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Innovation, collaboration and smart spending

The challenge

Our broad aim is to build our capability, and boost the overall performance of universities, to position Australia as the leading nation for tertiary education.

The nature of education is shifting. As a sector, we need to innovate and improve service delivery to remain competitive and relevant in a future that is approaching all too fast.

In 2017, the LH Martin Institute will be hosting the third annual Service Improvement and Innovation in Universities Conference, which is organised by the sector, for the sector.

A series of four individual challenges, one for each theme explored during the event, will be posted here on MindHive in the weeks leading up to the conference. We ask that you contribute your thoughts, experiences, wild ideas and frustrations to the discussions, in the hopes of finding some real, actionable solutions.

Themes:

1. Innovation Powered by Skills

Many times we are asked, “but what is innovation?” or “how do I innovate?” This theme challenges the way we think about innovation and what that means in different contexts within the sector, our lives and our work. Participants will explore different concepts of innovation, and learn new skills for innovation.

2. Collective Buying Power 

With budget cuts looming on the horizon, how can we as institutions improve the efficiency and effectiveness of procurement practices to gain the best value for money? This theme explores the concepts behind and methods for shared procurement within the sector and what savings can be made when we harness our collective buying power.

3. The Power of Collaboration

The nature of universities is traditionally characterised by competition, however in the context of open innovation the realistation grows that collaborating and sharing knowledge and information has a very positive impact on innovation and the effectiveness of individual organisations. So what can we learn from others? This theme will walk through how universities partner with other universities, state and local governments, and industry and community organisations.

4. Powerful Communities

What is the value of reaching out? This theme builds on the notion of collaboration to look at the broader socio-economic impact for the community when strong universities partner with local stakeholders to foster inclusiveness and build a sense of community that reaches beyond the campus borders.

These discussions will lead into and continue during the conference breakout sessions, culminating in the final panel session where a champion for each theme will put forward the recurring issues, before opening up to the collective expertise of conference delegates to discuss solutions.

True collaboration, creation and innovation can only be achieved if colleagues in the sector share their experiences, positive or negative, with each other.

We aim to publish a series of papers on each of the four challenges, detailing the discussions, the issues and the solutions to share as a resource for those in the sector.

We hope to use this challenge as a central hub for discussion, whereby contributors can understand how all four challenges fit together, as they develop, and contribute ideas more broadly on the themes.

 

Challenge Opened: 02:38 AM, Friday 11 August 2017
Challenge Closes: 02:00 AM, Saturday 14 October 2017
Time to go: Closed

 

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The context

Challenge Opened: 02:38 AM, Friday 11 August 2017
Challenge Closes: 02:00 AM, Saturday 14 October 2017
Time to go: Closed

Do you want to contribute to this challenge?

Challenge Activity

Challenge Activity

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David Bowser is now contributing to this challenge Innovation, collaboration and smart spending

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Peter Grimbeek is now contributing to this challenge Innovation, collaboration and smart spending

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Peter Grimbeek commented on the challenge Innovation, collaboration and smart spending

There is inter-university competition and experience suggests that inter-university collaboration is impeded by the university ranking based need to gain increasing amounts of research money and research kudos.

At a deeper level there is an ongoing competition between laboratories, and centres of research, with scientific discoveries kept deeply guarded secrets until able to be safeguarded via academic publication.

I'm not sure that the joys of collaboration can surmount the above until university and academic life has been arranged differently.

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Graham Wise commented on the challenge Innovation, collaboration and smart spending

Regarding the Theme: Innovation Powered by Skills.

The successful teaching of innovation is an interesting challenge. How do you make a student innovative? Is this even possible? There are a rapidly increasing numbers of business or management degrees in the USA that focus on "Innovation" or "Entrepreneurship". These degrees are perhaps responding both to a cool trend from students that desire to be the next Facefriend founder, and a strong megatrend that knowledge-based and online industries are empowering individuals to establish new enterprises with minimal start up costs.

It appears to me that eloquent responses to these market demands for Innovation training are starting to emerge, combine the teaching of innovation skills, with the teaching of basic knowledge (sciences, engineering etc). For example, Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies boasts having 6 faculty members under the heading of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, also offering joint Masters Degrees with the Yale School of Management. This cross-faculty approach goes some way to providing students with business knowledge that is necessary to start new businesses, and field-specific knowledge that is necessary to inject real intellect into new business ideas.

 

But innovation requires more than knowledge. Some would say innovation is an attitude, a personal drive to make change. Can that be taught?

