The first pilot of the Business Model Innovation in an Exponential World course for the NEON project

Eindhoven Engine Academy has developed a methodology, approach and supporting documents and has made these available via its website in order to organize an agile, fully autonomous innovation trajectory which is ideally suited to dealing with wicked problems. While it follows the format of a course, this is a learning-by-doing experience and is titled Business Model Innovation in an Exponential World. This course has been developed with the financial support of PATO*.

The course is available for free use by all but, given the innovative nature of the approach and the specific focus, it will clearly be easier and will yield more impact if it is mentored/coached. This mentoring process can be organized virtually or face to face and the Academy can provide this support on a fee basis. At the same time, Eindhoven Engine wants to offer this opportunity to its own projects on a voluntary basis. For the Engine projects, this offer includes a few personal coaching sessions with the team leader in order to make sure that whatever comes up in the seminars is anchored in the project management. The first brave participants were part of the NEON project.

The purpose, structure and approach of the course are on our website, but we want to share some feedback from participants on how they experienced the series.

"I enjoyed the Eindhoven Engine seminar as it provided a structure to reassess our project through a different lens, which is not the immediate lens of our own research. In that regard, it allowed me to see other aspects of my research that I had not directly thought of. It also highlighted the practical applicability of our project and how we can translate our research into an increased contribution to society. I highly recommend it for multidisciplinary projects as it allows one to align different viewpoints and to subsequently create added value for the entire project." - Researcher NEON


In a sense, the seminar series shows us how to ‘extend the cake’ by aligning our research rather than how we ‘share a cake’ through the lens of our individual research.

Researcher NEON

Eindhoven Engine Academy now offers the Business Model Innovation in an Exponential World course

The seminar series (course) on Business Model Innovation in an Exponential World, co-financed by PATO*, is available on our website as of 15 December. In the best of open-source tradition, we have made all of the content available with a roadbook, workbook, webinars and additional resources so that any individual or group can freely use it. 

If you and your team know how to walk the path of a particular innovation and you know what your ideal outcome should be, a good systems engineering approach will adequately support you. But if you are dealing with a wicked problem in which you know the rough problem area but have no idea yet of all possible solutions, systems engineering is not going to help you. In such a case, you need to spend more time on understanding the problem area as systematically as possible and not jumping too quickly to solutions. At the same time, there is the imperative of rapid, agile innovation as the exponential reality does not leave you with too much time either. Additionally, the objective is not only to come up with innovative solutions to a wicked problem; market viability and societal impact are crucial if you would want your innovation to become real.

With that in mind, we have designed and developed this Business Model Innovation in an Exponential World course. In a short period of time, it helps you and your team to understand the problem area profoundly, identify a few meaningful scenarios that lead towards solutions, pay attention to their sustainability and circularity, and translate them into a business model canvas. Ideally, every project should start with this approach, but it could be equally useful after the first exploration of potential solutions.

Transformational journeys

The course supports you and the team in undergoing two transformational journeys. One journey deals with each participant’s personal transformation, as if we are not critical regarding our assumptions, prejudgments, experiences and so on, we will continue doing what we have always done and innovation will be difficult. The second transformation journey is one based on a particular project or problem. The team will walk through a six-step approach based on design thinking and systems thinking, using the collective intelligence of the team to lead to a prototype/business model of a few viable solution scenarios.

Both journeys are supported by webinars, giving background to the approach and illustrating the assignments. A ‘script’ is made available that participants can follow, detailing the methodology. At each step of the assignments, resources can be used to support the learning of the participants if needed.

Real transformation is complicated and takes time. Although we make the entire methodology available for free use by anybody, we are simultaneously aware that such transformation journeys will be much more impactful if correctly supported, coached and mentored. Based on this approach, Eindhoven Engine Academy can support you in the design and mentoring of a tailormade transformation journey for your particular project or company. 

