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Design Thinking Workshop at SSS 2019 (2)
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EPIC Workshop on Design Thinking at Sevan Startup Summit 2019

SEVAN, Armenia – On July 28-August 3, 2019, the Entrepreneurship and Product Innovation Center (EPIC) of the American University of Armenia (AUA) participated in the Sevan Startup Summit (SSS) 2019. SSS is an international event that connects entrepreneurs, mentors, investors, and other decision-makers of the startup ecosystem. Held annually at the shores of Lake Sevan, SSS is a week-long outdoor startup gathering for intensive learning, networking, deal-making, and informal discussions on cutting-edge developments in entrepreneurship. It provides access to industry experts, one-on-one mentorship, and pitch practice for startups helping them forge meaningful relationships with potential investors and advisors.

Faculty, students, and staff from the American University of Armenia (AUA) Manoogian Simone College of Business and Economics (CBE), the Akian College of Science and Engineering (CSE), and EPIC participated in the event as mentors, facilitators, volunteers, startup teams, and jurors. In addition, EPIC presented a two-hour workshop on design thinking. Often taught as a methodology or framework, design thinking combines the problem-solving roots of design with deep empathy for the user. Frameworks based on design thinking help understand and apply the mindset and culture that designers embrace to solve complex problems and find optimal solutions for their clients. The workshop attracted over 80 members from starter and booster programs successfully honing their skills of ideation, brainstorming, and insight generation. 

The ideation session was supported by design thinking methodology including the concept boards developed by Northumbria University’s School of Design. With a long history of entrepreneurship support, in 2019 Northumbria University was ranked first in the UK for supporting graduate startup businesses. Northumbria School of Design nurtures design talent that drives social change and economic growth. 

The application of design thinking methodology is also in the heart of EPIC’s Create Up pre-incubation program, which is designed to help new entrepreneurs shape their business ideas and strengthen their teams by providing mentoring opportunities, as well as teaching visual ideation techniques in a structured environment. The program focuses on empowering individuals to develop their understanding and respect for customers. It focuses on careful and intentional decisions, with a high degree of tolerance for failure. 

The participants of the workshop at SSS 2019 were challenged to identify the basics of value proposition canvas and went on to work with five possible concept boards, including the Business Model Canvas, Mood Board, Service Journey Map, and Mind Map. 

The workshop gave participating startups the opportunity to get feedback from Create Up program mentors. They also got feedback from mentors and other participants after pitching their concept boards

Towards the end of the workshop, AUA EPIC also presented its prototyping laboratory and announced a $500 prize for use of the prototyping laboratory services. The prize was given to FoldInk, a bioprinting company with a focus on making 3D bioprinting technology available to the public. FoldInk plans to use the Faro Edge Scanner, 3D Printers, HAAS Super mini Mill and Vacuum Casting Machine of the EPIC prototyping lab to design and test some of the components of the 3D bioprinting technology in the prototyping phase.  

The Entrepreneurship and Product Innovation Center (EPIC) is a platform of the American University of Armenia (AUA) for promoting entrepreneurial education, cross-disciplinary collaboration, and startup venture incubation. EPIC provides an ecosystem for emerging entrepreneurs consisting of first-class facilities and collaborative workspace, programs and events, and a network of mentors, advisors, and investors. EPIC fosters the understanding and application of entrepreneurship in students and faculty at AUA to craft high-impact multidisciplinary ventures.

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