DEMOLA Hokkaido – Connecting students and enterprises through innovative collaborations

University News | March 12, 2021

Initiated by the Finland-based DEMOLA Global, the innovation creation platform has reached Japan since 2018, organized by Hokkaido University. Although named DEMOLA Hokkaido, the platform is welcoming students and companies from all over the world to join this networking platform. Participating students and companies work together through collaborative projects in solving actual issues concerning our future and sustainability. Twenty collaborations have been culminated by DEMOLA Hokkaido since its first launch. Among which, 14 licenses were purchased by the project partners.

Participants and organizers of the 3rd DEMOLA Hokkaido 2020 (Photo: DEMOLA Hokkaido)

DEMOLA Hokkaido takes part in EDGE-NEXT, an entrepreneurial program designed by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan (MEXT) with a goal to increase the quality and quantity of young entrepreneurs in Japan. Each year, DEMOLA Hokkaido holds two to three courses, each lasting for around three months. In every course, several companies propose cases, each company joins a partnership with teams consisting of 4-6 university students to find the solution to the case.

Students may apply for any of these open cases. The DEMOLA team will screen the applications based on each student’s skill, motivations, and the proposed concepts. DEMOLA facilitates in forming the group members, polishing the concept and the presentation skills, and bridging the team members and the company through a roughly 12 weeks long project.

“DEMOLA puts an emphasis on collaboration. Ideas and plans come from both sides; the students and the companies. We think it is important to have young people’s opinions, especially when we talk about the future,” explained Itsuro Sugimura, DEMOLA Hokkaido Operator and Facilitator.

Sugimura listed some, although not limited to, the following benefits participating students may gain from this collaborative project. First, the students will have simultaneous skill gain in business analysis and development, networking, and licensing. If an agreement is reached between the team of students and the company, the latter could purchase the license of the project in exchange for a financial sum. Additionally, if the condition fits, the students may be rewarded 2 university credits (or 4 ECTS credits) for their participation.

Online team meeting of the 2nd DEMOLA Hokkaido 2020 (Photo: DEMOLA Hokkaido)

“We are expecting teams of students with various backgrounds because we need as many different inputs as possible to create the perfect innovation, so international students are very welcomed,” added Sugimura.

Considering that most of the companies partnering with DEMOLA Hokkaido operate locally, it is expected that Japanese being the main language of communication. Nevertheless, there have been several international students who actively participated in DEMOLA Hokkaido and communicated well with other team members and the companies.

“Even though I don’t speak fluent Japanese, DEMOLA Hokkaido assisted me very well that the entire experience was the greatest program in which I ever participated,” said Luthfian Daryono, an alumnus from the Graduate School of Engineering of Hokkaido University. Daryono was one of the participating international students in the second course of DEMOLA Hokkaido 2018.

“Each company has and proposes different problems, consequently each requires a different approach. All of us learned how to find the most critical approach in problem-solving, promotion, and maintaining the collaboration to become a leading figure, especially in technology and development,” added Daryono.

During the era of the COVID-19 pandemic all of the events and meetings of the ongoing course will be held online, except for the final presentation that will take place at Hokkaido University. Visit DEMOLA Hokkaido’s official webpage to learn more about DEMOLA Hokkaido and the current open cases. The student application still opens until March 20, 2021.

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Written by Aprilia Agatha Gunawan