In April this year, ESADE Business School opened a new ecosystem for entrepreneurship and innovation at its Sant Cugat campus in Barcelona after a two million euro ($2.3 million) investment. The 2,100 m2 of redesigned space plays host to five learning laboratories, each created for a specialized purpose.
At the 'Rambla of Innovation's' inauguration ceremony, Josep Franch, dean of ESADE Business School, explained that the new learning model is fundamentally experiential. “As well as classrooms, the keystones now include laboratories, which serve as meeting points between knowledge, training, and the business world," he said.
The Rambla's different spaces are designed to promote synergies and cross-disciplinary collaboration. 'Decision Lab' is the Rambla's research laboratory focusing on the analysis of decision-making. 'Fab Lab', modeled on a facility at MIT and the first of its kind in Europe, is an open digital fabrication space. Equipped with cutting-edge technologies—laser cutters, 3D printers, CNC machines—Fab Lab is ideal for building prototypes and testing.
'EGarage' is for entrepreneurs ready to move from ideation to production, while 'EWorks' serves students who have a clear business plan. In its first three years of activity, EWorks has helped the launch 27 companies and accelerated 24 entrepreneurial projects which have attracted over €2.5 million ($2.9 million) in funding.
'Fusion point', supported by Accenture, is a space where students interact with engineers and designers to identify concrete business problems, and formulate inter-disciplinary solutions. Jessie Pham, an MBA candidate at ESADE Business School, says that her team worked out of the Fusion Point lab while participating in the Challenge Based Innovation (CBI) program—an initiative launched by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN).
Jessie and her team from ESADE jointly took part in the CBI program with students from Barcelona Design School and Barcelona School of Telecommunications Engineering. They were tasked to innovate knowledge sharing within the academic research community.
"The in-house experts are some of the most valuable assets on the Rambla," Jessie says, "along with students from other programs, the Rambla becomes an incubator of sort—fostering a community that not only supports but challenges your ideas."
Jessie is now using knowledge she's gained at ESADE Business School while helping an AI startup based in Barcelona trying to break into the US real estate market. In September, she'll be working for Delta Partners Consulting in New York City.
Over 175 companies are expected to get involved in research projects and challenges on the Rambla while the school's alumni investors network, ESADE BAN, provides various funding opportunities. The business angels network invested over €4 million ($4.7 million) in 22 projects in 2017.
The Rambla is part of ESADE Business School's wider 'student first' initiative, which allocates a total of €10 million ($11.7 million) to creating infrastructure and learning environments meeting the challenges of globalization and disruptive technological trends.