The Education Innovation Laboratory recently came back from Boston, Massachusetts, with 40 Latvian leaders who spent a week at Massachusetts Institute of Technology developing innovation projects and learning from global best practices in areas like design-thinking, strategic development, innovation ecosystem strengthening, and much more. One of the participants from the Ecosystem Innovation Project Leadership Program, Aivars Lipenitis, shared his reflection and biggest takeaways from the week: 

In the beginning of August, I returned from my time at Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a renewed passion and energy for the work that I am a part of, the innovation project that  my team and I are developing, and for the overall community of change-makers in Latvia. Now I have had a chance to process the new knowledge and inspiration with my colleagues, and consider the long-term impact that this experience has had on me and the project. When reflecting on the week at MIT, there are three things that come to mind: 

1. MIT itself:  Visiting this global innovation powerhouse was a really meaningful experience. When I began my bachelor’s studies, I quickly became a big fan of MIT and made a daily habit of  reading their reports and publications. This practice has kept me up to date with the upcoming trends, as well as developments in the innovation world. The impact that this university has had on me isn’t only in my professional life, but personal as well. For example, some of the best sound systems on the globe including what I use every day to enjoy music are engineered by Bose, which was born and developed at MIT. There are many examples of businesses and inventions that we use regularly that come from this university and their students/faculty leaving their legacy on the world we all live in.

2. The people and culture of this program: When I applied to be a part of the Ecosystem Innovation Project Leadership Program, I knew that this would be a unique opportunity. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the entire experience with the group of other participants as well as the project management from the Education Innovation Laboratory team made me feel positive about our future. Getting the opportunity to focus on the innovation project that I have in mind, as well as being able to collaborate with other passionate leaders from various Latvian institutions was very valuable. This left me feeling confident about the future, not only in Latvia, but internationally as I witnessed a great cross-Atlantic collaboration, both between my peers as well as the program creators.

3. The value of an open mind: Having a growth mindset is crucial when participating in this type of a cohort, it allows you to be challenged and to further develop. If curiosity drives you and pushes you to reach out for feedback to peers and experts on campus, as in my case, the very basis as well as specifics of your project and even how you see things in overall can be shaken. Often the fear of the unknown and the discomfort that confrontation brings leads people to closing off opportunities to hear from different perspectives. Thankfully, I was prepared for that and kept many options open in the concept of the innovation project that I have been working on throughout my participation in this program, and I believe that this feedback supports the development of my project to be only more efficient and sustainable.

In addition to all of this, through this program I have gained new inspiring acquaintances and friends, potential partners for my innovation project, and created another reason to visit Boston in future to further develop the valuable connections gained during this visit.

The project is funded by the European Regional Development Fund under project No. “Support for RTU International Cooperation Projects in Research and Innovation”.

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