Please note! Course description is confirmed for two academic years, which means that in general, e.g. Learning outcomes, assessment methods and key content stays unchanged. However, via course syllabus, it is possible to specify or change the course execution in each realization of the course, such as how the contact sessions are organized, assessment methods weighted or materials used.


This course has been designed to enhance student's understanding of the design infused process expert entrepreneurs rely on to transform ideas into opportunities often in highly ambiguous and uncertain contexts. After this course, students will: a) discover the importance of empathetically framing opportunities, b) hone their ability to apply design thinking principles in practice, c) be able to craft persuasive and engaging messages, and d) practice the art of effectuation/design doing as a basis for driving innovation in their own fields of interest.

Credits: 6

Schedule: 29.10.2020 - 03.12.2020

Teacher in charge (valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022): Peter Kelly

Teacher in charge (applies in this implementation): Peter Kelly

Contact information for the course (valid 24.09.2020-21.12.2112):

The course instructor is "at your service" - in adherence with ongoing social distancing guidelines, contact should be made remotely. I am happy to meet face-to-face consistent with operating principles in place at Aalto.

Remote contact channels:      +358 (0)41 503 4508 (mobile)      theideastudio (skype)

My physical habitat:

Tuas Talo, Maarintie 8, Office 2168 (next to Aalto Ventures Program, 2nd floor)

CEFR level (applies in this implementation):

Language of instruction and studies (valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022):

Teaching language: English

Languages of study attainment: English


  • Valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022:

    Expert entrepreneurs: a) spot patterns where others see chaos, b) are grounded in a deep and empathetic understanding of the context within which customers operate and/or solutions sought, c) prototype potential solutions quickly and cheaply to garner feedback, d) openly engage with outside parties to shape the opportunity and share the risk, and e) trust their instincts and intuition in knowing what customers need even if they are unable to articulate it. The group challenge is based on a contemporary issue that is both provocative and open to interpretation.

  • Applies in this implementation:

    Students should know how to:

    • explore challenges through an empathetic and multidisciplinary lens
    • move from pretotype to prototype
    • persuasively communicate visually and orally

Assessment Methods and Criteria
  • Valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022:

    Lectures, workshops, exercises and field study. Individual essay, individual challenge and a group challenge.

  • Applies in this implementation:

    This course involves both individual tasks (50%) and a group project (50%)

    The course instructor will join each group as a mentor. Groups will be working "in camera" - the project will conducted and mentored in private until the "big reveal" in the last scheduled session of the course.

  • Applies in this implementation:

    6 ECTS = 162 hours workload

    Individual assignments, preparation and background reading    45 hours

    Group assignment  90 hours

    Remote interaction (meetups, mentoring)  27 hours


Study Material
  • Valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022:

    Saras Sarasvathy "What Makes Entrepreneurs Entrepreneurial?" and a design thinking/doing resource compendium provided on the course web page

  • Applies in this implementation:

    For your reference and support, a deep reservoir of material on design thinking is uploaded in MyCourses. This curated collection is designed to inspire, inform and support your efforts to hone your design thinking and doing skills. 

Substitutes for Courses
  • Valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022:

    Replaces the courses TU-91.2045 Design & Innovation in Context.

  • Valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022:


SDG: Sustainable Development Goals

    8 Decent Work and Economic Growth

    9 Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure

    17 Partnerships for the Goals


Details on the schedule
  • Applies in this implementation:

    Week 2 From Design Thinking to Design Doing 

    Week 3 Coffee Experience Challenge

    Week 4 Rapid Opportunity Prototyping

    Week 6 Group Presentations