Lately, a cohort of 36 college students from MIT and universities throughout Hong Kong got here collectively for the MIT Entrepreneurship and Maker Abilities Integrator (MEMSI), an intense two-week startup boot camp hosted on the MIT Hong Kong Innovation Node.
“We’re very excited to be in Hong Kong,” mentioned Professor Charles Sodini, LeBel Professor of Electrical Engineering and college director of the Node. “The dream all the time was to carry MIT and Hong Kong college students collectively.”
College students collaborated on six groups to fulfill real-world business challenges via motion studying, defining an issue, designing an answer, and crafting a marketing strategy. The expertise culminated within the MEMSI Showcase, the place every workforce offered its course of and distinctive answer to a panel of judges. “The MEMSI program is a good demonstration of necessary worldwide instructional objectives for MIT,” says Professor Richard Lester, affiliate provost for worldwide actions and chair of the Node Steering Committee at MIT. “It creates alternatives for our college students to resolve issues in a selected and distinctive cultural context, and to find out how improvements can cross worldwide boundaries.”
Assembly an pressing problem within the journey and tourism business
The Hong Kong Airport Authority (AAHK) served as this system’s business companion for the third consecutive yr, difficult college students to conceive modern concepts to make passenger journey extra customized from end-to-end whereas growing connectivity. Because the journey business resuscitates profitability and welcomes crowds again amidst ongoing delays and labor shortages, the necessity for a extra passenger-centric journey ecosystem is pressing.
The airport is the third-busiest worldwide passenger airport and the world’s busiest cargo transit. College students skilled an insider’s tour of the Hong Kong Worldwide Airport to realize on-the-ground orientation. They noticed firsthand the advanced logistics, prospects, and constraints of working with a workforce of 78,000 staff who serve 71.5 million passengers with distinctive wants and itineraries.
All through this system, the cohort was coached and supported by MEMSI alumni, journey business mentors, and MIT school equivalent to Richard de Neufville, professor of engineering programs.
The temper contained in the open-plan MIT Hong Kong Innovation Node was nonstop energetic pleasure for your complete program. Every of the six groups was composed of scholars from MIT and from Hong Kong universities. They discovered to work collectively underneath time strain, develop options, obtain suggestions from business mentors, and iterate across the clock.
“MEMSI was an enriching and superb alternative to find out about entrepreneurship whereas collaborating with a various workforce to resolve a posh drawback,” says Maria Li, a junior majoring in pc science, economics, and knowledge science at MIT. “It was unbelievable to see the concepts we initially got here up with as a workforce flip right into a single, thought-out answer by the top.”
Unsurprisingly given MIT’s give attention to piloting the most recent know-how and the tech-savvy tradition of Hong Kong as a worldwide middle, many workforce tasks centered on digital actuality, apps, and wearable know-how designed to make passengers’ journeys extra individualized, environment friendly, or satisfying.
After observing geospatial patterns charting passengers’ motion via an airport, one workforce realized that many individuals on lengthy journeys purpose to fulfill health objectives by consciously getting their every day steps energy strolling the expansive terminals. The workforce’s prototype, FitAir, is a great, biometric token built-in digital coach, which plans strolling routes inside the airport to advertise passenger well being and wellness.
One other workforce famous a typical frustration amongst frequent vacationers who handle a number of mileage rewards program profiles, passwords, and standing reviews. They proposed AirPoint, a digital pockets that consolidates completely different rewards packages and presents passengers with all their airport redemption alternatives in a single place.
“At the moment, there isn’t any loser,” mentioned Vivian Cheung, chief working officer of AAHK, who served as one of many judges. “Everyone seems to be a winner. I’m a winner, too. I’ve discovered lots from the showcase. A number of the concepts, I imagine, can actually turn into a enterprise.”
Cheung famous that in simply 12 days, all groups noticed and solved her group’s ache factors and efficiently designed options to deal with them.
Greater than a contest
Though most of the fashions pitched are creative sufficient to doubtlessly form the way forward for journey, the principle focus of MEMSI isn’t to behave as one more startup problem and incubator.
“What we’re actually specializing in is giving college students the power to be taught entrepreneurial pondering,” explains Marina Chan, senior director and head of schooling on the Node. “It’s the dynamic expertise in a extremely related setting that makes being in Hong Kong really distinctive. When college students can adapt and apply idea to a global context, it builds deeper cultural competency.”
From an aerial view, the boot camp produced many entrepreneurs within the making and lasting friendships, and respect for different cultural backgrounds and working environments.
“I discovered the overarching means of make a startup pitch, all the best way from thought technology, market analysis, and making enterprise fashions, to the pitch itself and the presentation,” says Arun Wongprommoon, a senior double majoring in pc science and engineering and linguistics. “It was all a black field to me earlier than I got here into this system.”
He mentioned he gained great respect for the startup world and the pure exhausting work and collaboration required to get forward.
Spearheaded by the Node, MEMSI is a collaboration among the many MIT Innovation Initiative, the Martin Belief Heart for Entrepreneurship, the MIT Worldwide Science and Expertise Initiatives, and Challenge Manus. Learn more about applying to MEMSI.