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HSE Opens SAP Innovation Centers for Students

SAP Next-Gen Lab innovation centers, networked with the center at Münster University (Germany) – HSE’s partner university since 2005, have opened at HSE School of Business Informatics (Moscow) and the Faculty of Informatics, Mathematics, and Computer Science (HSE Nizhny Novgorod).

Innovation centers, created at the initiative and with the support of SAP, offer spaces designed to provide the ideal environment for generating new ideas and student creative activity. Students gather there to solve tasks raised by business organizations using design thinking.

Victor Taratoukhine, Professor at the Joint Department with SAP at the School of Business Informatics, and Visiting Professor at Stanford University, says it is vital to create an innovative environment for students, which helps them develop key skills such as design thinking, critical thinking, and empathy, while fostering greater understanding of how enterprises work and the desire to create new businesses.

The concept of project-based education is not new. It was applied in the early 1970s in Western countries, and focuses on offering students an opportunity to demonstrate their skills while working on a real business case.

How it works

Companies (clients) approach universities with an offer to students to find a solution for a specific case in a specified time period. Students led by a supervisor (business or academic expert) work on the case set. Supervisors ensure students’ projects remain in line with the business components of the case and make sure they could be implemented.

For example, the hackathon SAP InnoJam xTech Banking & BootCamp, on applying exponential technologies in banking, was timed to the opening of innovation centers. Representatives of Sberbank, Alfa-Bank, Nordea Bank, Chelyabinvestbank, and more were all present at the event as experts. The participants developed and presented their solutions for improving effectiveness in risk management.

Successful solutions developed via these innovation centers can then be implemented in businesses. Thus, students not only gain experience working on real projects, but they can also receive job offers, and clients get innovative solutions that help them streamline their business.

According to Yury Kupriyanov, SAP University Alliances Country Manager for Russia/CIS, innovation centers offers students a great opportunity to implement their ideas and acquire new skills, as, unfortunately, very often young people, who already work in IT, don’t have extensive opportunities to solve tasks outside system administration. In addition, there are agreements with the university stating that all work within SAP Next-Gen Lab will be part of the curriculum.

Commercializing student development

SAP ensures that innovation centers receive new requests for case solving on a regular basis, so that the most promising solutions developed by students can be commercialized. Thus, software prototypes developed as part of student innovative projects can be implemented via marketplace SAP Store (similar to Apple Store) for businesses, meaning that a student startup has the chance to be noticed by large enterprises that use innovative SAP technology.

‘The opening of innovation centers is a further development of the long-term partnership between HSE School of Business Informatics and SAP, and of its cooperation with Münster University under the double degree programmes and as part of the ERCIS network,’ says Svetlana Maltseva, Head of the School of Business Informatics. She notes that student project work has become an important part of BA and MA programmes from the point of view of students’ adaptation to work in organizations after graduation, and that it also helps students gain new competencies in technological entrepreneurship, to test themselves on network project work and to gain experience in the commercialization of innovative projects.