VCP Forum: innovative teaching through the pandemic

What is the topic that can connect 35 educators, from 18 teaching institutions, across five different continents, into one Zoom call? The answer is Venture Creation Programs, also known as VCPs.

By Karoline Lund Johansen

The VCP Forum is run by Engage and is a annual event that usually takes place as a two-day conference in October. It is a forum where teaching institutions offering Venture Creation Programs meet to share experiences, challenges, science, and good-case practices with one another. 

Venture Creation Programs

Venture creation programs, VCPs, are educational programs where students start a business as part of their education. Read more about VCPs here.

The VCP Forum for 2020 was planned as a two-day event in beautiful Buckingham, England. However, the pandemic made this difficult to arrange and the event is therefore postponed to 2022. Instead, the NTNUs School of Entrepreneurship and Engage invited VCP teaching institutions worldwide, to a digital mini-conference. 

Challenges and possibilities

Even Haug Larsen, Assistant Professor at NTNU School of Entrepreneurship and project manager for the VCP Forum, explains that to ensure continuity for the forum and maintain a growing network, it was essential to find alternative means to host the forum this year. Larsen tells us that they waited to host the online meeting until March 2021 so that everyone would get a chance to get a little distance and some perspective on the pandemic, which was the focus of this year’s conference. 

The pandemic created many VCP educators’ struggles, such as delivering high-quality education and guidance to the students and their ventures. However, the pandemic also required educators to become innovators: New communication channels and new classroom structures have opened up new options for educators. While the institutions now will seek to go back to in-person learning, they will also continue using and improving the tools and methods developed during the pandemic.

The future of digital solutions

The digital version of the forum was a great success. This new digital way of delivering a the VCP Forum has also given new inputs on developing the forum to be better in the future. 

“Some of the most engaging discussions were in a segment where students from the NTNU School of Entrepreneurship talked about the challenges the pandemic has presented them with. Having the perspective from students present at the forum is something that we definitely will continue to do in the future.” 

Even Haug Larsen, Assistant Professor, NTNU School of Entrepreneurship

Since the digital version of the forum was so successful, will this affect how future VCP Forums are carried out?

“The feedback from most of the participants is that they see the benefit of meeting both online and physically. We are looking at ways we can do both, maybe every other year online and every other year physically.”

Even Haug Larsen, Assistant Professor, NTNUs School of Entrepreneurship

No matter what position we have found ourselves in this year, whether it is as an event organiser, educator, student, or something completely different, this past year has been a year where we explored the possibilities the online world offers. Even though we have found many benefits to this new existence of ours, we have also discovered its limitations. It is still impossible to replace the benefit of the in-person networking that happens in a lunch break or to simulate the engaging one-to-one conversations you have in the coffee line during a 15-minute break in between classes.

Make sure to check out our article about how Engage put together a list of universities offering venture creation programs here.