DCU Business School Wins International Award for Innovation   

22nd April 2020

Posted In: So In Demand

A DCU Business School initiative that saw all first year business students get involved in the Startup Week Dublin series of events in October 2019 has been recognised with an ‘Innovation that Inspires’ award for its innovative approach to business education by international accreditation body AACSB. DCU Business School is among only 25 global business schools to receive this award in the ‘Innovations that Inspire’ challenge.

An annual initiative by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), the challenge recognises institutions from around the world that serve as champions of change in the business education landscape.

This year’s theme, “Catalysts for Innovation”, emphasises business education’s efforts to elevate entrepreneurial thinking and new business creation.

The Learning Innovation for Enterprise (LIFE) module at DCU involves all first year Business students participating in a series of courses that enable them to appreciate business in all its forms, including startups, small to medium enterprises (SMEs), family-run businesses, social enterprises, global brands and multinationals.

As part of this programme, students participated in Startup Week Dublin, a Dublin City Council week long event that brings together over 3,500 of Dublin’s entrepreneurs, innovators and local leaders over five days and 90 free events to build momentum and opportunity around Dublin’s entrepreneurial and innovative identity.

Students were required to attend one Startup Week event reflecting on the experience as one of their module assignments. Dr Roisin Lyons, module coordinator for LIFE, also acted as university lead for Startup Week and used this role to support the creation of student-focused events.

Multiple student events were developed by collaboration among inter-institution entrepreneurship societies and partners. An estimated 900 students engaged in events during Startup Week Dublin as a result. Events curated for students saw a number of inspiring national and international entrepreneurs share stories of their journey, for example at a Student to StartUp panel event which discussed how starting a company during college years impacts students’ future careers.

Executive Dean of DCU Business School Professor Anne Sinnott (main picture) said, “At DCU Business School we constantly review our academic programmes to ensure that students are learning the most relevant content and receiving the most innovative teaching. We do this by engaging with our industry partners and applying their feedback to develop modules that reflect the latest industry trends coupled with a sound theoretical base. This ensures that our students develop the full set of  skills necessary for successful careers. We’re thrilled to see the students’ participation in Startup Week Dublin as part of the new LIFE programme recognised for its innovative approach to business education.

We developed this programme to encourage students to learn in a very hands-on way, experiencing business from the perspectives of start-ups, social enterprises, family business and  large global brands. By participating in hackathons and initiatives like Startup Week Dublin, students’ teamwork, confidence, communication and creativity skills are honed right from the start of their university studies. Students begin to propose and develop their own solutions to business and social problems and they learn through reflection and active learning.

Business education must always strike a balance between hard and soft skills. Participation in Startup Week Dublin helps our students in both those respects while also helping students to hear directly from entrepreneurs on their startup experience.”

Dr Roisin Lyons, LIFE programme coordinator, commented: “Our initiative aimed to give students these confidence-building opportunities at a scale that could not be achieved in the university alone. We knew that, by collaborating with the wider entrepreneurial ecosystem, we could provide more customized role models and opportunities for our students. In addition, the networking opportunities were everywhere for the industry-ready students. The impact of this initiative was palpable during the week itself, and ripple effects continue to be noted.

During Startup Week, a number of the students won first place at a social innovation hackathon weekend. Others were offered mentorships and internships in the days following startup networking events. Both collaborating entrepreneurship and startup student societies noted a big increase in members following the week of events, with the majority signing up during the events themselves.”

In 2016, DCU Business School was awarded accreditation by AACSB International which is widely recognised as the hallmark of excellence in business education, and has been earned by less than five percent of the world’s business schools including London Business School, Harvard Business School and Stanford Graduate School of Business. DCU Business School is one of three Irish universities to hold this accreditation.