U.lab/CIM partnership explores the hand-held revolution

Patrick Crooks of CIM with UTS students at the u.lab. Picture by Jochen Schweitz

Imagine booking a hotel room over the web, and getting the door key electronically sent to your mobile phone as you arrive – no frustrating queuing or check in after a long trip. You get to your room, tap the phone on a panel and the air-conditioning and TV channels change to your preferences, and WIFI is automatically set up for your devices.

These are the industry transformations being explored and envisioned by UTS’s u.lab, through its partnership with Commerce in Motion, Australia’s first near field communications (NFC)-only incubator. Together, they aim to explore how near field communications can revolutionise industries such as health care, aged living, entertainment and retail.

u.lab is an emerging platform for innovation projects at UTS drawing on academic expertise from business, engineering, architecture, design and IT, using human-centred and design-led innovation methodologies. This semester graduate students are exploring commercially viable opportunities in an NFC enabled world. Commerce in Motion is providing sponsorship and technology expertise through the ongoing mentorship of founders Patrick Crooks and Mark Jones.

Mark Jones and Patrick Crooks of CIM at the u.lab. Picture by Jochen Schweitzer

Mark Jones and Patrick Crooks of Commerce in Motion at the u.lab. Picture by Jochen Schweitzer

Co-founder of UTS’s u.lab and Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Engineering and IT, Dr Wayne Brookes, said, “The ability to tackle real-world problems with a new technology has elevated the program to a new level. Commerce in Motion is leading in the NFC field and their mentorship is invaluable. In turn, u.lab students can help them identify and commercialise potential applications of NFC.”

That’s not as easy as it sounds. Jones highlights one of the main challenges of emerging technologies: “NFC is the type of technology where ideas are like bellybuttons – everybody has one. The bridge between a frivolous idea and a great business is in the design of an elegant solution that meets specific needs. We aim at bridging that gap by combining our experience with u.lab methodologies.”

Brookes agrees that today’s leading technology companies are those who put as much emphasis on the user experience as they focus on building great technologies. “The best technologies are those that customers don’t even know that they are interacting with, and a human-centred approach utilising NFC as an enabler ensures this level of user experience can be achieved,” he said.

Apart from the learning outcomes for UTS students, the partnership hopes to yield further results, including the development of a NFC Futures design approach.

Today (31 October) student teams are revealing their proposals to the public at LauchPad, the bi-annual ideas pitching event at u.lab. The organisers hope that for some of the students this may be the seed for a successful start-up.

Commerce in Motion has demonstrated a deep commitment to NFC innovation through the growth of its own entrepreneurial portfolio, involvement in the Fishburner’s start-up community and the hosting and sponsoring of events such as Australia’s first NFC Hackathon and the u.lab NFC Futures program. Commerce in Motion also hosts a monthly NFC Developers Group Meetup and is publishing two guides on the use of NFC technology.

With the help of innovative companies, NFC can become a growth industry in Australia. “NFC is widely predicted to become a multi-billion dollar industry, responsible for over US $1trillion trade in the next five years,” Jones said.

“Australia is fertile ground with high smart-phone penetration and the wide prevalence of NFC enabled merchant terminals. We encourage industry leaders to participate in the NFC Futures initiative with us so that more Australian businesses can benefit from the transformation that is occurring.”

via newsroom.uts.edu.au


Off the beaten track | UTS News Room

 Nathan Wiltshire and Baptiste Bachellerie standing on Redfern street

Nathan Wiltshire and Baptiste Bachellerie know the importance of getting off the beaten track when travelling. The business partners are putting what they learned during their UTS masters degrees into practice with the creation of South of the Border – a new enterprise adding meaning to the way visitors experience Sydney.

Sydney Opera House, Uluru, the Great Barrier Reef; it’s iconic offerings like these that drew 5.9 million tourists to Australia in 2011. However, many, say Nathan Wiltshire and Baptiste Bachellerie, prefer to get under the skin of a city and into its communities, to find its pulse. 

It’s this iterative, human-centred approach that Wiltshire (a Bachelor of Management in Tourism and MBA graduate), and former classmate Bachellerie, are building on as part of South of the Border’s mission to create a more holistic model of tourism. With help from Core Member of UTS’s Cosmopolitan Civil Societies research centre Simon Darcy, the pair is researching what people really want to uncover about the local environment.

“It’s about learning the types of experiences visitors to cities really want and developing empathy to uncover these insights,” says Wiltshire. “We’ve found they cherish interactions with locals as a means of better understanding community culture, and after experiencing a way of life beyond the tourism precincts, they come away with so much more.”

Paris-native Bachellerie agrees: “I’m a regular traveller and I’ve always looked for more alternative experiences to the mass tourism on offer. I’m always searching out information from locals when I visit a new place, and in some cities it’s easier than in others.”

South of the Border is using design thinking and its human-centered approach to explore the concept of ‘shared value’ – creating activities that are mutually beneficial for tourists and locals. Last month they launched a pilot project in Redfern, where small groups of tourists interact with grassroots community initiatives and are guided by local individuals who share their own enriching stories of the area.

