IMD and ECAL/University of Art and Design Lausanne, one of the world’s top design schools, will develop a new design-oriented executive education program as part of an expanded partnership which positions both institutions for the interdisciplinary evolution of business and design in a rapidly-changing world.

The Vaud-based schools, which already work together on a range of activities such as IMD’s flagship OWP program, MBA Innovation Week and Foundations of Business program, have also committed to explore ways in which innovation and practice in their respective fields could trigger further collaboration and shared projects.

“As collaboration becomes increasingly important in addressing the opportunities and complex challenges of our time, IMD is pleased to expand its partnership with ECAL,” said IMD President Jean-François Manzoni. “There is much that IMD’s faculty, students and corporate partners can learn from the world of design, and vice versa. We look forward to sharing our expertise in areas such as innovation, entrepreneurship and leadership, while ECAL’s creative faculty will offer our participants a diversity of perspectives and methods that can transform the way they work and lead.”

Alexis Georgacopoulos, ECAL’s Director said: “Our objective has always been to build, for both the IMD and ECAL communities, an exchange platform where the creative, entrepreneurial and innovative minds of tomorrow can meet and start collaborating. The expansion of our partnership, with the creation of a new program, is a major step in that direction and a fantastic opportunity to showcase the key role that design plays in business and society."

Under the IMD-ECAL Memorandum of Understanding, the enhanced collaboration focuses on seven areas, building on a partnership first formalised in 2018:

Common executive program

ECAL and IMD will launch a multi-day common executive program within IMD’s open programs portfolio, exploring the integration of design and its multiple facets within the business world. Targeted at individuals and teams in mid-to-senior level management, the course will equip executives to leverage the power of design within their teams and organizations.

Foundations of Business program

The partnership will continue to facilitate a three-day program delivered by IMD faculty to ECAL design Masters’ students covering essential business concepts to prepare designers for professional life, from freelancing to launching a start-up or working in-house for an established brand.

Coaching sessions

A member of IMD’s faculty will provide personal coaching sessions to selected ECAL graduates of the Foundations of Business course to offer guidance on business projects as well as the ins and outs of starting a company.

MBA Innovation Week – Challenge

Over the last three years, selected ECAL MA design students have joined IMD MBA students for its MBA Innovation Week to work together on an innovation challenge for real-world projects set by external partners, including generating ideas, gathering insights, prototyping and pitching. For example, in 2019, the students participated in the custom-made UEFA Innovation Challenge

Orchestrating Winning Performance

ECAL and IMD will co-create a theme for one of the streams of IMD’s flagship, three-day program, focusing on the intersection of the worlds of business and design. This will include guest speakers and workshop leaders as part of the dedicated ECALxIMD OWP stream. In 2020, the session was titled “Create a working space: strategies to activate collaboration and innovation in organizations".

Information exchange and network enhancement

The two institutions will work together to define and explore areas of mutual benefit and opportunity, from knowledge exchange to career development and conferences.

Future opportunities and exchange of services

The two institutions will continue to explore areas of future collaboration. This could include ECAL studio visit packages as well as participation of design experts in selected IMD programs.

The partnership is coordinated by IMD Professors of Innovation and Strategy Cyril Bouquet and Mark Greeven, with support from other faculty on areas such as retail, innovation, marketing, sustainability, strategy and entrepreneurship. On ECAL’s side, the collaboration is overseen by the school’s Head of Strategic Partnerships Cécile Vulliemin and the Heads of Departments, notably Nicolas Le Moigne for the MAS in Design for Luxury and Craftsmanship and Camille Blin for the MA in Product Design.