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Virtual Entrepreneurship Week 2020: Entrepreneurship for the Recovery from Pandemic


Niharika Dayaneni,  UM-SJTU Joint Institute, Joseph Blanco, UM-SJTU Joint Institute, Caiwei Chen, UM-SJTU Joint Institute, Pradeep K. Ray, Director, Centre For Entrepreneurship (CFE), UM-SJTU Joint Institute.

The Center for Entrepreneurship at University of Michigan-Shanghai Jiao Tong University (JI-CFE hereafter) has co-hosted the third Entrepreneurship Week Event with the IEEE TEMS on October 23rd and 24th, 2020.

Entrepreneurship Week (EW) is an event initiated by JI-CFE with the inaugural event held in Shanghai, China, in 2018[1] bringing together academics, entrepreneurs and practitioners of technology entrepreneurship across the globe. From its beginning, JI-CFE worked closely with IEEE TEMS for this event, which continued to its second year in Bangkok, Thailand September 2019[2].  Building on continuing cooperation, JI-CFE became a knowledge partner of IEEE TEMS early in 2020 and helped establish an IEEE TEMS Student Chapter at the University of Michigan-Shanghai Jiao Tong University Joint Institute (UM-SJTU JI).

The EW2020 was organized virtually due to the COVID-19 global pandemic and simplified into two days of panels composed of distinguished speakers, with in-depth discussion on technology entrepreneurship on the first day and sustainable development on the second. The event also included university student entrepreneurship with the award ceremony for JI-CFE’s COVID-19 Challenge, showcasing student entrepreneurship ideas in dealing with the pandemic, and the inauguration of the IEEE TEMS Student Chapter at UM-SJTU JI, the first of its kind in China. Taking full advantage of the online platform it attracted more than 100 attendants from over 25 countries representing five continents of the world.

[1] S. Ro, D. Brian, P. Ray, Entrepreneurship Week 2018, IEEE LEADER, November 2018.

[2] F. Shah, P. Ray, R. Alcoba, S. Ro, Entrepreneurship Week 2019 Connects Innovators and Social Entrepreneurs for Sustainable and Inclusive Belt and Road Region, IEEE Leader, December 2019.

Day 1: October 23rd: Technology Entrepreneurship

The event opened with the welcome speech by the Dean of UM-SJTU JI, Prof. Peisen Huang, highlighting the value of international cooperation among different institutions for the future of engineering education, social innovation and technology entrepreneurship as demonstrated by IEEE TEMS and JI-CFE.

Welcome speech by Prof. Peisen Huang (Dean, UM-SJTU Joint Institute)

The keynote speech was delivered by Mr. Andy Chen, the President of IEEE Technology and Engineering Management Society, sharing the background, progress and vision for the society and clearly demonstrating the vast and various resources the society can contribute for the positive growth of technology and sustainable entrepreneurship.

Keynote Speech by Mr. Andy Chen, President of IEEE TEMS

Mr.  Ravikiran Annaswamy, Vice President of IEEE TEMS, followed up with a presentation on the organization and activities of IEEE TEMS, emphasizing the benefits to both professional and student members. This talk led to the next agenda of the event, the inauguration of the IEEE TEMS Student Branch at the UM-SJTU Joint Institute. The interim leadership of this newly established branch made a short presentation and they were formally inaugurated with the blessings from the President and Vice President of the IEEE TEMS.

Following this, there was an award ceremony for the COVID-19 Challenge held in March 2020 by the JI-CFE.  The challenge consisted of 11 participating teams who submitted their innovative ideas to improve life during the pandemic. The final 9 teams presented their business models in front of three independent judges: Prof. Zhigang Zhang from neoBay (China), Mr. Rupayan Chowdury, CEO of Synesis IT(Bangladesh), and Mr. Alexander Bugge, COO of REFUNITE (Denmark).

COVID-19 Challenge Winners Announcement

Prof. Zhigang Zhang, who also serves as the general manager of neoBay Venture Capital in Shanghai, China followed up with an address on “The International Ecosystem for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.” He highlighted, in the context of the pandemic, the importance of the entrepreneurship ecosystem for startup survival and how recent set-backs in globalization brought about by the pandemic and other international circumstances emphasize the importance of creating a network of international ecosystems.

The final session of Day 1 was a panel discussion on the topic “Evolving Business Model Canvas and its Suitability for Entrepreneurship in Asia”. The panelists included Dr. Shahriar Akter, associate professor at Wollongong Business School (Australia), Mr. Rupayan Chowdury, CEO of Synesis IT (Bangladesh), Dr. Sudeendra Koushik, Co-founder of PRASU (India) and VP Conferences IEEE, and host Mr. Jerry Zhu, CEO of SimpliCity (China). This panel discussed points such as recovery from the pandemic, socio-economic factors, the role of technology, and society through the application of the business model canvas in Asia.

Day 2: Sustainable Development

The second day of the event began with opening remarks by Ravikiran Annaswamy, VP of IEEE TEMS.

2nd Day Opening Remarks by Mr. Ravi Annaswamy, VP IEEE TEMS

The first session on the second day was titled “mHealth for Belt and Road Region’ moderated by Prof. Pradeep Ray. This session presented the result of a unique multinational, multidisciplinary and multi-stakeholder research project with the same title started in the first Entrepreneurship Week event in 2018. It also worked as the book launch that summarized the result of this project published by the IET ( The five section leaders of the book – Dr. Sam Ro of SJTU (China), Prof. Arthur Serrano from NTNU (Norway), Dr. Yasuhrio Soshino, Redcross Kumamoto Hospital (Japan), Dr. Raghava Mukkamala, Copenhagen Business School (Denmark), Dr. Rakibul Hoque, Dhaka University (Bangladesh), and Dr. Ashir Ahmed, Kyushu University (Japan) – led the discussion with introduction of each chapter by the authors. There were no less than 20 speakers altogether in this celebratory session. 

Participants for mHealth for Belt and Road Region Project

The final panel was based on “Green Entrepreneurship to Address Climate Change and Sustainable Development”. The panelists were Dr. Faiz Shah, CEO of Yunus Center at Asia Institute of Technology, Dr. Anson Wong, Chief Executive at The Do School Asia Ltd, Dr. Sardar Masud Karim, UNSW Group on Rapid Urbanisation and Public Health, and was moderated by Dr. Kwee-Yan Teh from the UM-SJTU Joint Institute. This gave a chance for an in-depth examination of meaningful creativity and ingenuity, benefiting businesses, people, and the planet.

Panelists for “Green Entrepreneurship to Address Climate Change and Sustainable Development”

The event ended with the concluding remarks by the President of IEEE TEMS and participants also remained for a free online networking session.  Bringing together academics, practitioners, industry partners, and researchers from all over the world. In an online but interactive and cordial environment, the EW2020 provided invaluable insight into the role of entrepreneurship in addressing global challenges such as the COVID-19 with the help of real case studies on technology entrepreneurship and innovation for sustainable development.

For more details about the event, please visit the CFE website:


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Ravikiran Annaswamy

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