Calm-tech pitch gave 8 students summer jobs at a start-up

How can we create technology that improve our lives, rather than drain them? 12 students form the university’s honours programs dedicated their springs to find an answer to this question. They worked interdisciplinarilty to create a concept within calm-tech. 8 students landed summer jobs, working to expand on their ideas, and learn how to monetize innovation.

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The workshop was the brainchild of entrepreneur and SINTEF researcher Tobias Dahl. Tobias has previously worked with innovation at the Univeristy of Oslo, providing talks and presentations. This time though, 12 students were recruited to participate in a workshop to learn how to identify challenges in society, and find solutions using technology.

- The students learned how innovation processes work. Ungt Entreprenørskap taught the modules, and the students learned both how to arrive at good idead that address real world problems, and how to pitch these ideas to investors, explained Tobias.

The challenge centered around the issue of Interruptive Technology, in other words, how can we create alternatives to the technologies we use today, that constantly fight for our attention?

“Living a life that is mine”

Yasmine Kroknes-Gomez, Line Horgen Thorstad, and Aslak Hellevik are three of the students that took the workshop, and that are now working to further develop their ideas at Startuplab. The topic of Calm Technology, an alternative to Interruptive Technology, rang true to the student. The possibility of finding ways to control their digital habits functioned as a central motivation for completing the workshop. As philosophy student, Line Horgen Thorstad puts it,

- As a young person, everything we do in our lives leads us back to digital technology. Building up the self-control to do what you intended to do when you look at your phone is very challenging.  We need to address that today’s technology use our time and attention for profit, and we hope that by creating new types of technology, we can show that it could have been different. Technology does not need to be disruptive.

Innovative thinking

Anders Malthe-Sørenssen is a professor at the Center for Computing in Science Education, and the Head of the honours program at the University of Oslo. He has long expressed the importance of innovation in education.

- Learning to innovate is a skill that will be important for many students in the workplace, but students are rarely exposed to ideas or opportunities to innovate in their studies. Through this initiative, students gets a glimpse into the world of innovation. Our long-term goal is to build a new pathway for students into innovation, explained Anders.

In their own words, one of the biggest takeaways the students got from the workshop was that they should think for a long while before committing to an idea, as mathematics student Aslak Hellevik put it:

- They held us back again and again, multiple times when we felt we were ready to test an idea. We learned to ask open questions and let the user choose the direction. This helped us get to the bottom of the issue.

The workshop also allowed student to experience a different environment from what they were used to, giving them valuable experience for a future in the workforce.

- The process of entrepreneurship is very different from everything else we do at the university. At the honours program, we can talk about a lot of different challenges we see in society, but we do not always have the opportunity to really put these ideas to the test. Many of us are concerned about how technology affects our everyday lives, but we have not been given the opportunity to do anything about it, until now, explained mathematics student Yasmine Kroknes-Gomez

For now, the students will spend this summer working on their ideas, and learning how to cooperate and organize themselves while working as a team.

Published June 24, 2022 12:42 PM - Last modified June 24, 2022 12:42 PM