Semaine de la langue française et de la francophonie: Workshop on innovation and Design Thinking

Jointly organized by ParisTech JiaoTong University, swissnex China, The Consulate General of Switzerland in Shanghai, and the Consulate General of France in Shanghai, the workshop on innovation and Design Thinking attracted many students as well as seasoned experts from various companies. Fully conducted in French to celebrate the Semaine de la langue française et de la francophonie —an annual celebration of French language and francophone cultures— the event was attended by a balanced mix of enthusiastic native and non-native French-speakers. To this effect, Chinese students were especially motivated in speaking French throughout the event. 

With innovation as the theme, the main feature of the day was a workshop on Design Thinking, including a competition among the students.  First inaugurated by a speech from Cédric Denis-Rémis (Dean of ParisTech Shanghai Jiao Tong) and Pascal Marmier (CEO of swissnex China), the participants were then informed on the format of the competition where they were randomly grouped into teams, asked to think about different problems or issues within an industry, and come up with creative solutions. 

Students, assisted by mentors whose role was to guide the group through the Design Thinking process, could experience the importance of collaboration and discussion when working in the field of innovation. Supplied with a large variety of tools, including adhesive notes, blank wallpapers, markers, or even computers, creativity was highly stimulated without any compromise on entertainment. 

In the end, each team presented their idea and a jury formed of several industry experts provided feedback in addition to a rating to determine the winner. It should be noted that students were very resourceful concerning the format of the presentations, with some even entirely miming their inventions!

Attendees largely contributed to the success of the event, the commitment and creativity from the participants as well as the insights from industry professionals were particularly appreciated. With over 60 participating students – from SJTU-ParisTech Elite Institute of Technology, ParisTech, Institut Franco-Chinois de l'université Renmin de Chine, French School of Shanghai and Ecole Polytechnique , 10 experts – such as Sanofi's Head of Business Development Asia , the CEO of Pixolabs, Pernod Ricard's Strategic Planning Director or Lyonbiopôle's China Project Manager, and numerous members from the organizing parties and their friends, the event was also a fantastic opportunity to network and meet people from different backgrounds.

- Contributed by Jean-Pierre Trang, Junior Project Leader in cooperation with HEC Lausanne