A group of students are working in one of the creative rooms in Studenthuset, finalising their pitch. Studying different programs at Linköping University, they have now met on the interdisciplinary course inGenious; a creative course with a different structure than normal university studies.
It all began during spring semester 2022. The students met with some companies that explained their business and what challenges they faced. The students then decided which challenge they wanted to work on, and after that the groups where formed.
“We all wanted to work with Södra Skogsägarna. The challenge is about increasing profit and finding new income sources. They wanted to find something apart from growing forests and then harvesting them,” says Viktor Segerson.
Brainstorming, a good multi-level exercise
The students are to work together to come up with an idea that can solve the company´s challenges; an idea possible to realize.
“We started out brainstorming,” says Anton Källström. “I guess we found 20 or 30 ideas. It was kind of crazy, fun and creative!”
“Brainstorming was a really good thing for us. It was an eye opener. And as a side effect we got to know each other and our different ways of thinking,” says Simon Sjöberg.
They started to look closer at the ideas, most of which were thrown in the bin. They saved the best ones and took small pieces from each to create a whole new idea. They then started to develop their business idea and to figure out how to explain it to other people - because they were going to pitch it to Södra Skogsägarna.
They made a prototype and a first pitch, but when they received feedback from Södra Skogsägarna they found out that their idea was not as unique as they had thought. So they had to make a fresh start.
Ups and downs are a natural part of the project
“Our idea was that instead of harvesting forests, companies could 'buy' and protect forests to bind carbon dioxide. Similarly to the system of emission rights in the aviation market. But something like this already existed on the market, and the whole thing was more complex than we had expected,” says Viktor Segersson.
“We had worked really hard on this idea, so it was a bit overwhelming to get this message,” says Benedikt Kerres.
“Yeah, it was really a setback, this challenge was a lot more complicated than we thought,” says Simon Sjöberg.
They re-worked their idea and came up with a new aspect of it. And this time they focused on the animals and plants in the forest, with the aim of conserving biodiversity.
Anton Källström sketching and explaining the business idea. Photo credit Karin Midner
An interdisciplinary course with a lot of freedom
On 13 December 2022, all the student groups will gather to pitch their ideas in Studenthuset. Other students, the companies, organisations, teachers and anyone interested are welcome to be there and listen.
“I think it’s good to study like this. We have different perspectives and backgrounds. It is great to meet people from different programmes, we think and know different things. We didn’t know each other from the beginning, but now we are friends,” says Anton Källström.
“On a normal course everything is very structured, but on this one we have some things that we need to deliver. But how we work is up to us to decide. This freedom is nice, it gives us a chance to discover new ways to reach a goal. But it is also takes a lot of discipline. We have a lot of sharp deadlines and we have to make a plan to get there in time,” says Ismail Musse.
“At the moment we are focusing on the pitch. We really do practice pitching a lot on this course. We learn how to be pedagogical, how to use a microphone and how to sell an idea. It’s a lot of fun and great knowledge to have,” says Benedikt Kerres.
“We really believe in this project”
But of course they also struggle sometimes. It is difficult to coordinate the meetings in the group because they all have different schedules at university. The level of motivation varies over time, but that is something you learn to handle, it is a natural part of the creative process. But the biggest challenge is to find a market for something new. But when that happens you have to find new perspectives... who needed a smartphone before it existed?
“We really like this idea, and there is a market for it. We are planning to keep up this work after our course. If it turns out good and there is a market for it, we can sell it! And we have noticed an interest in this, people have just realised why biological diversity is important!” says Viktor Segersson.