As of 2022, we will offer this seminar series internally to our Eindhoven Engine projects. For the public market, we will offer a four-day, fully-present seminar on this content in the spring. Follow our socials to find out more about this offering. For now (15 December), make use of this opportunity and, if needed, contact us to discuss tailormade solutions.

In a short period of time, it helps you and your team to:
•	understand the problem area profoundly,
•	identify a few meaningful scenarios that lead towards solutions,
•	pay attention to their sustainability and circularity,
•	and translate them into a business model canvas. 

What is the context for technology in business innovation today?

Walter Baets – Academy Eindhoven Engine

Our economic and political reality is becoming increasingly complex, not just complicated. The economy is challenged by important uncertainty in many fields: unstable economic development, a fast-changing geopolitical situation, political instability in many countries, major questions on the ethics and values of what is being done, the climate and our relationship with the planet, disruptive technologies and a disruptive societal situation. Most technology management approaches and methods are not based on this reality of a complex, systemic world and therefore do not always equip engineers ideally.

In order to harness the reality of today, in order to create the future rather than be subjected to it, engineers need to understand what innovation means in an ever-changing, uncertain world disrupted by exponential technologies. They need to know how to construct business models that matter using technologies for positive impact. In addition to their technological specialization, engineers need to develop an understanding of/competences in turning the great potential of (exponential) technologies into business models to bring to market.

Grant from PATO

Last June, the Academy of Eindhoven Engine received a grant of €50,000 from Stichting Post-Academisch Technisch Onderwijs (PATO) to develop the training course ‘Business Model Innovation in an Exponential World’. The outcome of this course will be the development of a mindset with which engineers can comfortably explore, understand and act in a hyper-complex world which is disrupted by exponential technologies while also becoming an entrepreneur and creator of sustainable, scalable solutions. This transformation of people will eventually be the engine for corporate and societal transformation. ‘Business Model Innovation in an Exponential World’ gives the insights needed and allows us to experience it first-hand.

In the upcoming months, this concept will be tested in various formats: a half-day compressed version for students and four full sessions with a few Eindhoven Engine projects.

Start the course

The course will be structured with two variants. Following the concept testing, the short virtual course will start in December 2021. Information about registration and other details will follow soon. The full five-day course is planned to take place in the first quarter of 2022.

Make sure that in every meeting or every project, someone takes the role of the seventh generation

The Great Law of Haudenosaunee Confederacy

The Future of Work demo project kicks off

On top of what Eindhoven Engine does with its regular projects and the community building around it, we also want to launch projects that are challenge-driven, multidisciplinary and promise to be impactful. Can we use the collective intelligence of students, the founding partners of Eindhoven Engine and the Brainport Region to contribute to the co-creation of solutions for those wicked problems in an open innovation manner? Eindhoven Engine has identified a few potential demo projects and wants to kick off with the ‘Future of Work’.

In a world in which we do not know how half of all jobs will look in ten years’ time, what will the relationship be between work and (lifelong) learning? Is remote work more effective and/or flexible and does it contribute to a better life/work balance?  Do the lessons learnt from the corona crisis mean that we should fundamentally rethink what we do and how we do it? Can technology play an interesting and impactful role and what would this look like? Many challenging questions for which we do not have the answers; hence, a real wicked problem.

Business Model Innovation approach

At this stage, Eindhoven Engine Academy wants to prepare the launch of the demo project through a series of four seminars with a limited number of participants from the founding fathers (TU/e, Fontys, TNO), our own team, some volunteers that are active in current projects and a few students. We are going to follow a compressed format of the Business Model Innovation approach mentioned in our previous newsletter, bringing it together in four two-hour sessions and continuous group work in between the sessions. Each session has a theme, after which the groups will work in co-creation on the definition of the project.

Walter Baets, Eindhoven Engine Academy

The themes covered are: a complex world creating wicked problems; design thinking and systems thinking; complex adaptive systems and collective intelligence; organizing for emergence.

In a month’s time, we will have the context and the briefing for our first demo project: the Future of Work.

