‘Creating a Business’ Capstone Project: cultivating innovation and interdisciplinary collaboration
IÉSEG’s Capstone Project “Creating a Business” gives Grande École Program‘s 3rd year students the opportunity to combine the knowledge they have acquired throughout their studies to create a concrete and innovative business project. The aim is to enable students to delve more deeply into their respective core fields of study, while fostering an interdisciplinary approach, so that they fully grasp the logic of interconnection between subjects.
During Semester 5, “Deploying a Spirit of Entrepreneurship in a Digitalized World”, students lay the foundations for this flagship project. The key element of the project is the development of a realistic and achievable business, anchored in today’s ever-changing digital reality, which mobilizes one or more of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Students receive support throughout the semester, and all courses are built around the preparation of this Capstone Project. In particular, the Design Thinking course will enable them to develop their initial idea, bearing in mind that it must be achievable in order to reach the prototyping stage. The particular approach of the Capstone Project is that there are no distinct phases, the whole process taking place continuously throughout the semester.
Research has shown that teams perform better and are more successful when they are assigned randomly and not based on students’ affinities, and then left to choose their project idea as a group. Student teams are therefore formed at random, and are guided by a charter of commitment that they sign beforehand, clarifying their objectives and ways of working. This ensures an optimal working environment.
At the end of the semester, students tackle two major final projects: a report in the form of a business plan, where each section is assigned to a specific subject (Design Thinking, Strategy & Innovation, Market Reasearch, Company Law, Digital Corporate Finance, Business Negotiation, and Business Ethics) and evaluated by the professor associated with the subject in question. The project involves 23 professors from the Paris campus and the Lille campus. Finally, a final pitch in video format draws on the students’ storytelling skills to present their project, putting themselves in the shoes of entrepreneurs. This event enables them to think in advance about how to present their project effectively to catch the attention of potential investors. The pitch is assessed on a number of criteria, including the clarity of the presentation, the ability to argue the relevance of the project, and the clarity of the business model.
A unique component of the assessment is the IÉSEG Incubator Day in the middle of the semester, where teams benefit from a full immersion in IÉSEG’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. This day includes talks by incubated entrepreneurs, an informative plenary session and personalized coaching sessions with professionals from the Incubator, who then award them a mark contributing to 10% of the final grade on this project.
Finally, the closing evening offers students the chance to pitch their project to a jury, with a chance of receiving advice and support to join the next intake of the IÉSEG incubator’s SPARK program.
Two years after its introduction, the Capstone Project “Creating a Business” has proven to be an effective immersive learning experience, creating an ecosystem that fosters innovation and the emergence of concrete business projects. Around 150 projects emerge every semester, that is 300 per academic year.