Changemakers

EPFL Changemakers is a 10-week program for students ready to embark on a great learning journey, boost their innovation and entrepreneurial skills, reflect on their impact, and turn their idea into a real-life project.

As part of the Changemakers program, you will be exposed to new ways of thinking, you will challenge yourself, access expertise and insightful resources, as well as learn from your peers. Developing an entrepreneurial project will help you develop a new mindset, where creativity and problem-solving are at the core of how you work and approach the world.

During Changemakers, you will:

  • Develop key skills and competencies that will be valuable throughout your career
  • Build your early-stage idea into a project or future startup
  • Join a community of like-minded people with whom you will share your journey
  • Meet experts, entrepreneurs and be supported by coaches along the way

The program is open to all EPFL Bachelor, Master or PhD students. We welcome a broad spectrum of projects in Changemakers, and encourage those who are expected to have a significant positive impact on society and or the environment.

Your progress and success will depend on your own motivation and commitment. We look beyond performance on paper and instead focus on your capacity to bring forward exciting projects!

The next Changemakers 2022 edition has already started and will last until December 2022. If you want to join the next cohort in 2023, please contact us.

Previous editions

  • A 1.5-day immersion bootcamp to help you understand the problem you are trying to solve, how you can have an impact on the world and get ready for the journey that is to come.
  • Hands-on weekly workshops to help you embrace the concepts behind project success – from solving an unmet need to pretotyping and assessing impact.
  • An inspiring half-day excursion to discover your authentic leadership skills.
  • Community sessions where you will meet sustainability driven innovators, and get to know yourself and the other participants a little better.
  • A Final Award Ceremony where you will pitch your project and progress to a wide public audience.
  • Finally, you can expect to have a lot of fun during the sessions and with the people you’ll meet. From experience, Changemakers become good friends during the program!
  • You get dedicated coaching to help guide you or your team and your project.
  • You will meet a wide range of innovation, entrepreneurship, leadership and sustainability experts in the workshops and dedicated coaching sessions.
  • Peer-to-peer exchanges with the other participants, and other EPFL student entrepreneurs.
  • Through the Changemakers network, you will make connections with like-minded students and meet potential partners.
  • Access to The Station, a student entrepreneur space, 7/7 days. If you complete the program you get access for the rest of your studies
  • Opportunity to access to the tools at the EPFL Maker space (eligibility on a case-by-case basis)
  • Awards and prizes for the best projects at the Award Ceremony

Here is the program that you will follow during the 10 weeks. The program contains additional coaching and community sessions that are not stated in the list below. Note that this program can be subject to changes.

Workshops are given by guest speakers and experts, as well as by the Changemakers team. The full list of speakers will be announced soon.

  • Week 0 – 1.5 Day Bootcamp
  • Week 1 – Understanding your customers, beneficiaries and users
  • Week 2 – Coaching
  • Week 3 – Building your value proposition
  • Week 4 – Building a pre-prototype of your idea
  • Week 5 – Coaching by expert guest panel
  • Week 6 – Testing your pre-prototypes with the community
  • Week 6 – Half-day outting on leadership
  • Week 7 – Sustainability: how to improve your impact
  • Week 8 – Business models
  • Week 9 – Pitch training & pitch practice
  • Week 10 – Final Award Ceremony event

To apply to the Changemakers, you need to:

  • Prepare a 1 minute application video in English. You are free to send us whatever you want as long as it is ethical, and that we understand who you are and why we should choose you. You can upload this video into any platform (Vimeo, Youtube, Google Drive) and add the URL to your application form. Don’t forget to give us access !

FAQ

Who can apply?

To be able to participate, you need to be enrolled at EPFL during the application process as a Bachelor, Master or PhD student.

Do I need an entrepreneurship idea to participate?

Yes, you need an initial idea that you would like to develop during the program. Don’t worry if your idea changes during the program, it can be part of the entrepreneurial journey.

What type of ideas are accepted?

Your startup idea can be tech or non-tech driven and follow a profit or not-for-profit model (as long as it is financially viable). Ideally, it will have a significant positive impact on society and or the environment. Please note that your startup idea must be consistent with applicable law and ethical values. If you are unsure of whether your idea would qualify, please get in touch with us at [email protected]

How advanced do I need to be with my startup idea?

EPFL Changemakers is designed for students who have an idea in mind that they didn’t really started implementing. If you already started working on your idea, feel free to apply too. However, if we consider that you are too advanced for the program, we might redirect you to another more advanced entrepreneurship program.

We want to join as a team, can we do so?

You can, however note that each team member that wants to take part in the program needs to fill a separate application form including the application video presenting themselves. The Changemaker status is personal. Of course, for some questions, you can answer the same thing (idea presentation, market need) and submit a team video.

What is I can’t join all of the sessions?

We do not want you to miss out, however we are aware of how packed your EPFL schedule is and that you might need to miss a session once in a while.

The best is for you to note your conflicting classes in the application form so we can schedule accordingly.

If you are unsure about your schedule, you can also leave us your comments via email or mark it at the end of the application form.

Note that if you miss too many sessions or don’t participate fully to them, we will not be able to keep you in the program.

Do I have to work between the workshops?

Yes, we are looking for motivated students that are ready to take some of their free-time to make their project move forward. During workshops, you will learn to use tools that will help you advance your project and the evolution of it will also depend on the work you do between sessions.

Do I have to pitch at the Final Award Ceremony?

Yes, each project has to pitch at the Final Award Ceremony. We know public speaking can be (very) intimidating, but this is part of your growing journey as a Changemaker. You will get our full support to prepare! Try, challenge yourself and you will see how good it feels ! 🙂

What is the application video?

We want to see more than a paper-based application to learn a bit more about you in a 1 minute video

Use this opportunity to tell us in a creative way who you are and why you should be part of this program. Get creative !

Contact

Should you have any question, do not hesitate to reach out!


Marius Aeberli


[email protected]


Access map

Sponsors

The Changemakers program awards several prizes to the most promising projects at the end of the journey. These awards are kindly sponsored by Logitech and Credit Suisse.