How the IIH at XJTLU is fostering innovation and entrepreneurship

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A series of cultural activities on innovation and entrepreneurship was held at Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University, with industry and technology cooperative enterprises gathered together to probe deeply into the new development trends of innovation and entrepreneurship.

The activities were organised by the International Innovation Hub at XJTLU, which is one of the service and support platforms for the development of the XJTLU Innovation and Entrepreneur Community.

A new innovation and entrepreneurship mentoring programme was launched, and more than 150 innovation and entrepreneurship mentors from various renowned enterprises met the students for the first time.

Erik Brynjolfesson, professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Sloan School of Management, and Andrew McAfee, MIT’s chief research scientist, pointed out in an article in Harvard Business Review that artificial intelligence may outperform human beings in most or even all fields, from driving cars, to sales forecasting, and even to human resources work.

Is there anything that AI and machine learning will not be able to do? The two experts responded:

‘Computers are devices for answering questions, not for posing them. That means entrepreneurs, innovators, scientists, creators, and other kinds of people who figure out what problem or opportunity to tackle next, or what new territory to explore, will continue to be essential.’

The innovation and entrepreneur mentoring programme of XJTLU provides support for Syntegrative Education to cultivate industry elites, and for the establishment of the Innovation and Entrepreneur Community.

The mentors come from the industries in cooperation with the XJTLU Industry and Enterprise Tailored Education programme, XJTLU Entrepreneur College at Taicang, HuiHu International Innovation and Ecological Hub in Xi’an.

Entrepreneur experts were also recruited from Suzhou Municipal Government, XJTLU academic staff, and Xi’an Jiaotong University Science Park Suzhou.

Dr Chun Kwong Koo (pictured above, first from the right), director of the International Innovation Hub at XJTLU, said:

“The programme will initiate this month, and in this phase the focus is upon the collection of the needs of entrepreneur groups and innovators. During the next phase, students will visit the enterprises of their mentors, with AI, Internet of things, AR/VR and big data as the key industries.”

Meanwhile, a notice on the first session of IIH ‘Innovation Factory- shared 3D printing laboratory’ was issued, and the XJTLU Huihu Plug and Play Entrepreneur Hacker+Marathon was officially opened.

AI was the theme of this session of Hacker+Marathon, which was jointly held by the IIH, the Suzhou Dushu Lake Science and Education Innovation District Administrative Committee, and Suzhou Dushu Lake Entrepreneur University.

Since its appearance, AI as a technology that can change methods of production and people’s way of life has swiftly matured, both in theoretical and technological terms, with fields for its application expanding.

Hacker+Marathon, also referred to as a “programming marathon” and “the coolest carnival in the world for developers”, is a game in which participants form teams and develop products according to certain requirements.

As such, it is a means of practicing innovation and entrepreneurship skills, and helps students to learn more about professional practice and applications, and to build their capacities for problem solving and team work.

According to Fengqin Zheng (pictured above), director of the Plug and Play Venture Capital Investment and International Innovation Programme that has been held at various universities, the game is aimed at enhancing the students’ understanding about AI and its applications to solve problems faced by industry and by people in their daily lives, to raise awareness about innovation, to support entrepreneurship, and to create an atmosphere to encourage these tendencies.

“During the Hacker+Marathon, the students are given face-to-face advice by senior managers and CEOs of big and pioneering enterprises,” said Fengqin Zheng. “Programs which show good potential are given financial backing to support their development. The PNP also provides students with access to further opportunities for practical experience and internships at home and abroad.”

By Bo Kou and Yingzhou Liu, photos by Liping Tian and Yuanyuan Du
Translation by Boqiang Xiao, edited by Guojuan Wang and Danny Abbasi

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