The Interview with Sebastian Denef, one of the founders of the Converge

  Sebastian Denef is one of the developers of the Converge educational project "Technology - Design - Business" and a visiting professor at the University of Innopolis and Graduate School of Management SPbU, shares his personal vision of the project.


This large project is realized with cooperation with RUSNANO. What is special about this cooperation? What personal goals did you set for yourself in developing this project?

We aimed to develop an innovative educational project that will not only be interesting and exciting for students, but also relevant for RUSNANO and its partner companies. Providing students with knowledge that is valuable from a practical point of view is the main goal of the work.


Could you please describe the part of the project that you are responsible for? Who is the key audience of the project?

I develop content that will present the Design as a way to develop creativity and innovation. The students will learn how to use Design as an approach to solving business problems. The course content includes the development of the understanding and empathy of users and developers; methods of developing new and unique ideas; ways to develop prototypes for new products and services; methods for collecting feedback and evaluating design in flexible iterative processes.


The RUSNANO Foundation has existed for more than 5 years, and every six months it opens a number of new training programs in cooperation with leading universities. This training program for RUSNANO is innovative. In your opinion, what distinguishes it from other training programs that were developed on the nanotechnology market earlier?

This program follows two guiding principles: interdisciplinary and training through developing projects (project-based learning). First, we combine experience and knowledge on three topics, which are the core of innovation today: Business, Technology and Design. In each area, we concentrate on new developments and ways of combining these approaches to innovation. Secondly, we believe that learning and understanding comes from active action, not from passive listening. Students will need to combine their new knowledge and apply them in projects, that will solve real practical problems.


What requirements and tasks did you personally face working at that project for RUSNANO?

On the one hand, that is the development of educational material. On the other hand, I will also be responsible for providing and developing a digital platform for, which we will use to encourage interaction between students and teachers. Here we will focus on the needs of RUSNANO to be able to provide effective training, as well as create a digital educational environment that will inspire.


What new competencies students will have when they finish the course? Why are they important?

In today's world, driven by innovation, it is important to understand and connect the main drivers of these innovations. Students will learn about the latest tools and developments in key areas of innovation. They will be able to answer such questions as: What do customers need? What is the potential of large data and machine learning? How can a company succeed in digital innovation? How can my team become more creative? How can I develop an idea and turn it into a successful commercial product? By combining such areas as Business, Technology and Design, students will learn about the full life cycle of innovation, from the appearing the original idea and ending with the implementation of a new product or service.


Please share additional comments, which, in your opinion, could be of interest to readers.

I would like to share a video about the platform that we are going to use in the project.