Serve them, not you — Inteview with Anne Headon of the HUB Entrepreneurship and Innovation UNIL – Venturelab

06.07.2022 06:00, Tracy Woodley

During the summer time months, we ask individuals who stimulate the Swiss startup ecosystem to offer the Venturelab neighborhood with meals for thought, inspiration, and suggestions. Fo this 12 months’s Summer Series, we’ll be interviewing personnel from the nation’s main larger training establishments about the numerous and distinctive packages accessible to help rising entrepreneurs throughout Switzerland. Anne Headon of HUB Entrepreneurship and Innovation UNIL kicks off the 2022 collection with her insights on the entrepreneurship journey.

Name: Anne Headon 
Job title: Director,
HUB Entrepreneurship and Innovation UNIL 
City: Lausanne 
What I do: I improve entrepreneurial spirit inside our neighborhood and help revolutionary initiatives which have a social and/or environmental impression. 

How would you summarize the mission of the HUB UNIL? 
The mission of the HUB is to boost entrepreneurial spirit throughout the seven colleges of the University of Lausanne in order that our graduates and neighborhood can contribute in a related and significant strategy to our area and to the future of our society. 

What are the major packages/assets supplied by HUB UNIL?
The HUB’s actions are articulated round three pillars: 

  • The Inspire pillar targets the UNIL neighborhood. Its goal is to foster and nurture entrepreneurial vocations.
  • The Educate pillar targets UNIL college students. Its goal is to supply and encourage programs round entrepreneurship for Bachelor’s and Master’s stage college students from all colleges, with a concentrate on impression entrepreneurship and social innovation.
  • The Activate pillar targets all venture holders. The goal is to help folks with concepts and initiatives aligned with the institutional values of UNIL. Projects which have a social and environmental impression are due to this fact inspired. The UCreate HUB activation packages are listed online

Who are the folks behind HUB? What makes you all enthusiastic about supporting entrepreneurs? 
We are a small and dedicated crew of six individuals who share a typical imaginative and prescient and spirit: We are all obsessed with contributing to a extra sustainable future by means of supporting impression entrepreneurship and social innovation. We carry an “entrepreneurial mindset” ourselves. The HUB is lower than three years previous and we’re writing each day our personal story for the profit of our neighborhood. We see ourselves as “bridge and belief builders”. We consider in the energy of creating hyperlinks between the experience of totally different stakeholders to facilitate the social, financial, and environmental transition. 

We are additionally working in a unbelievable ecosystem with initiatives of big variety, with motivated college students, researchers, employees, and alumni. This variety is absolutely thrilling! 

How can startup founders greatest profit from the help of HUB?
The major program at UNIL is known as UCreate, grounded in the perception the solely strategy to have a sustainable future is to create it. 

UCreate provides a coherent path for venture holders, with packages of totally different lengths designed round wants and venture maturity ranges (UCreate 1, UCreate 2, UCreate 3). Like different early-stage activation packages, the goal is to de-risk the venture by confronting it with market actuality, with loads of concentrate on market validation by means of testing and prototyping. 

But UCreate differs from different packages in some ways : 

  1. It focuses on initiatives with social and/or environmental impression 
  2. It is actually inclusive and open to college students, researchers, employees, and alumni of our neighborhood, with tech, low-tech or no-tech initiatives, in addition to for-profit or not-for-profit initiatives. 
  3. It additionally helps native social innovation initiatives. These initiatives embedded in a local people are typically much less scalable however we consider that they’ve attention-grabbing duplicable fashions. 
  4. It is utilized and tailor-made. Every participant works on personal his/her personal venture, in the language of their selection (French or English), with a coach chosen in response to their wants

From September 1st, 2022, our packages can even happen at the Villanova, a novel and inventive collaboration house of 350 sq. meters in the coronary heart of the campus. This will create a vibrant neighborhood of aspiring and seasoned entrepreneurs, trainers, coaches, and mentors, and a brand new bridge between UNIL and society. 

Could you please share two or three success tales from UNIL that you are particularly proud of? 
I’ll share two early-stage initiatives which have gone by means of our UCreate program, as they’re very a lot in line with the values of the establishment and the sorts of initiatives we help: 

Low Impact Food was based by two researchers, one from the faculty of Biology at UNIL and one from EPFL. This venture tackles the destructive environmental impression of conventional protein sourcing. It provides another supply of protein by revalorizing co-products from native producers by means of the breeding of edible bugs.
Musée à l’emporter was created by 4 college students of the Faculté des lettres. This venture tackles the situation of younger college students in rural communities with restricted entry to museums (journey is dear and sophisticated). It provides a brand new mannequin of collaboration with museums which permits a novel expertise in the classroom. This is a typical social innovation venture geared toward lowering inequalities.

