‘Bringing together the region’s innovators, entrepreneurs and investors’
Venturefest North West brings together the region’s innovators, entrepreneurs and investors. It’s an ideal opportunity to connect with people from around the region, find growth opportunities and be inspired. The event is a mix of speakers, workshops, exhibitors and networking opportunities.
At the centre of the event is the Innovation Showcase Competition. The competition is the perfect opportunity for North West businesses to promote their latest products, services and innovations to an audience of potential customers, partners and funders. There are four categories – Product Innovation, Service Innovation, Digital Innovation, and Innovative Established Business. Shortlisted businesses will present at the event. Winners will receive business support packages worth thousands of pounds.
“Creativity will increasingly be the defining human talent”
I have read a few articles recently on the importance of creativity for the future of the economy and workforce and how we need to design an education that fits future needs.
With increasing levels of mechanisation associated with advances in technology, a number of jobs are at risk of automation, even jobs such as coding will likely soon be quicker done by machines. As a result, greater emphasis is being placed on developing creativity within today’s children as this is something which machines won’t be able to do. So, whilst we should embrace and take advantage of the incredible capabilities of technology, we should also be working to strengthen our uniquely human qualities.
Two articles which discuss this topic in more depth include:
The UK Social Enterprise Awards recognise organisations for their business excellence and contribution to society, as well as the achievements of people working at the heart of the sector. There are a range of categories including some which investors, corporates, public sector bodies and charities can also apply for.
Commercial Awareness for Knowledge Exchange Sessions
Gerasimos Balis, the Enterprise Team’s Design Facilitator recently collaborated with Bijan Aryana to deliver some commercial awareness workshops as part of Bijan’s Design and Business module for MA Design Management students. The sessions were successful and appeared to add great value to the student’s projects. Below is a bit more information on what was covered in the sessions and some of the feedback received.
Commercial Awareness for Designers
The first 3 hour session involved:
An introduction to Business models and tools to evaluate them
Reflection on the impact of design expertise on business
The second 3 hour session involved:
Design process models and roles designers play in a ventrue
Examples of best practice from design agencies
Workshop on articulating their own design process
Great feedback was received for both sessions from student’s who took part:
‘I like the activities which were really engaging, fun and new to me’
‘I like the interactive exercises and tools provided’
‘I like the groupwork elements because it helps our ideas flow and we get some really interesting inputs and ideas’
‘Good content, helped a lot towards our project and ensured we followed a plan to effectively accomplish the activities’
‘Loved the activities, really helpful’
‘The activity further strengthened the understanding of the design process and its adaptability’
These sessions are all part of the Enterprise Team’s wider aims to contribute to enhancing student’s commercial awareness by equipping them with some useful tools within the curriculum. This is a scheme we have named CAKE (Commercial Awareness for Knowledge Exchange). To find out more, please visit the dedicated CAKE webpage.
The Trading for Good report, commissioned by Lloyds Bank Foundation for England and Wales looks to provide a greater understanding into the impact which small and medium social enterprises are having on communities, in order to encourage more to be done to support them. The results reflect the diversity in their leadership and also the good they are doing for some of the poorest communities.
On the 31st of January 2018, 13 students from a range of disciplines and areas of study gathered in a room in the FASS building for an exciting session, led by Amanda Brooks of the Enterprise Team. Inspired by her trip to Stanford University’s d.school and the Crash-course in Design Thinking hosted by Humera Fasihuddin from the d.school last year, Amanda was excited to lead her own Design Thinking session. The aim of the session was to help students try out a human-centred design approach to problem-solving, whilst developing their 21st century skills – creativity, innovation, collaboration and communication.
Human-centred design is a creative approach to problem solving. It’s a process that starts with the people you’re designing for and ends with new solutions, tailor-made to suit their needs. It involves a five step process – the students worked through each stage to design a wallet for a member of another team.
1. Empathize. The process begins with empathy – understanding what the customer’s needs are. This was done through interviewing the customer, first on a broad level and then digging deeper to fully understand their requirements.
2. Define. This stages involves making sense of what was learnt from the interview and identifying opportunities for design. Teams identified the goals and wishes of the customer and then worked to re-frame the problem into a point-of-view statement.
3. Ideate. This stage involved many a post-it notes and free flow of ideas relating to the design of the wallet. Following the free flow of all kinds of ideas, teams sketched out a few potential solutions.
