EPFL EMBA:
HARNESSING INNOVATION

The longest running European EMBA focused on technology and innovation management

COMMON QUESTIONS

The EPFL EMBA focuses on harnessing innovation. Firstly, we differentiate between novelty or invention, and innovation.  Innovation is the combination of novel and existing ideas, methods and services that brings value to an organization. Working from that basis, each one of our courses aims to answer the thesis question “how does this topic encourage, facilitate or support innovative activity?” By examining each course topic under this lens, we don’t just provide the core elements of an EMBA, but we train innovation leaders to have the tools and strategic outlook to harness innovation for the benefit of their organization.

English is the language of instruction, and the one used among participants throughout the whole program, therefore fluency in oral and written English is required.

The EPFL EMBA starts in the last week of August every year and finishes December of the following year.

Classes meet every two weeks on Friday and Saturday from 9:15am until 5:45pm, with two exceptions: The first week of the program (in August) requires a full week of presence – Monday through Sunday. In addition, there is an international 10-day study trip during the second half of November, just prior to the completion of the program

EPFL is one of the top Universities in the world. It’s been ranked number one “International University” in the world, number one “Young University”, and is consistently in the top 20 of the global rankings of all universities. According to the Shanghai ranking, EPFL is the number 2 Technology Universities in Europe. The EPFL EMBA is fully accredited by the Association of MBAs, or AMBA – the European standard for MBA program accreditation.

A minimum of 50 students per class is required to allow an MBA program to enter an international ranking. Our program will never be this size, as we insist upon having classes specifically designed for highly personalized one-to-one interactions (max. of 36 students per year)

The program has 24 course modules that will walk you through the process of taking an idea from concept to commercialization. It starts with idea generation and follows a coherent path through all the relevant management topics finally ending at the topic of managing and executing sales.

In parallel, you will work with two main projects: the Business Venture Project and the Strategic & Innovative Project program, ending with a study trip to South Africa where you will be in contact and working with, local businesses.

It’s important to make classroom time dynamic and productive. To avoid using class time to cover materials that people may already know, we use a blended learning method that we refer to as “leveling up”.  We deliver the theoretical and foundational material online, prior to the first class session in order to ensure that all people are at a common level of understanding.

The classroom is where theory meets practice. We work to combine academic expertise with industry practitioners, and often team them up in the classroom. This “co-teaching” helps build a dialogue between theory and practice and brings a whole new dynamic to case studies – you don’t just learn the theory, you also learn from people who have been there and done that.

We use a multi-method approach to grading and evaluating student performance. In general, evaluation is not exam-based. Instead, we use a combination of quizzes for the leveling of material, individual and group deliverables, and, in order to encourage interaction, we also have an element for participation in classroom discussions.

The group venture project is built around a business or product concept. It’s a process whereby a small team, usually three to four people, forms around a concept, refines it to a product idea, defines its market and business model, develops a strategy and examines

it’s true market potential and viability. This culminates with a group presentation to a diverse panel of industry experts in late April, about halfway through the program.

The Strategic and Innovative Project (SIP) is the thesis project of the EPFL EMBA.

It is carried out within the context of a company, ideally the one in which you work. The SIP is about developing and/or analyzing something that is of a strategic or innovative nature to the company.  We understand that the SIP usually deals with sensitive information so it is kept completely confidential, between the participant, the company, the academic supervisor and the president of the thesis jury.  It is never published nor is it part of the university library.

First you need to submit your application online. The applications that meet minimum requirements then go to the interview process, where you are interviewed by an application committee. Simultaneously, files are evaluated by the academic services. All the information is then sent to the steering committee, who review all the files and they make a decision. Finally, you are informed about the decision. If you are accepted accepted you have 30 days to make the initial tuition payment in order to secure your seat in the next class cohort

Applications are done via the link provided on the EPFL EMBA website.

At this time there is no provision for financial aid or scholarships directly through the program, however there may be opportunities through third party organizations.

Decisions are generally provided no later than 30 days after the application deadline.

Generally, for every hour of class you, can expect to do about two hours of work at home. This includes preparation readings and assignment completion.

In addition, you should expect to invest up to 250 hours per person for the group Venture Project, and up to 500 hours on the individual SIP project.

Even though it is possible to complete the EPFL EMBA while working a full time, we recommend that participants decrease your work percentage to 80%. While you will only miss every other Friday (in addition to the welcome week at the beginning and the 10-day study trip at the end of the program), this is a demanding program, and experience has demonstrated that participants will need an additional day every couple of weeks in order to accommodate the various deliverables.

Because the EPFL EMBA classes only meet two days every two weeks, this intensity is not sufficient to merit a student visa in Switzerland. Therefore if you are not already living and working in Switzerland, or one of its neighboring countries, like France, Italy or Germany it may not be feasible for you to take part in the EPFL EMBA.

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