tools (e-learning, active learning, etc.).
The Garage Lab will allow students to:
- gain the ability to develop and realise a business idea;
- search for, recognise and evaluate innovative business possibilities;
- develop business ideas using appropriate methods and tools;
- identify customers and their needs;
- analyse and evaluate the environment around a business idea;
- develop sustainable business models;
- apply creativity techniques.
This approach also gives way to gaining complementary skills such as:
- Project management:
- successfully managing innovative projects
- reaching decisions under uncertainty
- managing several different stakeholders at once
- summarising the most important project results in a business proposal
- Team work:
- working in an inter-disciplinary team
- efficiency through recognising and utilising individual strengths of team members
- dealing with various work methods, opinions and perspectives
- lively discussions and interactive workshops
- structuring complex data (project results), presenting them in writing and orally to various target groups