4. Prototype. This stage began by presenting initial designs to the customer for feedback. Then, armed with tinfoil, card, pipe cleaners, glue etc., the teams set about creating a prototype solution.
5. Test. Time to present the prototype to the customer and take on their feedback, has it met their needs?
Overall, the session was very well received, some of the elements people expressed that they really enjoyed included:
“Engaging with people who share similar attitudes but have different methods of approach to ideas”
To find out more about Human Centred Design, check out this short video on IDEO’s website which gives a great overview. The Enterprise Team are will be hosting more sessions like this in the future – so keep your eyes on our website, social media and newsletter!
Research from the Design Council on the role and value of design skills
The Design Council have published the executive summary for Designing a Future Economy – a report looking at the role and value of design skills to the UK economy. The research looks at the skills used in design, the link between these skills and productivity and innovation, and future demand for skills.
The results portray the high value of design to the UK economy – with design skills adding over £209 billion in GVA. The research also found that people using design skills are 47% more productive than the average UK worker.
However, the research also found evidence of an emerging skills gap. With a decline in the numbers of students choosing Design related subjects at school, the report also outlines some suggestions on what could be done to reverse the decline; ideas include incorporating design into STEM subjects and improving support for design skills within career-long learning.
The full research report will be available in January 2018, but for now, the executive summary can be accessed through the Design Council’s website: Designing a Future Economy
How do you learn? I learn through doing; a-ha..! Knowledge applied through reflection of a real life experience.
Learning to master ‘Creative Confidence’; sharing learning at Stanford d.School’s University Innovation Fellows Teaching and Learning Studio July 1997
Those ‘A-ha!’ learning moments come for me, more often than not, when I’m doing or trying something out; experimenting for myself or more crucially doing it with others.
I spoke to a university graduate and a current postgraduate student recently and they expressed a similar view. They described learning as not knowledge being poured in but in the application of new knowledge; both expressed a desire for more opportunities for active learning in the classroom, for discussion and collaboration across disciplines to share ideas and perspectives. ‘I want to know what I can do with this knowledge; my knowledge out in the world.’
We see that magical ‘aha’ moment a lot when students bring a problem or an idea to work through together in the Ideas Labs we run weekly in the Learning Zone during term time.
Working on your own idea is a motivated process of being willing to challenge your dearest held assumptions, experimenting to apply knowledge you have or new knowledge you have found, joining the dots to make sense of what’s needed to move forward and validate an idea as an opportunity. It’s about the search for desirability, feasibility and viability of a solution users want, need and will pay for; even just paying with their time; whether it’s a project, a social enterprise or a business venture of some kind.
The Teaching and Learning Studio at Stanford University is a place where educators from all disciplines experiment with new ways of engaging students using design thinking and experiential learning to solve wicked problems. The studio supports educators to develop strategies that help students develop skills and mindsets for the 21st century and I was very fortunate to be an awardee of the EEUK Richard Beresford bursary, a personal development fund for educators, which part funded a trip to the studio for the learning trip of a lifetime.
Fresh from d.School inspiration, I’m grateful for a whole new network of international colleagues to exchange ideas on shaping learning using human centred design that puts the student at the centre of the experience. So forward thinking are they at Stanford d.School, that it’s an annual thing for educators to pitch their major and minor courses to students on d.School’s ’Pitch Night’…
I want to learn to facilitate more of those ‘A-ha!’ learning moments for students who come to the Enterprise Team’s Ideas Labs sessions. It’s about creating the environment for students to ‘try on’ mindsets and behaviours; practice being curious, resourceful, imaginative, questioning norms and assumptions, observing, ideating, making connections and big leaps to confidently create new solutions; seeing failure along the way as as the stepping stone to the next experiment…and that’s a tough one for us all to ‘try on’ in our practice.
It’s about the quest to develop all students as creative problem solvers; ‘innovators’ in every discipline. This skill, rooted in creativity is needed in every shape and size of organisation to remain competitive and for employees, leaders and entrepreneurs to continue to find ways to create new value.
So what is Design Thinking and how does it relate to designing learning and facilitating learning experiences and how an it be used as a pedagogical tool?
