Nowadays, providing engineering students with the experience of developing business-oriented projects, so that they can improve their entrepreneurial spirit is a reality in many universities worldwide. The Departamento de Informática at UMinho and, in particular, the directors of MEI intend to facilitate, in an effective and explicit way, their students to evaluate during their academic experience the possibility of creating a technology-based business in the area of Informatics.
The InfoBiz initiative aims to permit students interested in creating business and technology-based companies to start their projects while in university. The target audience of the project are students who attend courses in which the Departamento de Informática is involved, but may be open to other players (e.g., faculty, staff, students from other courses), as long as it is deemed relevant.
As a long term objective, it is expected that within 10 years, one can identify 20 companies that started to operate within the InfoBiz initiative. It is also an objective to position the Departamento de Informática as one of the top departments at UMinho where students show an entrepreneurial spirit.
Initially, it is expected that the projects for developing software applications, within the UCE15 Seminars curricular unit of MEI, constitute the first target of the InfoBiz initiative. It is intended that in 2011/12 students propose their own projects with the aim of developing their business ideas. Thus, we can request all groups in UCE15, to prepare applications for a given business ideas contest. The creation of the applications is expected to allow students to move forward their business ventures.
In a second stage, we intend to extend the initiative to students enrolled in undergraduate and, if possible, in doctorate degrees. In the latter, it is important to ensure the possibility of some academic assignments to be adapted to address issues of interest to the business ideas of the students.
We expect to attract several partners who can help us developing the InfoBiz initiative. Since this initiative is targeted for students, it is essential to motivate them to have an active participation. Thus, a number of students can take the responsibility for organizing a series of seminars on relevant topics (e.g., entrepreneurship, business plans, funding, patents, intellectual property, software licenses). They should also promote brainstorming sessions to discuss ideas for products, systems and businesses. The effective involvement of students in organizing the seminars will have as consequence an enthusiastic participation.
The collaboration of companies is also greatly appreciated. The InfoBiz initiative is totally open to establish partnerships with companies, to enable our students to have an early and direct contact with the realities of the business world.
The InfoBiz initiative has available one room, located in the Departamento de Informática building, for hosting technology-based spin-offs. The spin-offs hosted in the room can use the electrical grid, the computer network, the bathroom near the room and can receive calls on the telephone.
Currently, the following spin-offs are being hosted:
Rules for using the room (in Portuguese).