PDEng Design Challenge

In an intense last week of January, teams of PDEng trainees worked on challenges presented to them by companies. One of the challenges which a team worked on was the ‘Future of Work’ demo project of Eindhoven Engine.

Future of work

The challenge we gave them was as follows. Hybrid forms of (remote) working have an impact on communication, connection and creativity in teams (at the very least) – an impact that we are beginning to understand. However, our reflection should have started earlier. What is the purpose of work? Can we create an environment and approach that moves away from linear, predetermined thinking and opens doors to more creativity and eventually more fun? Can we use this opportunity to start working ‘smarter’, not just doing the same with smarter technology? Can we use tools that facilitate efficient ways of working, such that we do not have to adapt to existing procedures and platforms but instead redesign processes and support tools in alignment with one another? How can we create accidental meetings in a virtual environment, the chaotic situation that invites us to reinvent ourselves?

Future of work

The team came up with some interesting ideas that we are going to take further when we define our demo project on the Future of Work. They constructed a causal loop diagram, from which they developed two possible interesting scenarios: working smart instead of hard (with creative jobs and a focus on the human dimension of work) and work as a learning process (lifelong learning, upskilling/reskilling, use of learning machines to support this match between work/learning). The team observed a tendency to move away from ‘learning in order to work’ towards ‘working in order to learn’. This focus also has huge potential in helping to define University 4.0. Eventually, they also paid attention to the ‘network employee’: the (knowledge) worker who works for different projects and no longer for a company.

Walter Baets

Lots to think through in relation to these highly creative, challenging ideas which are at the center of what corporates are being confronted with. The next step is a pilot project in order to work further on detailing these possible scenarios, after which Eindhoven Engine will launch the Future of Work as a supported demo project.

For more information, please contact Walter Baets, Eindhoven Engine Academy

Business Model Innovation in an Exponential World

The Eindhoven Engine Academy offers a training and mentoring journey for ‘Business Model Innovation in an Exponential World’. If an assignment is clear and we know what we would like to develop, systems engineering is the right route to follow. But what do we do if we do not really know how the innovation should look? Or even worse, we do not fully understand the problem and therefore have no idea what we can do? We call these wicked problems and they are more common than expected. Corona is the obvious one and shows us every day what it means to live in a complex world surrounded by exponential events. We see the difficulty in coming up with integrated, systemic solutions for the different dimensions of the pandemic. But what about the Future of Work, for instance? Will we continue to work more remotely? What will the impact be on real estate (estimates range from 20 to 40% less demand for office space), on public transportation (the NS CEO expects the company to be more seriously strained and on mobility? How can we use exponential technologies to support a more creative and humane society?

Walter Baets, Eindhoven Engine Academy 

Those wicked problems need another approach, another focus: not so much on developing the optimal solution but rather on optimally defining the problem and exploring all possible paths towards impact. This means that we think creatively and systemically about all of the dimensions of the business model within the exponential reality. It is not so much the technological innovation that makes the difference but rather the business model. Going back to the Future of Work, can we identify the business models that might still work in the near future (even though we do not know how this will look)? Companies and individuals need to take decisions, invest, develop and reorganize.

Launch of seminars and coaching

To help with this process, Eindhoven Engine Academy is launching a combination of seminar sessions and assignment coaching (on a problem of the company or project) in order to support the design of innovation for emerging factors, for uncertainty. This process can be organized physically (corona-permitting) or virtually. The topics dealt with are understanding the exponential world, the tools for defining an impactful project, complex adaptive systems & wicked problems, organizing for emerging factors and exponential leadership. Between each workshop session, participants work on their assignment (their project).

First pilot

A first pilot is being organized with some Eindhoven Engine project volunteers and some of the Eindhoven Engine team members involved in the Future of Work. This process will help to define a demo project for the Eindhoven Engine, which we will then open up to all interested parties and facilitate in such a way as to create innovative crossovers. This demo project on the Future of Work will be announced to all in order to encourage participation.