The IEC course challenges students to prepare an internationalisation plan for a real-life company

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Students have prepared internationalisation strategies for business enterprises on the International Entrepreneurship Challenge course for 14 years. “This course promotes contacts with the corporate world”, says student Elizaveta Riabochkina.

Joonas Joutsen, Sami Hyytiäinen, Elizaveta Riabochkina and Erno Kupiainen, students of the Master’s Programme in International Marketing Management (MIMM), are preparing an internationalisation plan for the Lappeenranta-based company Omniflux.

Omniflux is an early stage startup. Its idea is to manufacture a new type of sensor that measures a person’s daily energy consumption. The sensor is very small and could be attached to the person’s ear or other body part or smart watch.
”We are aiming for the international market. We mean to licence the sensor. With data analytics, we can utilise the detailed data obtained through the sensor to monitor a person’s health,” explains Antti Immonen, one of the founders of Omniflux.

”Good practical test”

The students are thrilled about the opportunity to participate in the development of a real-life company.
”This is an excellent way to put what we have learnt to the test. This course helps us to get a feel of what it’s like to work as a consultant,” Joonas says.

The students set out to learn what Omniflux’s product will finally be, determine how to sell it and define the company’s international vision. All this is part of a marketing student’s core competencies, but in contrast, an area where fledgling startup entrepreneurs need a hand.
”It is important that the company is real and not fictional. This type of practical experience is valuable and helps to establish contacts with the corporate world,” Elizaveta states.

IEC brings businesses and students together

Entrepreneurs and students come together in the International Entrepreneurship Challenge (IEC) of the LUT School of Business and Management. The course targets Master’s students in the final stages of their studies. Students compose international teams – each team must include at least one student from another country. The working language is English.

”Each year, student feedback has indicated that the course takes a lot of work but is a teachable and interesting experience,” says Associate Professor Lasse Torkkeli of the LUT School of Business and Management.
”For example, the course’s final, oral exam has received praise because exams are usually written. Startup entrepreneurs, for instance, must be able to prove their point orally,” Torkkeli says.
Students must shed light on how a business can start operating in a target country, what the company’s marketing and sales plan should be and how to land the first 20 customers.

For example, SpinDrive, an LUT spinoff company, was involved in the IEC course.
”The final report answered our most important questions but also analysed our company more extensively. The report proposes clear measures, and we’ve already implemented some of them directly,” relates Nikita Uzhegov, a co-founder of SpinDriven.

Assistance in the commercialisation of innovations

Boris Perkiö and Jonna Musa are preparing an internationalisation plan for Ensavetec.
Ensavetec is a technology company based in Mikkeli, Finland, and it provides everyday living and energy saving solutions. Its innovation is technology that recovers energy from warm shower water. The company is targeting especially the Central European market.

MIMM student Jonna thinks Ensavetec’s business idea is outstanding.
”This course enables us to plunge deeper into the business world, and if I ever end up working for a startup, this experience will surely be useful,” Jonna says.

Ensavetec requires concrete help in sales promotion and internationalisation.
”In addition, this is an excellent opportunity to find new recruits for our growing company,” states Niko Halonen, Managing Director of Ensavetec.
”The IEC course takes place at exactly the right time for us. We recently hired a sales director, Tomi-Pekka Vuorinen, who will supervise the students’ internationalisation plan and start to build networks in the target market,” Halonen continues.

Also the company Henkaus, which has its headquarters in Lappeenranta, Finland, expects the students to provide concrete assistance in entering the international market. The business idea of Henkaus is to develop a device that monitors a person’s health and uses artificial intelligence to react to the data as needed.
”It is important that the students have different backgrounds and represent different nationalities. We hope to receive detailed advice to support our internationalisation,” states Abhishek Jayaprakash, CEO of Henkaus.

Facts: International Entrepreneurship Challenge

  • IEC provides new ventures in Finland with the opportunity to engage teams of MSc students in their final year of studies at the LUT School of Business and Management.
  • IEC has paired over 550 students with dozens of companies in Finland.
  • Students develop a comprehensive and independent plan for internationalisation. The tailored plan provides specific recommendations for the participating company.
  • For more information, see IEC’s website.

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