The project aims to give visitors an understanding of Sydney’s urban culture and its history, while economically supporting community work and making personal stories a matter of local pride. The South of the Border website, which is still being prototyped, aims to enable the wider community to get involved by adding their own stories online.

“South of the Border is an example of innovative entrepreneurship based on cross discipline cosmopolitan research that values local communities,” says Darcy. “It seeks to include them as part of a co-creation process where they’re not only valued, but economically rewarded for their involvement.”

Bachellerie believes tourism is the ideal vehicle for creating shared value in communities. “The way Sydney has been built over the years, with the different waves of immigration, means many of the city’s suburbs have a distinct history and taste. 

“Redfern, Cronulla, Parramatta – they all have a strong identity but they’re surrounded by stereotypes that aren’t necessarily true of the suburb. We want people to discover what the local people of these suburbs do, what projects the community is championing and the vision they have for their future.

“Sydney Harbour and Bondi Beach are wonderful to visit, but there are a large number of visitors who seek deeper meaning in their travels. So that’s where we want to facilitate nourishing connections between visitors and local community heroes.” 

Bachellerie and Wiltshire, who grew up in Sydney’s south, chose Redfern as the pilot suburb because “we’ve both lived in the area and know it’s a diverse suburb really rich in history and culture, yet it’s often misunderstood by people who don’t know any better. We really believe our concept has great potential to dispel misconceptions and break down those barriers and stereotypes,” says Wiltshire.

South of the Border also aims to change the traditional tourism distribution chain. “Inbound tour operators, a tour wholesaler, a retail travel agent, maybe even the concierge at a hotel – each of these are taking a percentage of the value you’re creating,” says Wiltshire.

“By leveraging the internet and building an online platform people can interact with, I think we can cut out all the middle men and use those extra funds to support the core of our social activities.”

Bachellerie agrees: “The companies we see on the tourism market these days are small family-operated and owned businesses who generally have very interesting stories to tell, but they find it difficult to grasp the international market.

“Or there are the big industry players who have access to any kind of market they wish to target, but may miss the more personal stories.

“I think we sit in between those two: we’re leveraging the distribution tools the big players use but with the more human-centred approach used by small business.”

Wiltshire adds, “Rather than using the traditional model of business where you have an idea and make a finished product before launching it to the market, we want to involve the community and potential users of our service the whole way along.”

Wiltshire and Bachellerie believe their masters studies at UTS have been instrumental in the development of this innovative tourism business model.

“In tourism there are so many stakeholders that need to be engaged if we’re going to manage to do anything,” says Bachellerie. “One strength of South of the Border is the team. There is now a family of 10 of us from many different nationalities and different streams of study at UTS. But we’re all brought together by this passion for travel and a desire to scratch the surface.”

Wiltshire is also using his experience with UTS’s international leadership program BUiLD to get the new enterprise off the ground.

“BUiLD helped me focus on a more sustainable model of business, something that’s connected with community and social outcomes. That’s how I came across this idea of shared value.

“We see tourism as the ideal industry to champion sustainability on a global scale, and this idea of shared value is really intertwining business and the planet; it’s a mutually beneficial way to move forward long term.”

To get involved in the South of the Border pilot, visit facebook.com/SouthoftheBorderTours or visit www.gosouthoftheborder.co.

via newsroom.uts.edu.au


APPLICATIONS NOW OPEN: Entrepreneurship Lab SPRING Semester 2012

Ever wanted to be an entrepreneur? 
Or maybe you already are? Do you want to better understand the creative processes that drive innovation? Take your ideas and turn them into prototypes? Work with people who think differently than you? Explore and enhance your own creativity? Change the world?

• The Entrepreneurship Lab is 
an interdisciplinary design thinking subject within which students leverage their own discipline knowledge to innovate new approaches for solving components of a big picture problem. Students work collaboratively in mixed teams to apply skills of Design Thinking and Creative Enterprise to develop solutions that catalyse social purpose into the real world of business.
The subject establishes interdisciplinary entrepreneurial collaboration through participation between the faculties of DAB, Business, and FEIT and cooperation with local entrepreneurs and design thinkers, who form part of an embedded mentoring program set up to support the entrepreneurial proposals.

• Applications CLOSE: FRIDAY 10AM 27th july 2012
each student will be enrolled in a subject number within their own degree.
Please direct any inquiries to apply@ulab.org.au


Blog Rankings: Bringing the public into the design space | Campus Review

U.lab is a physical space with an online presence that showcases its work as a creative powerhouse at the University of Technology, Sydney. The brainchild of Dr Jochen Schweitzer, a senior lecturer at the business school, u.lab gets students to take a different approach to their work.


“It’s a studio where we do creative, innovative work with students from across the university – students from engineering, IT, architecture, business, design,” said Schweitzer, who is also a teacher of design thinking at the Hasso Plattner Institute at Potsdam University – which was one of the inspirations for u.lab.

 “[It’s a space where] academics try to connect with students across disciplines, working by using a method called ‘design thinking’. Basically it’s a way of solving problems. The idea is that the way design or creative professionals approach problems is slightly different to what you would see in a business context.”

