Opening the doors to new ideas

September 17th, 2009  |  Published in Change


Destination Open Innovation may sound like a space shuttle mission but it was actually a unique event held at the University of Hull which aimed to encourage cross-business idea-sharing.

Run in collaboration with Castleton Consulting, the University of Hull, Yorkshire Water and the Environmental Technologies Centre of Industrial Collaboration (ETCIC) at the University, the project involved more than 75 delegates taking part in open space technology sessions designed to enable diverse groups to address complex, important and sometimes controversial topics to achieve meaningful results quickly.

L-R: Dr David Calvert ETCIC, University of Hull, Simon Barnes Head of Innovation Delivery, Yorkshire Water, Professor Calie Pistorius, Vice Chancellor, University of Hull, Jon Kendall, Castleton Consulting Management Consultant

Each delegate was able to pitch their challenge to the group, looking outside their own organisations and industries for innovative ideas which could help deliver benefits for their own business. Often, progress is limited by searching for solutions solely within a single industry while learning from different sectors can open the doors of opportunity – as head of innovation at Yorkshire Water Simon Barnes has found:

“As a company, we set ourselves stretching targets, looking for ways we can deliver a better service to our customers by reducing the number of times we interrupt their water supply or limiting disruption on the roads by cutting the number of times we dig trenches to work on water pipes or sewers. If we’d have looked solely within the water industry for the answers, we would still be in the same position we were 20 years ago.

“What I hope events like today’s prove is that working together with cross-business groups produces innovative ideas; learning from other sectors can be essential to business growth and, in the future, may deliver a faster, more cost-effective way of working.”

The event was opened by new Vice-Chancellor at the University, Professor Calie Pistorius. Welcoming delegates to the event on 14 September, Prof Pistorius said it was important for universities to be places of innovation. He also underlined the University’s commitment to working with business partners and the wider community in the region. He added: “I am delighted to welcome you to this event, and I look forward to speaking to you again in the future.”

David Calvert, ETCIC Commercial Manager said: “From looking into causes of flooding, to renewable energy and environmental testing, there are many obvious areas where the university has expertise which relates directly to water. This event provides a great opportunity to explore these areas, but also supply chain logistics, computer visualisation and technologies and strategies for a low carbon future. Working across disciplines and with industry is the way forward for innovation and I am confident that many interesting and challenging opportunities will come out of the event.”

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