If you want to be more successful in your university collaborations, You must become a digital challenge sponsor.

Every day, I have the pleasure to talk to Executives from a variety of industries and geographies to discuss strategies that allow them to merge innovation and talent management practices.

In this context I am often asked what the secret ingredients are that make up successful university business collaborations.

I don’t often give the answer that is expected; which is to stay focussed on existing university relations, give occasional lecturing about your work experiences, products and services, promote research activities at work and open the gates for student internships as well as graduate entry-level positions.

While those are all very important elements of traditional university collaborations, there is one factor that yields amazing results when it comes to collaborate with academia at scale today – to become a digital challenge sponsor!

What’s the role of a Digital Challenge Sponsor?

In this day and age becoming a digital challenge sponsor is a fairly straightforward path as long as you are open to publish and collaborate on some of your day-to-day challenges, online.

Once you’re on you will start to be on the lookout for opportunities to collaborate and extend existing corporate university alliances, based on your challenges at hand.

Although your prime goal may be to source “innovative” solutions in form of reports, analysis, prototypes and MVPs, undoubtedly you will get in contact with a very diverse group of student and faculty talents from all over the world.

Instantly, you will become and serve as a partner in promoting solutions by offering invaluable rapid feedback to students that collaborate with you as problem solvers based on your real world experience and deep expertise.

To be more specific, as a digital challenge sponsor you bring context, real insights and data of a particular area to the table. You clarify, frame, and pitch your challenges prior to exploring solutions with your student teams.

Your collaboration efforts, will help student teams become thought after problem solvers with applied skill sets that will lead to better solutions overall.

Last but not least, you support university professors providing practical learning experiences to their courses and help universities upgrade their curriculum with challenge-based education.

A very rewarding journey all the way.

Who is the ideal Challenge Sponsor?

The ideal challenge sponsor is an entity and/or subject matter expert with experience and expertise in the field related to the challenges at hand. For example, executives or line managers all be ideal challenge sponsors for challenges related to their role and responsibility.

What is the expected time commitment?

Since most of us are very busy with our day-to-day jobs, this question is of utmost importance.

When we observe mine or our customers commitment, collaborating during 90 days with student teams, we see a variety of engagements or time commits taking place.

Not all yield the same results and there is no universal answer to this question.

However, to collaborate on simultaneous multi-university and multi-course engagements, we have carefully crafted and developed a “Governance Model” over the years that allow for efficient yet effective innovation and talent scouting activities.

While I was fortunate enough to have parents that allowed me to access quality education and later supported me to attend top universities across Europe and the US, it always struck me that the education system was increasingly theoretical and boring. I strongly believe we need to transition from a 20th century approach heavily reliant on conventional learning to a 21st century curriculum focused on:

  • digital and multidisciplinary collaboration,
  • critical thinking,
  • creative problem solving through action or experiential-learning
  • better and broader connected teachers to industry vs. simply focusing on teaching non-practical related skills.

For young talent to be prepared for tomorrows’ even faster paced world, we must ensure that compassion for solving challenges is taught in every classroom and provide students with sufficient experiences solving challenges and an opportunity to acquire skills they need to obtain the jobs that are and will be vs. the jobs that once were.

Above all else, I believe that university business collaboration must focus – significantly more, on successfully preparing future generations with quality challenge-based education in a joint approach.

I’ve thankfully had the opportunity to stay involved in the world of education ever since I graduated. However, it wasn’t until we founded TELANTO that I realised that education was only one part of the equation, and that conventional education without access to a industry collaboration with contemporary technologies was incomplete.

TELANTO’s fundamental value proposition is connecting company challenges to students all over the world. I am proud to say that in a relatively short period of time we’ve made significant progress in this area, thanks to the many co-innovation initiatives with academia, industry and students. We are now at a point in which we can onboard the global student community onto TELANTO to help them “learning by solving” real company challenges, find a job and be more successful in their studies and future career paths.

However, there is much more work to be done than just matching universities and businesses as many of these opportunities will remain far out of reach for talented individuals without access to education.

When I look at TELANTO’s Academic Business Cloud and Network respectively, I see a fast growing best-in-class collection of high-quality course offerings that are focused on collaborating with industry to provide skilfully crafted solutions that make it possible for any company to easily and effectively access and manage innovation and talent on demand.

@ TELANTO, we follow the university business collaboration space very closely, rooted in the conviction that today’s manual “knowledge and talent transfer” practices are in need to progress through digital means that help to scale relationships and make them more meaningful, accessible and sequential.

When someone asks me for advice on how to go about realising a better university business collaboration, I always make sure to leave them with three suggestions. First, know your university / industry alliances and what you get out of it – defeat silo-thinking and in-transparencies. Second, be open to change, because in a knowledge-driven economy, it’s all about being curious. And finally, there is no learning without action and no action without learning.

The world we are living in moves too quickly to rest on the knowledge we gained earlier in our lives. TELANTO will ultimately help make the third point a reality for every member of our global Academic Business Network.


As a digital challenge sponsor you should at least invest two workshops (kick-off and wrap-up) to achieve successful challenge frames and pitches, as well as participation in the final presentation(s) or wrap-up event(s).

There are also weekly or bi-monthly checkpoints available to you with the selected project teams and faculty members, which you should respect and attend.

Collaborating with your colleagues, end users and other community members will certainly add to the mix.

What are the benefits of being a Digital Challenge Sponsor?

As a digital challenge sponsor you will appreciate the unique benefit of working directly with young, creative and motivated university students interested in helping solve the challenges that matter most to you.

Furthermore, you will get a unique opportunity to help shape solutions by giving feedback to students early and often, focusing their solutions’ iterations on your and your users’ needs.

Visualise the benefit of comparing solution outputs, ideas, student performance as well as selecting the most innovative, efficient or effective solutions alongside a pool of talents for your company to move forward with.

What type of support can I expect from Challenge Coaching?

Once you have decided to become a digital challenge sponsor you can not only rely on TELANTO’s Academic Business Cloud allowing you to massively scale your innovation and talent sourcing activities but also learn the necessary tricks to become really successful with our challenge coaching services.

We deliver challenge coaching similar to driving lessons.

We get you into gear and help you shift depending on the desired velocity and circumstances. From the basics to the most complex interactions keeping you safe depending on traffic, signals and roads.

How and where to start, how to articulate challenges, how to negotiate during the scoping sessions with potential faculty members, how to virtually collaborate with students in multiple locations and universities simultaneously and how to design a concurrent mechanism to create a challenge funnel while converting solutions into new challenge iterations, how to assess collaborations and results and how to manage and make decisions based on the available talent pool are just a few of the learning.

Once you complete a set of challenge coaching activities you are ready to be more successful in your digital university collaborations.

If you are interested in becoming a Digital Challenge Sponsor and/or know someone who would be Superb, please send me a note or schedule a call with me: www.calendly.com/telanto

If you are interested in becoming a TELANTO challenge sponsor and/or know someone who would be Awesome: Book a call
Do you want to collaborate with more universities?

Hey, I’m Christian. Alongside a super talented team I am on the mission to disrupt university-business collaborations with TELANTO’s Academic Business Network.

About Christian

Christian is the visionary and innovation leader behind TELANTO spearheading the design of TELANTO’s market leading Academic Business Cloud solutions. I founded TELANTO after identifying a growing need amongst universities to switch their conventional teaching practices towards digital action learning and allowing organisations instant access to a global talent pool of students to leverage remarkably new ways of Open Innovation, Employer Branding and Recruiting Practices.

Popular Posts