If you need to uncover extra success tales of skilled UNIL entrepreneurs, I invite you to have a look at our 100 Entrepreneurs UNIL. These ventures are additionally a mirrored image of the richness of our ecosystem and a supply of pleasure. 

What are the key strengths of UNIL that make it an amazing place for entrepreneurs? 
Firstly, our ecosystem has a wealthy entrepreneurial historical past as Professor Pigneur and Dr. Osterwalder labored at our enterprise faculty HEC. They designed ideas and printed books (Value Proposition Design and Business Model Generation) that are amongst the hottest and widely-used books on entrepreneurship worldwide. 

Secondly, we profit from the richness of our seven colleges and 17,500 college students and researchers, at the coronary heart of a vibrant and mature regional ecosystem.  

Finally, with the creation of the HUB and our UCreate packages, we’ve got now a one-stop-shop the place each thought or venture holder can come, get help, and/or be redirected to the proper place. Our new collaborative house at Villanova can be a concrete instance of the help of the UNIL Rectorate for our mission and we’re very grateful for that. 

All this creates a really particular place for entrepreneurs at UNIL.  

Which fields of know-how are the startups from UNIL particularly robust in? 
Before answering this query, I must stress that there’s a symbolic hierarchy that tends to suggest that technological innovation is of superior nature to different sorts of innovation. It is time that we put social innovation for instance at the identical stage of significance if we need to resolve the issues of tomorrow. 

This being mentioned, given the energy of our college of drugs and biology and its shut hyperlinks with the CHUV, we’ve got many initiatives in life science and biotech and a vibrant neighborhood of researchers on this subject. 
Can you share a shocking second noticed throughout your work at HUB and what you discovered from it? 
One of the many surprises since the creation of the HUB has been the excessive quantity of feminine entrepreneurs we’ve got at UNIL and in our packages. They symbolize round 50% of our contributors, and they’ve impressed me with their capability to take the lead and collect experience round them. We must maintain encouraging feminine entrepreneurship in an ecosystem which continues to be very male dominated, whether or not on the entrepreneurs or the fund suppliers facet. 

Which e-book would you suggest as a must-read for any aspiring entrepreneur?
The Lean Startup by Eric Ries. This e-book exhibits nicely how entrepreneurship is about testing your imaginative and prescient constantly with your potential prospects or beneficiaries in an effort to adapt and regulate it in a context of restricted time and assets. This e-book is ten years previous and doesn’t incorporate latest considering on sustainability, however it is rather related to entrepreneurship as a course of. 

What is a chunk of key recommendation that you’d wish to share with each new founder? 
Stay near the floor, i.e. to the neighborhood you are serving. Understand their wants and their worldview. Understand how you will impression them, together with potential destructive externalities. 

Serve them, not you. 

Finally, what’s your imaginative and prescient/prediction for the startup neighborhood in Switzerland?
I can see two major adjustments on this ecosystem: 

  1. More collaborative: as our social and environmental issues have gotten extra interdependent and systemic, the manner we method innovation should be systemic as nicely. This means we can’t maintain working in silos and should be taught to work collectively and deconstruct potential prejudice. I’ve seen some encouraging indicators, however it can require belief and time.  
  2. More consideration and monetary help for impression entrepreneurship and social innovation, which may be very constructive. New help buildings are being set at cantonal and nationwide ranges, which ought to encourage the emergence of these initiatives and improve their success price. 

In each instances, I consider that UNIL has a number one position to play in constructing a extra collaborative and sustainable entrepreneurial ecosystem. 

Anything else you’d like our readers to know?
On the well-known query what would you suggest to college students ?, I’ve not too long ago heard a keynote speaker saying at a giant convention: “Make cash till you are 40 years previous and then use it to have a constructive impression”. I completely disagree. We don’t have 20 years in entrance of us and one doesn’t change posture that simply at 40 years previous. My recommendation can be completely totally different: if you need to have a constructive impression on our society, begin now, even on a small scale. If there’s a downside you need to resolve, it has by no means been a greater time for college students to style entrepreneurship and to experiment with the help of the ecosystem. This might be of worth to society but in addition to your self, whether or not you develop into an entrepreneur or not. 


Available help for UNIL spin-offs:  
Hub Entrepreneurship and Innovation
Venture Kick
Innosuisse Start-up Trainings 

Connect and observe:
UNIL Hub Entrepreneurship & Innovation
Venture Kick


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