Superteam Tournaments - Developing innovation competence for a whole vocational path


Interdisciplinary curricula and multi-disciplinary education are at the heart of the strategies by which education institutions can train future oriented innovators. Learning for innovation does not only depend on cognitive processes but also on social interactions, participation in a community and other processes leading to a contemporary understanding of cognition as distributed and learning as essentially contextualized (Lave and Wenger, 1991; Duffy, 2009).

The context of learning can be designed optimal for innovation: mixing people from different schools in the area. Learners bringing their prior knowledge to the social and “never-experienced-before” multidisciplinary learning setting, where the target is to make an innovation. This requires deep understanding on innovation conception and process to direct the action towards a novel and usable solution.

Multidisciplinary teams actively construct knowledge based on what they already know and believe (including misconceptions!), but also creatively “living” the border terrain areas of their disciplines. While bringing together people from totally different industries and disciplines, new disciplines start to emerge. Who knows what disciplines are needed in the future?

In Metropolia UAS, we have integrated a 10 ECTS Innovation project to all curricula of 16000 students. We believe, that all students have the right to learn how to innovate. Most of the innovation projects are conducted in multidisciplinary teams, MINNO® Innovation projects, as a 7 weeks full time innovation process with companies. Now we are developing the concept further: We are piloting a local area innovation ecosystem model called TeenMINNO to rapidly raise the innovation competence of young people to ensure employment and prevent vocational path drop out. In Finland, only 5 - 15 % (depending on discipline) of UAS students has secondary vocational education background. Most of the students come to UAS from high school. The national economy would benefit if the secondary vocational students would continue their studies or get permanent jobs. Even more would the national economy benefit if the graduates would be more prepared for innovation and entrepreneurship.

Local area as a vocational innovation ecosystem

In TeenMinno model, a local innovation ecosystem (see e.g. Ylikoski, Ylikoski-Oksanen and Hero 2015) is formed with local firms and their networks, students and their personal networks, educational institutions and innovation teacher pairs and their networks. Teachers negotiate with companies and other work life organizations to form open challenges for students. The local firms, secondary and higher vocational institutions and their students from different disciplines work together in multidisciplinary and multi-aged teams to develop innovations based on the open challenges. This quarantees that the innovation is optimally brought to the market place or for the benefit of the society together with the companies. It is important that the teams are as heterogeneous as possible. New ideas spring from collisions and “never-seen-before” -situations where the area of biggest risks but also the biggest opportunities is reached.

Mixing the secondary vocational and higher vocational students has several benefits. This thinking is based on the assumption that the “Teens”, i.e. the younger students aged 16-18 have more making skills and practical know-how. In the innovation process this is crucial e.g. in the prototype and go-to-market phases. The older students from UAS can have more responsibility, systems thinking, deeper content knowledge. So, the hypothesis is that these people complete each other not only in skills and knowledge, but also in orientation and independence towards work and joint action (see e.g. Rautkorpi and Hero 2016). The motivation and engagement to develop team integration and climate for innovation is expected to wake by competing against other teams. (Connelly, Tihanyi, Crook and Gangloff 2014)

Superteam Tournaments - Innovation competence for students and innovations for local firms

TeenMinno thinking springs from the realization that an innovation process is a brilliant learning environment. Firstly, internalizing the innovation process can help in later work life: Orientation towards finding problems and future opportunities, co-creation and co-ideation methods, taking creativity into use, making prototypes, testing them, taking novel solutions to the market place or for the benefit for the society or people. This type of process knowledge is important in any field of work. Secondly, innovation process as a project conducted by a multidisciplinary team can develop innovation competence both on individual and on team level. Thirdly, motivation for students comes from the authentic challenge from work life, but also from meeting people from other disciplines. We assumed that motivation and engagement will be even better, if the innovation competence development is transparent and understandable. Based on this thinking we decided to pilot Superteam Tournaments - innovation contests where students are not only competing of the best innovation, but also for best competence development of the team.

