U.lab is an interdisciplinary platform for innovation projects


At U.lab we create opportunities for design-led innovation through learning, research and industry engagement. 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 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.

Current initiatives and programs include:

  • CAPS – Climate Adapted People Shelter, a design competition to reimagine current bus shelters to be smart and adapted to increasing urban heat in Western Sydney.
  • Innovation Lab, an interdisciplinary design thinking environment where students leverage discipline knowledge and help solve big picture problems.

Previous programs include:

  • BikeTank, a series of 14 urban pop-up think tank events for entrepreneurs and cycling enthusiasts (2011-2014)
  • Groundbreaker, an eight week open innovation and collaborative creativity program in partnership with the Australian Design Centre  (2012)
  • Creative Minds, a design thinking teaching program for undergraduate students and a video case study (2011-2012)
  • CrowdShare Sydney, an open innovation program focussed on urban planning and development (2012)
  • CitySwitch, a student exchange and visiting program focussing on reimmagining urban futures (2010-2013)
  • Catalyst, a self-led student mentoring program.

U.lab’s vision is to “generate design-led innovation with human impact”. To achieve this, it provides 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, solutions and commercialisation, human elements are given priority to shape better outcomes. The u.lab 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 tools and methods for design-led, human-centred innovation and entrepreneurship that can be used in teaching, organisational innovation, product and service innovation and social change.
  • Develop and deliver transdisciplinary, cross-faculty learning programs that help create graduates with an increased capacity for creative problem solving and an understanding of innovation and enterprise processes.