Sunday, May 25, 2014

Can Universities Teach Innovation?

Next Saturday I am going along to see what "ProductCamp Sydney 2014" is about. This is an un-conference, but one for Product Management, Marketing, and Development professional, so I am not sure what that will be like (I am used to going to one with computer programmers). The organisers (or un-organisers I guess) have asked for ideas for sessions. So one I would like to put up is the questions as to Can Universities Teach Innovation?. Australian universities claim to be in the innovation business and have degree programs and courses on innovation, but can you really learn innovation from a course, or are these skills which only come through experience?

Here are some courses:
  1. University of Sydney: Graduate Certificate in Innovation and Enterprise
  2. University of Adelaide: Bachelor of Innovation and Entrepreneurship
  3. Charles Sturt University: Master of Education (Knowledge Networks and Digital Innovation)
  4. University of Queensland: Master of Technology and Innovation Management
  5. Swinburne University of Technology:
  6. Master of Entrepreneurship and Innovation
  7. University of Technology Sydney: Bachelor of Creative Intelligence and Innovation


The ACT Government and Canberra's higher education institutions run the Innovation ACT competition.

Co-working Spaces

The Entry 29 Innovation Centre. and similar across the world try to encourage new start-up businesses.  But how effective are these?

Skunkworks Projects

F-35 Lightning II
Dr Paul Bevilaqua, Chief Engineer of the Lockheed Martin "Skunk Works" talked erectly in Australia on "Inventing the Joint Strike Fighter". More generally a skunkworks project is one for a small team outside the usual corporate controls developing a radial product.

The NeXT Computer developed by by Steve Jobs might be considered a Skunkworks Project. A next computer was used by Berners-Leefor developing the World Wide Web. After Next failed as a product it was acquired by Apple and the software used as the basis of the Apple Mac operating systems for their desktop, laptop computers and iOS for iPhone and iPads.

Studio Teaching of Innovation

The best known innovation teaching technique is Bauhaus studio teaching, developed in 1920s Germany for architects. This approach is still commonly used for teaching architects and other creative disciples, but has also been used for  Teaching IT at Monash University.

Universities Can Teach Innovation

King's College Chapel at Dusk
A university can teach teach the process of innovation, using formal courses and studio based techniques. They can then provide the infrastructure around the formal programs, for those students, teacher and graduates who want to turn their innovations into products. I saw this first had in the UK  around Cambridge University. The university has a Computer Laboratory, plus formal and informal relationships with research originations and companies in the area.

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