We believe that innovation occurs between people, not in isolation, and how we innovate is the product of opportunistic interactions. We seek to expand the capacity of design-thinking into a truly interdisciplinary collaboration between entrepreneurial activity, corporate R&D and academic thought leadership. The projects we are tackling require cross-boundary thinking and embedded collaboration.
At U.lab people have contributed and expanded their disciplinary knowledge and expertise through six programs:
- Entrepreneurship Lab is a full semester subject in which students leverage their discipline knowledge and work in mixed teams to learn and apply skills of ‘Design Thinking’ and ‘Creative Enterprise’ to develop solutions for the real world in collaboration with industry sponsors.
- CrowdShare Sydney was first held in 2013 as a program for enthusiasts who love their city and contribute time, skills and energy towards creative actions. Actions include talk events, co-creation, flashmobs, performance gatherings, media art, guerrilla gardening, participatory graffiti, manifesto readings or any collective celebration of the city.
- GroundBreaker is a series of public innovation workshops and panel debates tied to an innovation research program. GroundBreaker aims to explore and build new tools for open innovation, collaborative innovation and crowd-share innovation. It was first held in 2012 in partnership with the Australian Design Center.
- BikeTank is an intensive one hour exploration into a defined topic hosted by emerging and leading thinkers, contributing to a bigger picture project. So far 14 BikeTanks were held in 2011, 2013 and 2014 e.g. in partnership with the City of Sydney.
- Creative Minds is a customizable workshop format in which participants tackle innovation challenges. The creative journey is facilitated using design thinking. Creative Minds is open to the public.
- CitySwitch is a student exchange program between Japan, China, Indonesia and Australia, where urban designers, architects, design thinker and artists collaborate over five days on the activation of urban spaces.
Our vision is to generate design-led innovation with human impact. To achieve this, we provide a framework and space for students, academics, industry and government experts to engage in design-led human-centered innovation practices.
Our approach draws on an understanding of human factors as the basis for innovation. It differs from traditional approaches as it infuses the end-user, wider stakeholders, and diverse collaborators into the process. In all stages of insight, ideation, concept, prototyping, solution and commercialisation, human elements are given priority to shape better outcomes. This approach is purposely open and diffuse to maximise overlap between diverse thinking and working styles to encourage collaborative innovation.
U.lab’s strategic purpose is to:
- Develop, test and disseminate new tools and methods for design-led human-centred innovation that can be used in teaching, organisational innovation, product and service innovation and social change.
- Develop and deliver transdisciplinary, cross-faculty learning programs based on u.lab practices to create graduates with an increased capacity for creative problem solving and an understanding of innovation processes.
- Conduct transdisciplinary research into how design-led human-centred tools and methods influence innovation in educational groups, organisations and public services.
- Form partnerships with SMEs, corporate and government for two-way exchange of knowledge and methods in co-creation of design-led human-centred innovation solutions through u.lab research and learning programs.