I certainly hope so because I am currently the Vice President of Innovation at a new university being built in the heart of the Ecuadorian Amazon. Our remit is to equip students (largely including indigenous students from the Amazon region) to build new sustainable businesses. Our four currently degree programs are all in various areas of environmental sustainability (sciences degrees) and we have integrated the teaching of innovation and entrepreneurship as a theme within each of those degrees. Our programs rely heavily on experiential learning and project development, and this is integrated within fields of science, so that students not only receive knowledge, they gain interest and a passion for changing the sustainability trajectory of the Amazon region (or fragile environments more broadly). Our newness means that our students are yet to graduate and their future career outcomes are undetermined. However, we are not alone in developing integrated programs for innovation to inspire as well as to teach. The University of Wisconsin Milwaukee is currently embedding innovation across a number of its programs and other US universities are doing the same.

It remains to be seen, how Australian universities respond to this new trend for innovation teaching, both with regards to integrating innovation programs within existing programs in science, health, engineering etc; and with regards to using a teaching pedagogy that has the capability to inspire an innovation attitude, as well as impart innovation knowledge.

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Graham Wise commented on the challenge Innovation, collaboration and smart spending

Regarding organisational capability for community and industry engagement:

My second comment relates to the capability of Australian universities to engage in industry and community activity. Clearly the size and capability of our universities demonstrates that we have the expertise to contribute to industry/community needs. However, how do external organisations interface with universities? Where is the front door to an Australian university? Universities are typically fractured along traditional lines, with different units for commercialisation, community engagement, philanthropic giving, student industry placements. Each of those units are typically placed within a different management structure - PVC Commercialisation for CCR and Tech Transfer; PVC engagement for community; maybe PVC Alumni and Development for philanthropic giving; and PVC Academic (or faculty Deans) for student industry placements. A 2015 strategic plan of a PVC Engagement in a top 10 Australian University promoted a holistic approach to driving each of the areas listed above. However only one of those area lay within the portfolio of that PVC. How can universities take a strategic approach to engagement when their top level management structures impede engagement strategy?

MIT's solution to the challenge of strategic engagement, is their famed Industry Liaison Program (ILP) which acts as a front door for industry irrespective of the intent of engagement. Whether CCR, industry sponsored research, corporate social responsibility, or student industry placements, the ILP is a unified, informed and authoritative entry point for industry engagement with MIT. Of course industry supplicants pay some $10's of thousands of dollars to join the ILP club. Not many universities can charge industry this much just to give them the honor of talking about talking to university researchers. It helps to have 80 or so Nobel Laureates behind your name to do that.

Irrespective of MIT's preeminence, I conducted a study of triple helix engagement in in many leading universities of the North East US as an Executive Endeavour Fellow to understand how Australian universities can structure themselves to improve their capacity to engage. All universities took individual approaches to this challenge but five principles were clear for the engagement functions of successful universities:

- They had a short line of sight to the President of the university.

- They had a deep understanding of their own organisational capability having highly trained and experienced staff.

- They had the remit to work across internal organisational boundaries or divisions.

- They had industry/community experience from outside of the university sector.

- They were led by an executive office bearer who had dedicated responsibility for engagement.

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Graham Wise is now contributing to this challenge Innovation, collaboration and smart spending

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Graham Wise commented on the challenge Innovation, collaboration and smart spending

Regarding organisational motivation for community and industry engagement:

My first comment relates to nationally driven organisational incentives for universities to undertake community and industry engaged activity. It is often stated that universities have a teaching mission, a research mission and a "third mission". How many large, focused organisations actually pay attention to any third missions? Australian Government funding systems for universities are driven by teaching and research excellence - and rightly so. However this subordinates community and industry research.

In light of current funding models, community and industry engagement can in fact be viewed by universities as a liability because it distracts their organisational effort from the primary contributors to funding models - high quality research and teaching. This organisational low valuation of community and industry engagement then reaches down through faculties to negatively impact on the motivations of individual researchers. Promotion systems of universities universally recognise research performance (as publications) and teaching excellence. However industry engagement and even the impact that research has beyond its publication is often marginalized.

Evidence of this problem exists in the profiles of our university leadership. How many of our DVCs and PVCs are champions of industry-led research or community engagement? How many of our PVCs for Innovation/Tech Transfer/Commercialisation actually come from industry? If so, how many of those positions are subordinated beneath academic DVC Research portfolios.

At every level within universities, from their funding models, their management structures to their incentives for staff performance, community and industry engagement is very much a "third mission".

New solutions are not necessary because existing solutions are already being implemented around the world and to a lesser extent in Australia. However a culture change is necessary. Thankfully there are glimpses of culture change in the Australian university sector with the appearance of senior leaders who have spent time in industry, staff workload profiles that recognise consulting and contract research, and promotion systems that are starting to recognise industry and community impact.