Superteam Tournaments uses hackathons (e.g. Briscoe & Mulligan, 2014) tradition as inspiration. Hackathons are short competitions, e.g. 48 hours or a weekend, where participating teams encode or otherwise develop a technical solution for an open challenge. Still, Superteam Tournament model differs from an average hackathon considerably. Superteam tournaments are piloted twice in 2017 as 7 week intensive processes. Every day 9 am to 4 pm is marked in 80 students time schedules. Students come from different disciplines, but not from engineering this time.

After orientation seminar about innovation, open challenges are given to students. In the first pilot we mixed high technologies such as virtual and augmented reality, robotics and wearable technologies to national theatre, sports equipment and wool yarn producer companies to present an unexpected open challenge for the student teams. Students could choose two different challenges and were chosen to either of them. Teams of five were formed mixing secondary and higher vocational students. Facilitated by teacher pairs, the teams participate in 5 different contest rounds: Idea, concept, prototype, testing and implementation rounds. During the rounds students develop, report, pitch, and develop further, but also test and show the competence development with different methods. The beauty of the process lies in this: Superteam tournament is fully integrated in mandatory studies and the competence based peer-assessment is integrated in the whole process.


  • Briscoe, G., & Mulligan, C. (2014). Digital innovation: The hackathon phenomenon. London: Creativeworks London Work Paper, 6.
  • Connelly, B. L., Tihanyi, L., Crook, T. R., & Gangloff, K. A. (2014). Tournament Theory. Thirty Years of Contests and Competitions. Journal of Management, 40 (1): 16-47.
  • Duffy, T.M. (2009), “Building lines of communication and a research agenda” in S. Tobias and T.M. Duffy (eds.), Constructivist Instruction: Success or Failure?, Routledge, New York, pp. 351-367).
  • Lave, J. and E. Wenger (1991), Situated Learning: Legitimate Peripheral Participation, Cambridge University Press, New York.

More information:

Laura-Maija Hero, Project manager/ TeenMINNO.

TeenMINNO is funded by ESF (European Social Fund) during 2016 - 2018.


3UAS-Professional Summer School has started and first it's time for Cambridge Venture Camp!


The Cambridge Venture Camp got 78 applicants, and 17 students were chosen to participate the camp. The camp is organized by 3UAS – Haaga-Helia, Laurea and Metropolia Universities of Applied Sciences. The program for the camp is organized by Laurea Entrepreneurship Society, LaureaES.Suvi Lehton...

Read More

Changing the world through encounters – fundraising campaign launched


Metropolia has launched its fundraising campaign. We are inviting our partners to join us in encounters that speed up renewal in society, changing the world around us. Our campaign theme is “Meaningful encounters that change the world”. These meaningful encounters will be created through...

Read More

A fresh future is taking shape


“A fresh future is taking shape, with urban areas around the world becoming not just the dominant form of habitat for humankind, but also the engine-rooms of human development as a whole” (UN Habitat 2012)
As more than 50% of us live in urban areas—a number that will increase up t...

Read More

The last EMECC students celebrated their graduation in Oviedo, Spain


One of Metropolia’s joint degrees, the Erasmus Mundus Master’s Programme in Emergency and Critical Care Nursing (EMECC) has come to an end. The students and faculty members of the consortium celebrated the graduation of the last students at the University of Oviedo on February 9th.
In a...

Read More


Circular Economy for Sustainable Growth

Haaga-Helia, Laurea and Metropolia Universities of Applied Sciences (3UAS) in cooperation with the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra are launching new study path which will focus on Circular Economy. Sitra has been selected as the winner in the Circular Awards to be a pioneer at the transition to a circular ...

Read More


The joint application for the degree programmes in English ended - thank you to all our applicants

This spring’s first joint application period for Bachelor's and Master’s Degree studies conducted in English ended on Wednesday 24.1. at 15.00 o’clock. According to provisional results, Metropolia again attracted a large number of applicants. In total, over 3500 applications were submit...

Read More


Student and Teacher teamed up for transport benchmarking survey

Transport markets are opening up for free competition in Finland. New transport policy aims at creating fair competition in passenger and freight transport. Mobility as a Service (MaaS) is being introduced. Hence, there is need to gain more information about the reporting mechanisms and indicators used i...

Read More

Displaying results ###SPAN_BEGIN###%s to %s out of ###SPAN_BEGIN###%s