Several programs are run out of u.lab, all encouraging cross-disciplinary collaboration between students and with the public. The Entrepreneurship Lab is a semester-long masters-level course where students work on a brief, with the aim of turning it into a functioning business proposition by the end of semester.

“They have to pitch that business to a panel of investors, and basically the idea for us here is to give the students the confidence in one semester to come up with a business proposition that might be good enough to continue on with after they finish university,” said Schweitzer. “Our first course ran in second semester last year, two of those groups are continuing to work together and have started their own business.”

The blog (https://ulab.org.au/ ) is used to reach out and engage with the public – an important part of u.lab’s work. “One of the things that we do in u.lab is we design, create and collaborate, not just across disciplines but also with the public, and it’s important because to come up with creative solutions that work you have to engage with whoever that solution is meant to work for, the end user.”

That engagement is personified in BikeTank, a weekly intensive brainstorming session looking at ways to improve city living. “We needed a mechanism for the students to get feedback from the public or those specific groups they were targeting, so we invited the public to come into our warehouse,” said Schweitzer. 

“We tapped into the cycling community in Sydney, asking them how cycling works or doesn’t work in the city, and we tapped into a really willing community. We had 60 people visit us to give students feedback on their ideas and to play with their ideas. It was all done in a very quick, fast-paced one-hour session, it was quite energizing.”

It is an experience students want to repeat as well. The Catalysts program encourages graduates to come back, interact with current students and help out around u.lab. “We want to create this culture of collaborative creativity and spread that across the university, including staff and students,” said Schweitzer.

U.lab’s current project is Groundbreaker (http://www.groundbreaker.org.au/), a series of debates on design and innovation running in Surry Hills, Sydney, until August 17. 


The Founder Institute: Helping Founders to Build Great Companies // Sydney 2012 Applications Close 26 Feb

via fi.co
New Founder Application
Sydney 2012
The Founder Institute is the World’s Largest Idea-Stage Incubator. In fact, over 500 technology founders have already launched companies with the help of our company-building curriculum, expert feedback, and peer support. Are you next?

Who Should Apply?
Anybody who is passionate about building a technology company is welcome to apply: idea or no idea, full-time job or unemployed, young or old, male or female, experienced in business or straight out of school. We also support a wide range of technology industries: including digital media, software, biotech, cleantech, ecommerce, advertising, consumer electronics, and more.

What to Expect?
The Final Application Deadline for the Sydney 2012 Semester is Sunday, February 26, 2012. All applications are reviewed on a rolling basis, so the sooner you apply, the better your chances to get accepted and the sooner you will hear our decision. After completing the application below, you will be invited to take our Predictive Admissions Test, which is our main criteria for evaluating applicants. The test takes about 45 minutes, and you will have a few days to complete it. Developed by leading social scientists in conjunction with the Founder Institute, this test is continually calibrated to identify entrepreneurial personality traits. All applicants are asked to contribute a $50 USD fee to help cover the administration costs of the Predictive Admissions Test. Applications are reviewed as soon as they are received and by no later than on Sunday, February 26, 2012, and you will hear from the Institute no later than Monday, March 05, 2012. There is no obligation.


UTS students pitch their model for sustainable urban tourism via UTS News Room


You can be pretty sure glossy brochures of Sydney’s tourist highlights don’t include Redfern, but that’s a missed opportunity according to two UTS MBA students pitching the potential of the inner-city suburb this week in Singapore.

With its long and checkered history, Redfern has been the case study for Nathan Wiltshire and Baptiste Bachellerie in their model for community-driven urban tourism called South of the Border.

The concept was selected for a two-day “boot camp” incubator for social entrepreneurs as part of Social Business Week in Singapore, organised by Grameen Creative Lab in conjunction with the National University of Singapore.

The UTS students have the chance to put their ideas to Nobel Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus, who coined the term social business to describe any business created to solve social problems.

“South of the Border is an innovative concept in tourism that incorporates social benefits to local communities while providing tourists with a deeper insight into local culture, history and lifestyle,” Nathan said.

“Most visitors to the city will think of Sydney Harbour or Bondi Beach, and rightly so. Although just three kilometres away, Redfern is well off the tourist trail. With a history of political and cultural flash points, Redfern has duly earned an abrasive reputation. Yet once you look beneath the surface, the area is rich in history and vibrant in culture.

“The revitalisation of the former Eveleigh railway workshops area in recent years is a case in point – Carriageworks has become a new home for contemporary arts in Sydney.

“South of the Border hopes to share this identity to foster cultural understanding. Small group tours of authentic urban precincts, guided by a highly trained local, open the door to quintessential local life through powerful story and cross-cultural human interactions. Such a business will employ locals from disadvantaged groups, while funding sustainable projects to strengthen these communities.”

Nathan said the social business boot camp was the chance for him and Baptiste to test their ideas with experienced mentors. Six teams will be selected to make final presentations to a panel of social entrepreneurs and social venture investors including Professor Yunus.