A pressure cooker bursting with endless ideas and energy: an apt description of how the teams worked during Create Tomorrow. Last Wednesday the University of Twente presented the world’s largest student think tank with a case study: how can successful innovation be best organized in the future?
The University of Twente is currently considering its own future. The Shaping2030 strategic process is collating a broad-based input of ideas and opinions about the future of the university in order to define a fully up-to-date mission, vision and strategy. It seeks to identify the university’s principal raison d’etre, but is also asking respondents to think about how this central purpose can be best achieved in practice. People both within and outside the UT are being asked to think critically about opportunities, possibilities and impossibilities.
During Create Tomorrow, participants in the UT case study were given a specific issue to consider: the fact that traditional forms of organization frequently obstruct innovation. Complex rules, regulations and procedures often prevent the rapid development and introduction of new ideas. The development of new products and services demands an environment that on the one hand is safe and protected and on the other elicits people to give of their best in turning a new idea into a feasible, realistic project. This kind of environment promotes collaboration between all kinds of different parties without descending into endless rounds of meetings. The think tank’s brief: design an instrument/organization that enables rapid, successful innovation in cooperations between the university and the parties in its environment.
Several elements of a successful solution appeared in more than one proposal. One such element was concerned with the best way to employ the creativity of the entire community, for instance by instating multidisciplinary teams with a variety of backgrounds, areas of expertise and experience. But the teams also examined ways of allowing students to learn by association with innovations and projects closely connected to challenging social issues. It was also widely felt that digital and physical fora were required where issues and people could meet one another, and many inspiring ideas were suggested as to how this could be achieved.
The winning proposal
The proposal put forward by Club 9-2, made up of residents of a student house at Calslaan on campus, was finally judged the best. Their proposal, Innov8, involved consultation between many stakeholders and optimal use of such technologies as Artificial Intelligence in order to identify the most urgent problems. Parties would then be brought together, each tasked with supplying a different piece of the puzzle in order to deliver a solution.
Hetty Bennink, a jury representative of the project organization of Shaping2030 : “We’re absolutely delighted with the many excellent ideas that were put forward during the day, many of which we recognized as elements we have discussed in recent months in various sessions. The solutions put forward by all these teams – and not just the winning one! – will be of enormous help as we continue to shape the innovation strategy of the UT.”