My recent survey of senior leaders of Australian Universities, published in a report of the Office of the Chief Economist, highlights that regional universities are taking the lead in community and industry engagement, within the Australian higher education sector. The perception of regional university senior leaders is that they are less successful in attracting ARC and other Category 1 funding, therefore they structure themselves to best attract industry funding. I wonder, if industry funding was accounted for as "Category 1" within the Australian Government funding model for universities, maybe industry and community activity would be considered a category 1 priority by all universities.

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Bill Wyatte is now contributing to this challenge Innovation, collaboration and smart spending

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Bill Wyatte commented on the challenge Innovation, collaboration and smart spending

Diversity of knowledge underpins innovation- knowledge from a domain applied to the opportunities or challenges in another, releasing innovative outputs.

A business school in one university may be a global leader in ecological sustainability.  A similar school in another may blaze a new pathway into criminology through leveraging its understanding of why good people do bad things developed in the context of corporate governance.

I suggest that universities with visible, welcoming pathways between their different communities-of-knowledge will be crucibles of innovation and those that don't, will not.

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Leon Sterling is now contributing to this challenge Innovation, collaboration and smart spending

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Leon Sterling commented on the challenge Innovation, collaboration and smart spending

I am teaching a year-long software engineering project subject in a masters course at the University of Melbourne. Today I had a discussion with the students about how to incorporate innovation in the subjects. The students were not particularly supportive. It is not at all clear that incorporating innovation a good idea, at least for software engineering. Students are in large teams and need to develop and deliver a product for a customer, and the overwhelming need is practice in understanding requirements. 

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Fiona Margetts is now contributing to this challenge Innovation, collaboration and smart spending

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Samuel Symes is now contributing to this challenge Innovation, collaboration and smart spending

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James Green is now contributing to this challenge Innovation, collaboration and smart spending

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Maureen Usman is now contributing to this challenge Innovation, collaboration and smart spending

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Maureen Usman commented on the challenge Innovation, collaboration and smart spending

Inter-disciplinary hubs powered by students - whether or not ideas or pitches are successful, it is an environment in which they have trialled their ideas, dynamic thinking and innovation skills, creativity, collaboraiton and working across disciplines to solve problems.  This would be a full credit subject opted in my students, not just a random think tank, and would prepare them well for workplaces where this is fostered and done.

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Mark Cantor is now contributing to this challenge Innovation, collaboration and smart spending

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Mark Cantor commented on the challenge Innovation, collaboration and smart spending

3. The Power of Collaboration

"The nature of universities is traditionally characterised by competition," 

Does everyone agree with this statement?

Is this the view of traditional academics and chancellors? or is this the view of the current financially focused chancellors?

I thought the world of academia was already fairly collaborative. Please correct me if my opinion is misplaced.

Yet I do agree that there needs to be considerable effort in breaking down the barrier between industry and universities.

I think it can be very simply defined by breaking down the silos in which we all work and live. Simple???

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Mike Metcalfe commented on the challenge Innovation, collaboration and smart spending

I would like to see

1) the non big 8 to be privatised, to free them of govt funding which is now a small part of their income anyway, tied to increased ARC funding. 

2)the return of teaching universities with lower fees due to no research costs, and a concentration on technology/skills (as per European Unis or Polytechnics) 

3) A new University able to accredit degrees for combinations of international MOOC courses, to provide price/fees competition. 

4) the set up of a centralised examinations centre which would grade all (?) student assignments to ensure satisfactory standards (or some such). There is a conflict of interest with Unis grading their own customers/students.

5) The establishment of intermediary organisations ((like Incubator or sleep centres) able to assist industry/communities with their research needs, via phd candidates? 

Mike

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Michelle Barker is now contributing to this challenge Innovation, collaboration and smart spending

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LH Martin Institute for Tertiary Education Leadership and Management commented on the challenge Innovation, collaboration and smart spending

Some great comments discussing the commercialisation of research for innovation, and different strategies for community, industry and government buy in. Thanks to all those making contributions, really appreciated!

Thinking about the four themes outlined in the challenge; how might these great ideas and strategies translate into improving other university services? Does the process for commercialising research hold any keys to success and innovation for other areas? Or what lessons can be learned from the strategies that may not have been as effective?

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Vern Hughes is now contributing to this challenge Innovation, collaboration and smart spending

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Vern Hughes commented on the challenge Innovation, collaboration and smart spending

Kevin's two points are the critical ones for discussion. The primary functions of universities are teaching and research, not collaboration or community outreach or industrial or social innovation. Accountability and responsiveness on the first (teaching) requires funding the student, not the institution. 'Never give the money directly to Universities'. This is an elementary point in accountability to the consumer or user of services, but it is consistently ignored by every funded institution that wishes to avoid accountability or responsiveness to its customers, and ignored by every government that is in bed with its funded providers. Changing this culture is the first step towards accountability and responsiveness - everything else is just huff and puff until this is done.

