Board member news

The challenges of innovation

How can we harness our knowledge and expertise to create a better future? How can we deliver a system of continuous innovation across the campus that delivers lasting partnerships, generates prosperity, and builds on our impact in the Research Excellence Framework? The challenge of bringing big, bold plans to fruition, setting up a system for growth, and creating a new innovation campus were explored with colleagues at a recent Cardiff Innovation System workshop. Professor Kevin Morgan shared his expertise with us, setting out the complex ways in which universities forge links  with business, whilst noting, too, the ‘softer’ benefits of innovation, including human capital, graduate jobs, social development and reputation. He asked delegates to consider defining ‘good practice’ and to examine the barriers to better business relationships. Professor Rick Delbridge set out ways in which Cardiff must develop an ‘innovation ethos.’ Rick recently returned from a transatlantic trip to scope out how innovation is delivered across America’s leading institutions, including Harvard’s innovation lab, and Stanford’s d.school. The challenges for Cardiff span three spheres, Rick explained. First, cognitive: working out what lies ahead, accepting uncertainty, and fostering divergent thinking; second, political – building pluralistic decision-making processes, seed funding new projects and building ‘dual structures’; and finally technical, developing new technical capabilities and embracing new partner networks. Both Rick and Kevin noted ‘constructive challenge’ – considering divergent or opposing views – played an active role in shaping the world’s most successful innovative institutions. Professor Carole Tucker outlined how Cardiff Innovation System will help bridge the gap between student experience and the outside world. A sustainable model of continuous improvement would strengthen business partnerships and alumni relations, and embed an infrastructure to support ‘grass roots’ innovation, developing the next generation of ‘research stars’ and entrepreneurs who in turn support future undergraduates. In short, a great day of deliberation and debate. We’ll be feeding our thoughts into our future plans for CIS. We’d also like to hear views and feedback, however divergent or ‘constructively challenging’, so feel free to drop us a line: pvc-research@cardiff.ac.uk