Challenged-Based Learning: Learning and innovating together with students

With Challenge-Based Learning, we present the entrepreneur's real-life challenges to students. The goal is to innovate and learn together.

Challenged-Based Learning: Learning and innovating together with students

What do you do as an entrepreneur with emerging technologies? Do you face the challenge head on or do you lack the knowledge and time to research how e.g. Artificial Intelligence might benefit your organisation? With Challenge-Based Learning (CBL), we present the entrepreneur’s real-life challenges to students. The goal is to innovate and learn together. This allows both the student and the entrepreneur to acquire valuable knowledge and skills for their respective futures.

19 November 2019

Our 21st-century world is “challenge-based,” says Wilbert Pontenagel, program manager at    Novel-T. “That is why we are focusing more and more on integrating real-life challenges into our current education. At the University of Twente, for example, we have events such as Create Tomorrow, Curious-U Summerschool and creative hackatons (Creathons), during which students work on contemporary issues in multidisciplinary teams. This results in innovative solutions and surprising insights and it prepares students for their future in society.”

Implementing new technology

“Their economic and social relevance is what makes these projects so interesting to students,” innovation broker Marike Boertien explains. These past few years, Marike was involved in the High Tech Knowledge Transfer project, which was recently completed with excellent results. With this project, students and researchers brought knowledge of Smart Industry and Medical Technology to businesses in the east of the Netherlands. “Entrepreneurs were not only in need of up-to-date knowledge, but also wanted help with utilising this knowledge. The student teams worked on a case for four months. For businesses, this is a way to quickly innovate and implement new technology.”

Applying for a challenge

“With the InGenious initiative, for which we laid the foundation with the High Tech Knowledge Transfer project, we will go one step further than we have thus far,” Marike continues. “Together with entrepreneurs, we formulate ‘challenges’ based on their own, sometimes latent, practical questions. For these challenges, we do not primarily search for students with a relevant background. Instead, we look mostly for motivation.” Wilbert adds: “Knowledge is not the most crucial aspect, since that is widely available. Challenge-Based Learning is about developing skills for the future, such as working together in a multidisciplinary team and conceptual thinking. More than ever, entrepreneurs are looking for these skills to improve their organisation. For entrepreneurs, having such an involved team at their disposal is very exciting. The company and its student team are learning, discovering and developing together. Instead of the results ending up in some drawer, they help you take your business to the next level,” Wilbert says.

Ready for the future

“At the moment, we have a team working on a challenge presented by HaviTravel,” Marike says. “This company wants to make FC Twente’s team bus future-proof and have it be an example of sustainable transport and an improved user experience. This is an interesting challenge that may result in all kinds of innovations.” In this manner, Challenge-Based Learning lets us work on pioneering education and innovation at the same time.

Start with Novel-T SMART

“When entrepreneurs come to us with a challenge, we help them clearly define their innovation need. Next, we translate that into a project. We do so together with the team of Novel-T SMART, in collaboration with lecturers and knowledge carriers from the UT and/or Saxion,” Wilbert explains. “Who knows? Your challenge might be perfect for the world’s biggest student think tank Create Tomorrow, or perhaps the best results can be achieved with a Creathon. Other options include a final thesis project, a second job or a study-related project. Whatever your challenge is, at SMART we will determine the right approach to tackle it.”

What is your challenge?

Will a student team soon be taking on your challenge? Present your challenge to the team of Novel-T SMART.


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7500 AE Enschede
T: +31 (0)53 483 6800

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T: +31 (0)53 483 6800

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We are supporting students, startups en scale-ups and to strengthen the innovative power of the regional SME and large companies. Successful innovation starts with us. Do you have a question, an idea or do you want to work together? Let us know!
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