The future as a case

When you put on a pair of virtual reality glasses and retreat into a virtual laboratory, you would be inclined to think that you were trying out a concept for the future.

22 March 2016

But that is not the case with the Danish company Labster. They are already in the market with their product, which is used by big universities such as Harvard, MIT and Stanford.

Labster was a case company for the students on the Top-up Bachelor's degree in International Sales and Marketing Management and offers access to virtual 3D laboratories.

The idea is that students get the chance to conduct laboratory experiments and work with equipment which is expensive and difficult to attain access to under normal circumstances. By using a simulation, the learning experience is not only as good, but better, and the price and the practical requirements are a lot different from having a physical laboratory.

So explains Mikkel Marfelt, Ph.D. from Copenhagen Business School and part of Labster, when he introduced the task to the students on 17 February.

To Labster, it is about taking on the issue of ‘STEM Crisis’. Educating and retaining more people in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). According to multiple reports, these are fields at the risk of running low on qualified people on a global scale unless action is taken.

Virtual reality was a hit

After introducing the task of which Labster would like input from the students; How to sucessfully enter the Scandinavian STEM market, representatives fra Cphbusiness ‘Decision Making Unit’ came to the stage.

The unit consisted of representatives from the IT departement and from the campus in Hillerød, where the laboratory technicians and environmental technologists from Cphbusiness are studying, Cphbusiness Laboratorie og Miljø. Cphbusiness might actually be a potential customer for a company such as Labster, but what considerations does the head of IT have when getting involved with a new supplier? And what is important to the students who’ll use the system? Or to the lecturers?

These were some of the aspects the panelists discussed on the stage on 17 February before the great attraction of the day was presented; the virtual reality headsets.

The queue stretched through the room, and the three virtual reality headsets were busy while the reprensentatives from Labster instructed the students who were immersed in the virtual space.

Three weeks of intensive work on a ‘real’ case had begun!

Following up on the leads

Three weeks after the introduction with Labster, all the students presented their solutions to the lecturers, who selected the best three to advance to the finals. In the finals, the three groups presented their solution to Labster, the lecturers and all the students on the year. The winning group was class 1Q, group 2.

Labster on Facebook

Labster was very satisfied with the case competition and has tasked an employee to follow up on the concrete leads provided by the students at Cphbusiness and to look into implementing the proposed solutions in Scandinavia.

An equal amount of satisfaction can be found at Cphbusiness, where lecturer at the study programme Andreas Kiær Thomsen values the cooperation with companies such as Labster.

- Through our case competition, our students get to experience that what we teach them can actually be put to use in the real world! Many of our case companies end up giving our students internships - internships which, for many of the students, turn into real employments. It’s a win-win situation for us all, he says.