Innovation Catalyst: Innovation training for businesses

Over the last five years the Prospecting and Innovation Studio has used government funding to develop and test consultancy services for businesses derived from research produced by the Design department. During this period they have worked with a wide range of business sectors from Fashion to Engineering. We started delivering two day training courses, which developed over time into MA level Continuous Professional Development training modules. These courses have proven so successful that a new MA in Innovation Practice and been created offering full and part-time courses and individual modules to suit the needs of your organisation.

The aims and objectives of the Innovation Catalyst programmes

The aim of the programme is to allow individuals, organisations and Industry to bring an R&D project to Goldsmiths as the basis for study at M-level. The courses will support the innovation activity applying methods and processes of innovation and design, discourses of innovation, creative business, and most importantly a creative design studio. The programme itself intends to be innovative. In addition to the design specialists teaching on the programme, it also brings a range of experts from subject areas such as social science, material research, engineering, film making, psychology amongst others into the practice studio to advise on students’ innovation projects. The programme will also focus on the design department’s digital and physical prototyping facilities to allow the innovation projects to be realised. The work is not restricted to product development but will include service design, experiences and social innovation. The programme is practice based, building on the design departments’ expertise as well as calling on a wide variety of experts who can contribute to multidisciplinary innovation.

The programme aims to assist students to:

  • Engage in Design to facilitate Innovation.

  • Take a critical approach to innovation and design

  • Study and analyse the socio-cultural context in which innovation takes place.

  • Build a live innovation project that relates to a business context.

  • Engage with the discourses of Innovation and design.

  • Review methods and processes used in innovation, design and other research methodologies.

  • Synthesise expert advice from various subjects and disciplines into an innovation project.

  • The results for the programme for clients

The programme helped clients build on their activities and expertise introducing lesson learnt in recent years by the Design department and the Institute of Creative and Cultural Entrepreneurship and in running Creative Innovation projects and workshops. Individuals and organisations who have taken part in one or more programmes have been able to revaluate their person and business skills and their potential and as a result have been able to reposition their organisations, redirect their activities to capitalise of opportunities they had not been aware of before the programme.

Some of the areas of innovation pursued have been:

  • New materials research

  • New Processes

  • Developing new business models

  • New Product designed/produced

  • New market development

  • New service development

  • Research/Feasibility studies carried out to provide a case for innovation

  • Developing working relationships with other companies or institutions

  • Introducing new technologies or working practices

  • Re-branding and marketing

  • The impact for the organisation you worked with

The impact for businesses taking part in the programme has been very positive and wide ranging. Individuals have been able to use the innovation tools and process, apply some of the design theories to their organisations and practice and used the pragmatic business evaluation processes presented by ICCE to make changes to their activities to radically change their futures. There have been examples of complete business model changes, with one business moving from manufacturing activities to a service provider leveraging their excellent supplier and retailer networks. Other examples involve businesses adopting new production processes to make their manufacturing processes more efficient and others adopting new technology and social media to radically improve their communication with suppliers and the client base.

The impact for the academic

The lessons learnt from practically applying research thinking to real work situations during the Innovation Catalyst is continually adding to the design and innovation theories and research carried out at Goldsmiths. The work with businesses enables new ideas to be introduced and tested within a live but controlled environment. The benefits are wide ranging; educational programmes are constantly updated and changed to meet with new conditions, students are able to get involved with live projects as part of their study and Goldsmiths develop high quality business networks for future collaborations.

The impact for students

Student work placements are integrated as part of the programme; students are brought in to work on discrete projects to generate new knowledge or test out a theory or opportunity. The work is challenging and allows the students to test their skills and knowledge; but more importantly have the opportunity to work with a business or organisation within specific parameters and requiring delivery of agreed outcomes. They then get to see how their work is integrated in the business operational and strategic plans.

The future of the Innovation Catalyst programme

The Innovation Catalyst was very successful it has now developed into a range of offerings at MA level study. There are modules of study available through the Creative industries short courses programme for media professionals. The Design department have also launched a part and full-time MA programme in Innovation Practice which allows an organisation to send a member of their staff to develop a project within the course programme. Our substantial experience of working with industry has been built into these programmes and ensure they are fit for purpose and deliver measurable benefits.

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