As part of the three-year project, led by the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS) in partnership with Columbia Global Centers | Amman, winning student teams from the Open Start-up Tunisia (OST) competition went on to compete at the Columbia Venture Competition on campus in New York on April 6. During the week of April 2-6, they attended a week-long suite of activities on campus including workshops, lectures and site visits.
The aim of this project is to strengthen the culture of entrepreneurship in engineering education in Tunisia. In 2017, the Center supported a number of events for this project to build capacity of an emerging community of entrepreneurs in Tunisia, and facilitate their access to experienced coaches and educators from Tunisian universities as well as from the start-up business community. This included a mentorship program led by Bob Dorf, author of The Startup Owner's Manual, in fall 2017, where a local pool of Tunisian educators including practitioners and faculty were mentored to become trainers and improve coaching of students competing at the OST. As mentors, they were provided tools on how to nurture the development of a small-grown entrepreneurship culture that is student driven and faculty supported. This was followed by a three-day ideation camp held in Tunisia where multi-disciplinary student teams, matched with two educators each, were trained on the importance of sustainable development goals, design thinking, business model canvas, market discovery, teamwork and pitching. Six of the student teams who went on to compete at the OST in January 2018, were matched with graduate students from the Columbia Business School for peer support and to build their entrepreneurial behavioral competencies and soft skills. The winning team is going on to compete at the Columbia Venture Competition on campus in New York on April 6.