Laurent Roux of the EIT was one of the judges at the final of the Scratch Meccs competition on Saturday 1 April.
Held on the IT campus of ELTE University in Budapest, Scratch Meccs is a competition in technology (using the Scratch tool, hence the name). The competition is organised by Skool, an independent Hungarian organisation and the main project of the Technology in Education Foundation.
Scratch Meccs is a long-term programme: the communication starts in May, the competition runs from September to December.
Below is a short extract of an interview Laurent gave to Skool prior to the event. Laurent is the EIT's Entrepreneurship Officer and has a strong background in technology and entrepreneurship in Europe and Asia.
Why did the EIT decide to support the Scratch Meccs, programming competition for girls?
The EIT’s mission is to empower innovators and entrepreneurs across Europe to turn their best ideas into products and services, and there is no distinction made as to gender. Because the EIT is tasked with boosting innovation through the integration of the knowledge triangle, our Innovation Communities place a strong emphasis on education to train the entrepreneurs, innovators and leaders of tomorrow. However, this is currently limited to the university level, and we have seen that the participation of women entrepreneurs in the tech world is still fairly limited. We have also experienced this in start-ups, the EIT Awards and the management of innovation communities.
Following an extensive search of existing coding competitions in Hungary and the CEE region, and in line with the pilot project on women leadership and entrepreneurship, the EIT decided to support Scratch Meccs because: it is a competition in technology (using the Scratch tool, hence the name), but it goes far beyond that, because participating in a competition also boosts an innovative attitude, entrepreneurial skills, soft skills such as team work, and presentation skills, among other things; it is a long-term programme: the communication starts in May, the competition runs from September to December, with a strong follow-up; because Skool’s aim for 2016 is to strengthen the infrastructure behind the competition to make this the pre-eminent competition for girls, and they are looking for a strong partnership to do that. The aim for 2017 is to develop a "franchise model" to make the platform, the infrastructure and the resources available for adaptation in other countries, not only Hungary; and because participants from schools and parent associations can then be involved in the EIT Community.
What other programs does the EIT have, strengthening the culture of entrepreneurship among women and why?
The EIT and its Innovation Communities aim to broaden their support for women and diversity entrepreneurship and leadership in 2017 and beyond. Some activities are already taking place at the initiative of Innovation Community alumni and current students. See, for example: this and this.
What will be the EIT’s role in the competition?
The EIT will participate as a judge in the semi-finals and the final panel, and will provide financial support to enable the Scratch Meccs competition to reach more women entrepreneurs and coders across the CEE region.
You work for the EIT as an entrepreneurship officer, you are responsible for the Entrepreneurship and Business Creation Activities of the EIT KICs across the EU-28, but previously you have also advised start-ups. Having such a wide ranging experience, what do you think, what is the key to success (or to survival) for entrepreneurs? What role is played by IT in this?
An entrepreneur has to have resilience, perseverance, patience, and determination. It is also crucial to share responsibilities with a great team, and empower others at all levels of the growing company or organization. It also crucial to continuously learn and nowadays there are many online resources to do so, besides connecting with link-minded people and other entrepreneurs. IT can be a fantastic enabler and accelerator for all these key aspects.
You graduated as an electrical engineer, than early in your career you got involved in IT; you were regional IT Director for the French Trade Commission (2000-2005). What made you interested in technology?
I have always been interested in Science Technology Engineering Mathematics (STEM) studies and activities, coming from a family deeply rooted in it since at least the generation before me. I also had the opportunity to study abroad in California for a full year towards the completion of my MsScEE, and then work there and across North America for many years, including during the first DotCom boom and bust in San Francisco in the late 1990s, and then moving to Singapore / Asia Pacific when the entrepreneurial eco-system was being set-up in the mid to late 2000s. I met some very interesting entrepreneurs along the way, besides working with inspiring colleagues.
If you - on behalf of EIT - were to leave a message for a little girl - potential innovator of tomorrow - what would it be?
'Learn, try, ask questions, stay curious, identify and rely on women role models, learn about people in general and those specific to your field of interest, fail and try again. And don’t forget to give back to the next generation of entrepreneurs and your community.'
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