Challenges and opportunities for university-business co-creation: comparative perspectives from the UK and US

Organised by the Centre for Innovation Management Research, this panel event explored how universities and businesses can build mutually beneficial partnerships from an international perspective.

On Wednesday 19 February, Birkbeck’s Centre for Innovation Management Research was proud to welcome academics and consultants alike to a guest seminar led by Professor Helen Lawton Smith and chaired by Dr Renos Savva.

The title of the discussion was Challenges and Opportunities for University-Business Co-Creation, with Adrian Day, Dr Federica Rossi, Professor Tomasz Mroczkowski and Evelyn Wilson each bringing their individual expertise to the panel.

Throughout this fascinating event, each panellist outlined their view of the ever-changing relationship between universities and private enterprise. With a focus on international perspectives; from Japan to Sweden, the US and the UK, attendees were encouraged to outline their experience of joint ventures. Moreover, in discussing the dichotomy between government policy and evolving attitudes towards innovation, the role of today’s universities was brought into the debate.

In looking to the future, this event sought to compare the varying attitudes towards university-business co-creation, with an aim to building new and sustainable partnerships throughout the academic and entrepreneurial spheres.

Thank you to everyone who attended and made this event such a success!

  • Dr Renos Savva, a Senior Lecturer in Biological Sciences at Birkbeck, and co-founder of the Birkbeck-UCL-ICR start-up, Domainex Ltd., which is now an established biotech sector SME based in the Cambridge area.
  • Adrian Day has spent over 15 years working at the interface between academia and the economy, covering all aspects from design of data systems to providing direct advice to the Minister for Universities.
  • Dr Federica Rossi is Senior Lecturer in Business Economics at Birkbeck.
  • Dr Tomasz Mroczkowski, American University, has studied and written about innovation, the management of change, and economic transition for most of his career.
  • Evelyn Wilson is a Founder/Director of The Culture Capital Exchange, established in 2011 and was Senior Manager at its previous iteration London Centre for Arts and Cultural Exchange.

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London students envision a greener future with Creative Hack

The two-day hackathon supported students to develop smart business ideas to make London a cleaner and greener city.

In January, university students from across London came together to take part in Creative Hack, a two-day ‘hackathon’ run in collaboration with the London College of Fashion, Birkbeck, London South Bank University, Loughborough London University, University of East London, University College London and Washington University in St Lewis.

The hackathon is an opportunity for entrepreneurial students to network and build cross-institutional collaborations, whilst generating ideas that they may go on to submit in the annual Mayor’s Entrepreneur Competition.

There’s no shortage of inspirational initiatives taking place in the capital: from harnessing the steps of passers-by to generate electricity to making swim shorts from plastic waste found in the Thames, entrepreneurs play a key role in making London a greener place to live and work.

The Mayor’s Entrepreneur Competition aims to continue this tradition of innovation by supporting students in London to step up to the challenge of building a truly sustainable city, offering prizes for business ideas to make London cleaner and greener.

In Creative Hack, 17 teams of students and graduates across the different universities had two days to generate ideas to solve some of the biggest environmental challenges facing London today. Teams could choose from four main themes: Environment, Smart Cities, Creative Industries or Health.

Supported by experienced entrepreneurs and experts in design, pitching and team management, teams were guided through the ‘hacking’ process, from ideation through to pitching.

The two-day hackathon culminated with teams pitching their ideas to a panel of expert judges, with the winners decided through an audience vote. The winning team, Erive, pitched an innovative alternative to power charging stations, receiving £2,500 and dedicated application support for the Mayor’s Entrepreneur Competition in recognition of their innovative success.

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Student Circus and Tier 4 Employment

In November, Birkbeck Futures delivered two workshops for international students to set them up for career success.

November proved to be an informative month for Birkbeck’s international students, with Birkbeck Futures offering two key employment events.

Birkbeck Futures is a one-stop service that combines the Careers Service, Enterprise Pathways and Birkbeck Talent to support our students and graduates in their future lives.

On the 5 November, Jenna Davies spoke to a bustling audience about Birkbeck’s Student Circus initiative.

Presenting an insightful and inspiring workshop detailing the British job market, Birkbeck Futures encouraged all international students to explore entrepreneurship. Among other topics, this workshop presented students with an overview of the employment environment in the UK as well as tips and tricks for Tier 4 students looking to a begin their professional careers.

Following the Student Circus event, Lucy Robinson then led a session on Tuesday 19 November which outlined employability for Birkbeck’s Tier 4 students.

In her role as head of the Enterprise Pathways scheme, Lucy shared her insight into student employability and the many ways in which work can support students’ evening studies at Birkbeck, from meeting new people to getting a foot in the door of your future career.

Alongside work, she reminded students of the many extracurricular opportunities at Birkbeck, both in their Departments and delivered by the Students’ Union.

Lucy advised students to plan ahead and work out how many hours they can commit to work and other activities in order to get the most out of their time at university.

By seeking to enhance students’ entrepreneurial skills and to help develop business ideas, Enterprise Pathways provides bespoke support for those looking at starting a business.

For further information about the Student Circus initiative, and all other divisions of Birkbeck Futures, please visit the Birkbeck Futures website.

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Hacking environmental challenges

Birkbeck students hack their way to the top prize at Creative Hackathon hosted by six London Universities.

On Friday 25 January 2019, 70 students across six London universities kicked off a Creative Hackathon to develop innovative ideas to do something amazing and tackle some of the big environmental challenges facing London.

Among the group were 15 Birkbeck students who teamed up with their peers at University of the Arts London, University of East London, Loughborough University London, London South Bank University and UCL to form a range of teams who all pitched their ideas to a judging panel at the end of the hack on Saturday 26 January.

The event was organised by the six universities to inspire students to enter this year’s Mayor’s Entrepreneur competition, which has introduced a Creative sector category for the first time. Hosted at Loughborough University London’s campus at Here East in the Olympic Park, students heard from various speakers throughout the event including Omer El Fakir, Founding Partner at Blocks Wearables and previous competition runner up. Ryan Robinson, Co-Founder of Aeropowder joined the line up of speakers to inspire the teams while they also took part in a pitching masterclass and ideation session.

11 teams pitched their ideas to the judges with the winners, Team Cre8, taking the top prize for their sustainable start-up proposal and leaving with £2,000. Birkbeck students Sharmarke Gabayre, BSc Information Systems and Management, and Silvana Tavano, MA Digital Media Management, are part of Team Crea8 and are looking forward to entering their business idea into the Mayor’s Entrepreneur Competition next month with their teammates.

Students were able to build networks with like-minded people who are keen to make a difference, by fostering new collaborations to continue working on their innovative ideas.

Applications for the Mayor’s Entrepreneur competition close on the 17 February with finalists pitching to a judging panel in City Hall later in the year.

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