Design thinking is a mindset. It is optimistic, collaborative, human centred and creative and it’s experimental. It’s the confidence that everyone can be part of creating a more desirable future, and the design process empowers people to take action when faced with a difficult challenge. That kind of optimism is well needed in education and in students heading out into a challenged global environment.
Design thinking is a team sport and through small design challenges we and our learners can learn the attitudes and mindsets to collaborate and create, experimenting by framing a learning through design challenge, unpacking assumptions about the challenge or problem, exploring the problem space with users, defining a point of view about the challenge.
Through optimistic and energised ideation a design team can learn to ‘turn off’ the evaluator mindset and generate ideas through divergent thinking; brainstorming, building on one another’s ideas, generating lots of ideas to create great ideas, and learning that sometimes seemingly wild ideas are the spark to something better; out of the box possibilities; solutions to wicked problems. Ideas are selected for development through voting and the design team builds to learn through improv and role play to imagine possibilities before building simple, fail fast mockups and prototypes to share with users for feedback. What works, what doesn’t..? Return to prototype… return to test… iterate…until ‘Ahah! We did it! Our solution has cracked the problem; what a feeling… ‘like something inside me changed.’
The Design Thinking Toolkit for Educators contains the process and methods of design. Developed by the global design company Ideo, (Founded by David Kelley who also founded Stanford’s d.School). The toolkit offers new ways to be intentional and collaborative when designing educational experiences, and empowers educators to create impactful student centred learning solutions, but also to integrate design thinking into problem based learning as a creative problem solving process. The process empowers students to get creative, starting by solving simple human centred challenges to prepare them for tackling seemingly insoluble challenges.
‘Educators from across the world are facing design challenges every single day, from feedback systems to daily schedules. Wherever they fall on the spectrum of scale – the challenges educators are confronted with are real, complex, and varied. And as such, they require new perspectives, new tools, and new approaches. Design Thinking is one of them.’ Ideo.com
What was woefully missing in my education, and my daughter’s after me, were those serendipidous ‘A-ha’ moments in learning, and it’s this creative, human agency, I now believe that is at the heart of our work as educators. We have a short window of opportunity to intentionally develop learners as creative problem solvers, innovators and value creators beyond their discipline; skills for living and for lifelong learning.
‘Tell me and I will forget, show me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.’
We are currently busy planning for the relaunch of our annual Lancaster University Enterprise Awards. The awards aim to recognise and celebrate the diversity of ways in which students, researchers and alumni have applied their entrepreneurial mindsets, acted as creative-problem solvers and made a genuine impact on the world around them.
The awards seek not only to celebrate the successes but also recognise the journeys and distances travelled to reach those successes -every winner should have a story to tell, which hopefully will help to inspire others to engage in similar pursuits to realise their own dreams and ambitions.
The award ceremony itself is set to take place in December and will involve a formal dinner attended by various VIPs, stakeholders and of course a number of students. The dinner will be followed by entertainment, and an opportunity to network and socialise.
But now we need your help!
We need your assistance in identifying nominees within the following categories:
Student Leader – Individuals/teams with a leadership role on behalf of a segment of the student body e.g. Society Execs, College JCRs, Departmental Reps, LUSU Offices and Student Ambassadors who have demonstrated the application of entrepreneurial behaviours to the realisation of an event, project, activity or other intervention.
KE Champion – Individuals/teams who have displayed entrepreneurial behaviours in the undertaking of a Knowledge Exchange Intervention with an external organisation. For example through a Student Consultancy Project, Placement or Internship, KTP or PG Rise project.
Impactful Researcher – Early Career Researchers who have translated, or taken active steps to translate their research into sustainable research impact, for example via a licensing agreement, spin-out or other business model.
Sustainable Venture – Individuals/teams who have successfully launched a venture that has a clearly identified ‘triple bottom line’ business model, and has demonstrated or begun to demonstrate its viability. Must be formally registered, and trading for a maximum of three years.
Organisational Innovator – Individual alumni (up to last three years) who have gone into employment in any role, industry or sector except self-employment, or as a founder member of a start-up
There will also be a ‘bright sparks’ category which will involve the submission of short video pitches for ideas – more details on this category to follow!
Further details on each of the categories and what we are looking for can be found within the nomination form. If you think there is either a team or individual (or maybe you are them!) that fits into one of the categories, please download and complete this nomination formand send it back to firstname.lastname@example.org no later than the 31st of October.