Software Campus: an innovative e-leadership programme for excellence

In 2015 empirica completed the evaluation of the Software Campus initiative. Software Campus is a unique cooperation between government, education and industry that supports young researchers in ICT. Each participant works on an academic project, which is funded by Software Campus. Apart from that, the candidates receive high quality leadership training. Therefore, they collaborate with a partner company, where they are mentored by an experienced manager and contribute with their research. In addition, training for leadership and social competences is an important part of the scheme.
Software Campus was originated from the idea to create a new generation of managers with an advanced ICT background. These competences are of great importance since all classical industrial domains are influenced by the evolution of ICT nowadays. New players enter the scene, new rules apply and disruptive scenarios might occur. Classical business economists might not anymore have the relevant knowledge to assess these new developments and decide what is appropriate for their company. In this way, the new leaders have to have both economic competences and excellent ICT skills.
A total of 18 stakeholders, consisting of universities, companies and research institutions, contribute to the MSP. Industry partners include major names such as DHL, Siemens, SAP and others. It was a major priority to include companies from different economic sectors and foster a platform for precompetitive work.
The first steps for Software Campus were taken at the German National IT Summit in 2010. The working group for Education and Research, together with SAP CEO Jim Hagemann Snabe, developed the idea of a scheme that brings ICT researchers closer to industry. In a next step, academic and industrial partners were recruited. One important aspect was to include companies from different branches. In 2011 the project entered into a pilot phase that was launched at that year’s IT Summit. An evaluation is planned for 2014/2015 and should be conducted by one of the partner universities.
Software Campus’s approach is unique in the European ICT landscape. It addresses the very core of e-leadership, providing participants with an academic and an industrial partner. Also the financial support is exceptional, totalling up to 100,000€ per candidate and project.
EIT Lab Berlin coordinates the initiative. During the application process, the universities and companies both assess the candidates’ qualifications. After the participants are selected, the grants are required with the Ministry of Education and Research. Software Campus’ daily business is managed by EIT Lab working groups, who receive contributions from the industrial and academic partners.