Aiming to go into business full-time, Masamba Senghore has been involved in the start-up community in the UK for some time. Yet, he found the Idea Explorer Innovation & Entrepreneurship Global Summer Camp at ZJU an unmissable opportunity.
“The content of the lectures, just from what I saw, sounded great and something that would have been a value to myself. That’s why I applied,” said Masamba Senghore, an economics undergraduate at University College London. “And the city itself is great, so I had nothing to lose.”
Idea Explorer Innovation & Entrepreneurship Global Summer Camp, organized by ZJU’s School of Management every year, offers three weeks of full-immersion experience of traditional Chinese culture and innovation and entrepreneurship in Hangzhou.
This year, 41 students from 12 countries and regions were admitted to the summer camp and had the chance to experience life at ZJU.
A different campus experience
Upon their arrival, many of the students were amazed by the size of the campus of ZJU. But soon, they started to find out more about the university.
“It’s this really small village versus this, boom, China, Zhejiang, and Hangzhou, and everything,” said Chrisjan Wust of Stellenbosch University in Cape Town, while comparing his home university with ZJU. “Actually, it’s this big, free and open environment. It’s mostly the feeling I got.”
“Yesterday I went running at midnight, and there were a lot of students running. The student life is very dynamic, something really different from European student life.” said Thi Thanh Thanh Nguyen from France. “There were so many activities on campus. And honestly I really love Hangzhou; I really love [Zijingang] Campus.”
Masamba Senghore was surprised by the support system that ZJU provides for students who want to start their own business.
“I’d say that I haven’t really been in an environment that’s so supportive of startups and so supportive of business. UCL has an extensive network obviously, of entrepreneurs and alumni that are willing to help people, to help these societies. But its’ not quite comparable to Zhejiang, and just the support system you guys have for small business owners, that’s something that surprised me quite a lot.”
An eye-opening journey in Hangzhou
During the three-week time, students were not only given academic lectures on campus, but also encouraged to learn from real business settings through company visits, participate in networking events with entrepreneurs and work in groups on their own business initiative.
On the last day of the program, each group presented their own business plan. “Smart Nanny”, a business plan aimed to connect parents with professionally trained nannies, won the first place and got the title of “Best Idea Explorer”.
“The most interesting part of this specific program is all about China. How this amazing growth miracle happens. How they do business, what they think, how this relates all the way back to Confucianism,” said Chrisjan Wust.
“And it’s really an eye-opener to see China, how it is now. In Hangzhou, it’s basically the forefront, or the leading edge of China. It has really been an interesting part to see the Chinese culture, and how they transformed all this.”
This is what the School of Management hoped for when it developed the program, said Zhou Weihua, associate dean of the School.
“We hope the program will help the participants to develop entrepreneurial skills and make connections with potential business partners from all over the world, and learn more about the Chinese culture,” Zhou said.