Shanghai universities collaborate with enterprises to bridge gap between academia and industry

Yang Meiping
Universities in Shanghai are taking a practical approach to business, with programs that help students take academic theory and apply it to real-world business startups.
Yang Meiping
Shanghai universities collaborate with enterprises to bridge gap between academia and industry

East China University of Science and Technology's School of Business have signed agreements with 40 enterprises for cooperation in education with its masters students.

Universities in Shanghai are working closely with enterprises to endow students with industrial experience, and empower working professionals in their careers.

Recently, East China University of Science and Technology's School of Business signed agreements with 40 enterprises for cooperation in education with its masters students.

The move addresses challenges in business education, such as the gap between the fast changes in business modes and operation environment, and the hysteresis curricula. It also examines the contradiction between the rapid pace of knowledge iteration and the limits of teacher knowledge structures, according to the school.

With the cooperation of enterprises, the school released its new education system for its business masters, which is open and will integrate and coordinate with industries to create values together.

The school has been trialing the action-learning programs with several companies over the past few years.

These included a program involving Shanghai's time-honored brand Bright Dairy, in which students faced challenges including researching consumer behavior, refreshing the company's ice cream brand, and digital marketing for its offline chain stores.

The new system aims to further promote integration of theories with practices, business with engineering and humanity, schools with enterprises, and education with research and industries, said Hou Limin, Party chief of the business school.

Shanghai universities collaborate with enterprises to bridge gap between academia and industry

Students from Donghua University present their works during this year's "China Cool" program.

At Donghua University, "China Cool," a cooperation with fashion brand Coach initiated in 2001, has been expanded from students from its fashion design college to other majors, such as humanities, management and media. Some fashion enterprises run by Donghua's alumni were also invited to join the program and provide guidance and support to students throughout the process.

In the first year, students were guided to design products based on their understanding of Chinese culture and fashion lifestyle, and compete for opportunities to put their ideas into real businesses.

The second project began last June with 360 students from different educational backgrounds asked to build groups as "mini companies," to help them understand the process of turning an idea into a functional business

They not only designed products to express their understanding of sustainable fashion, digital fashion and better lifestyle, but also worked out plans for branding and marketing.

The university and the enterprises provided various empower initiatives, including professional training, social practice, design presenting, product prototyping and the final exhibition.

Students showed amazing creativity during the program. One group won the Most Sustainable Award as they replaced leather with green new materials, and used environmental dyeing method and low-carbon processing skills to reduce pollution.

Another group targeted young people's new lifestyle, featuring work, sports and social needs.

"Young people like to do some type of sports after work, which is also a way to be social," said Tai Xiaoting, one of the team members. "Our products include bags that women can use for both work and sports, and sports wear which is both suitable for physical exercises and fashion."

The team won the Most Market Potential Award.

"We are so happy to see that all the creative teams have done a great job. To me, every group was a success, showing innovative young minds and creativity," said Yann Bozec, president of Coach China.

Shanghai universities collaborate with enterprises to bridge gap between academia and industry

Participants of the "China Cool" program pose for a photo group.

Bozec said the company has brought the collection of products designed by Donghua students to the China International Import Expo and commercialized some of the student works, which were further used for public welfare undertakings. It will continue this initiative in the second project.

"While we expand our presence in China. For us, China is not only an important market, but also a source of inspiration for our innovation and breakthroughs," he said.

"In the recent years, we have been actively seeking cooperation with local artists and young talent. In the future, we will continue to seek for more partnerships to drive the innovation, and empower the fashion industry in China."

Li Jun, director of Donghua's Shanghai International College of Fashion and Innovation, said it's important for universities to provide such opportunities to let students get a glimpse into the real industry and try their hands on real commercial design, which is very important for their future career development.

In addition to Coach, it has collaborated with other brands such as international workwear brand Dickies and e-commerce platform Tmall to engage students in innovation.

On the other hand, the China Women's Development Foundation and L'Oreal's skincare brand Helena Rubinstein joined hands with Shanghai Jiao Tong University to provide courses for women who are starting up their own businesses. The online and offline courses range from management, finance and marketing, to strategic thinking and business operation.

Liu Shaoxuan, deputy dean of Shanghai Jiao Tong University's Antai College of Economics and Management, cited a 2020 Startup Outlook Report by the Silicon Valley Bank and pointed out that 41 percent of the technology startups in China included female founders, the highest in the world.

"In China, the average life span of small and medium-sized enterprises is two and a half years, which reflects the challenges in starting up businesses," he said. "With this program, Shanghai Jiao Tong University would like to give support to female entrepreneurs with our strength in engineering, medicine and management, to help them start up and run enterprises well."

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