The second function (research) requires a reworking of Kevin's suggestion of using citizen juries. Rather than employ this method to determine the number of student places in courses (that is best left to the market), citizen juries can be used to adjudicate on which research projects are in the public interest, and therefore which warrant public funding. An applicant for research funding would be required to present a case to a jury of citizens, selected by sortition (random selection), as to why their research is in the public interest. This would electrify the closed, incestuous world of university research.

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Kevin Cox is now contributing to this challenge Innovation, collaboration and smart spending

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Kevin Cox commented on the challenge Innovation, collaboration and smart spending

The teaching function of Universities gets overlooked in most of these discussions. The reason is that Universities get money for teaching no matter what.  Research and Commercialisation of IP are contestable.  One way to make teaching contestable is to give students funds so that they can choose which courses to take. Never give the money directly to Universities.  Students should return the money and the rent through regular taxes - not an additional tax.

The Government controls the Tertiary Places by limiting the number of students each registered institution can take in particular courses. Citizen juries decide the number of students places in each course that institutions can offer.

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Kate Crawford is now contributing to this challenge Innovation, collaboration and smart spending

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Kate Crawford commented on the challenge Innovation, collaboration and smart spending

Hello everyone I like the comments so far.

I am personally concerned that our Universities have been run down and distracted from their role as important sources of shared knowledge in society. The three that I currently am associated with each have suffered continuing cuts to staff, are increasingly automated, and so their capability to work as a community and build trust and ongoing expertise across traditional barriers (academe/industry) has been substantially reduced.. 

In addition to committed tenured staff being a minority, and lack of available funds to those staff they employ,  research and innovation projects are becoming difficult to manage structurally within administrative time frames and decision making priorities.

Automation of teaching, and poor working conditions for undergraduate teachers is also having substantial impact on the quality of student experiences.  This is particularly so in areas of rapid change such as mathematical modelling and data sharing. In these areas, private practice is far outstripping public knowledge and learning opportunities.  

I am currently working with a collaborative structure to establish a mixed group to govern projects with leading researchers, industrialists and government decision makers.  The emerging agenda seems likely to be more innovative than would be possible for any one sector alone.  A difficult issue is the traditional notion of research as done by academic experts alone.  We hope that through better collaboration the research problems can be defined more holistically and strategic research questions developed and understood by all three groups.

It seems possible that this venture will allow us to research the social cont4xts for research and engage a broader section of the community in innovative adaptations.

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Alex Spence is now contributing to this challenge Innovation, collaboration and smart spending

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Alex Spence commented on the challenge Innovation, collaboration and smart spending

Without trying to add too many buzzwords into one sentence, I also think the other consideration here is the public-private partnership perspective in a VUCA world.

Industry is learning very quickly that there is a social licence required to operate in Australia (think Adani Coal Mine and BP oil drilling in the Great Australian Bight).

In many Government and quasi-Government organisations (Universities included) there is a lack of community/social engagement to solve both industry and community problems. Additionally the performance metrics that provide a greater degree of transparency don't exist in these organisations to track delivery of projects or solutions.

CSIRO has had a complete culture change in the past 12 months, creating an organisation where research needs to be targeted to issues that can be developed and delivered to industry in Australia and globally.

While there are benefits to this approach, there also needs to be consideration of the skills required for these academics to engage with industry and communities to identify priority areas for research and projects. 

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Timothy London is now contributing to this challenge Innovation, collaboration and smart spending

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Challenge Progress

  • Impact Reported

Impact Phase

  • Online discussion, editing & synthesis
  • Panel Selected

Consultation Phase

  • Solution drafted
  • Crowd gathered
  • Context Published
  • Challenge published

Framing & Gathering Phase

Hiver

Melissa Hendicott Program Officer
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Graham Wise Vice President Innovation
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Fiona Margetts Manager (Policy Services)
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Ursula Franck
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Mike Metcalfe Consultant
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Deborah Lupton Centenary Research Professor and leader of the Smart Technology Living Lab
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Timothy London Head of Product and Design, MindHive
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Alex Spence Managing Director
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Kate Crawford Director Eviva Pty Ltd
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Kevin Cox
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Vern Hughes Director Civil Society Australia
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Michelle Barker Program Director
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Mark Cantor Retired Engineer & Health Consumer Representative
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Maureen Usman
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James Green Director, Engagement Strategy
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Samuel Symes Principal
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Leon Sterling Professor
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Bill Wyatte Integrated Criminal Justice Governance and Program Manager
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Peter Grimbeek Statistics & Methods Counsellor
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David Bowser
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Documents associated with this challenge

File name File type Date uploaded Size (KB)
Conference Brochure
.pdf
8/11/2017 488
Detailed Conference Overview.pdf
.pdf
8/11/2017 988
Preliminary Conference Agenda.pdf
.pdf
8/11/2017 586
 

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