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Innovation through Collaboration

Someone once said that true innovation is collaborative, and I’ve stated previously that innovation is often best observed in hindsight, so when the opportunity arose to help coordinate a BCS seminar about collaborative innovation (i.e. between business and academia) I was only too eager to oblige. 
 
As the title suggests, the focus of this event was to “showcase various initiatives designed to foster new collaborations between university students, researchers and industrial partners in order to unleash the full innovation potential of effective partnership working”. The speakers covered the gamut of that partnership by bringing perspectives from the world of academia and research, as well as from business and consulting, to give the audience a 360 degree peek at collaborative innovation in action.
Dave, Dean and Simon

Dave Chapman, Dean Mohammedally and Simon Elliot

Speakers, Dave Chapman and Dean Mohammedally, from the University College London (UCL) provided an inside view of the workings of IDEA London (including a tour of the facilities afterwards), as well as their innovative Computer Science & Software Engineering programmes which feature students undertaking real world projects with various sponsoring or client organisations. Simon Elliott, Head of Innovation at Worldline (an ATOS company) described how traditional enterprises are like walled gardens which benefit greatly by collaborating with universities which are like a small sprawling village or kibbutz (with flowing porous boundaries), to mutual benefit in tackling major challenges such as aging population,  mobile working etc. He also described the innovation process within his organisation and how they work in collaboration with universities such as UCL and IDEALondon.

 
The beauty of the UCL CS programme is that it provides a way for students to work with potential employers and entrepreneurs to develop real products and Proof-of-Concepts, as well as various Student Interest Group initiatives, e.g. the largest Hadoop cluster for education has been created, maintained and used by UCL students to provide services for real world business clients. The primary intention of the programme is to ensure graduates can acquire directly applicable skills and experiences for jobs in the highly competitive & selective digital business environment of today. 
 
To say I found this all very mind blowing would be an understatement. Although I’m pretty sure other universities, (e.g. Cambridge / Southampton / MIT / Stanford etc.), have similar collaborative partnerships, it was a real treat to see such an initiative closely intertwined to the unfolding evolution of London’s Tech City. I’ll definitely be back shortly to see what else they have going on at the UCL.
One cool collaboration Pod at IDEALondon

One cool collaboration Pod at IDEALondon

This event took place at the amazing venue of  IDEA London , an innovation ‘hot-house’ which was  launched in 2012 by David Cameron  and is located right at the heart of London’s Tech City . IDEA London was established by UCL, in partnership with  Cisco  and  DC Thomson, in order to offer a “unique opportunity for digital and new media companies to develop and expand with the expert help and support of 3 top world class organisations which are leaders in academic research, digital technology and media.  
 
In summary, this was another excellent event in the innovation series delivered by BCSNLB, in partnership with BCS Entrepreneurs and UCL. I can’t wait for the next event on 23rd April 2014, and I recommend anyone interested should make the effort to attend, if you are in London on that date.
 
Disclosure: In addition to coordinating the event for the BCS, the UCL (Dept. of Computer Science) is my alma mater, so you could say I have already drunk the Kool Aid, but please don’t hold that against me.
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