In May, BusinessKitchen had the privilege to host a three-day meeting between universities and business people from five countries and six universities including Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and Norway. The topic of the meeting, was the new international company project concept; International Business Corridor - IBC, originally initiated at the Business Kitchen in the cooperation with the University of Oulu and Oulu University of Applied Sciences.
IBC is a unique and innovative concept that aims to increase the level of working life relevance in higher education, to develop cooperative relationships between universities and companies, and to promote a genuine internationalization of students and businesses. IBC was originally born from the idea of exploiting the universities’ networks to aid companies’ growth and internationalization.
In IBC, international student teams examine real case companies’ market potential in the selected target market during a 10-week project. The core idea of the IBC concept is that the student team always involves local knowledge that is of paramount to successful internationalization.
The IBC concept has been piloted together between seven pioneering universities in Europe during 2016-2017 with the support of the EU’s Regional Development Fund. The University of Oulu, Oulu University of Applied Sciences, Pforzheim University from Germany, the Fontys University of Applied Sciences from the Netherlands, the Artesis Plantijn University College from Belgium, the Arctic University of Norway and the Luleå University of Technology from Sweden has taken part of the piloting. During the pilot, the partners have been developing the concept, harmonizing the working methods between different universities and finding synergies to enable co-operation. Pilot companies and students have also played a key role in developing the concept.
The results of the pilots have been good and both companies and students have experienced valuable information and know-how through the projects. Students get real-life work experience of international teamwork and business development. Companies receive valuable information to support decision-making and the ability to network with future professionals. For universities, piloting the IBC has been a unique opportunity to develop new and innovative approaches to teaching and learning and to stand out from other higher education institutions.
The purpose of May’s meeting in Oulu was to establish IBC co-operation and to set common future directions. During the meeting, the future goals and actions were defined. As a result of the meeting, partners committed to further developing the concept and a common objective was to integrate the IBC concept into the universities’ curriculums. The action plan also includes an effort to apply to the Erasmus + Knowledge Alliance program 2018 in order to develop an IBC model that can be shared with other organizations in Europe.