OILab, a new kind of creative environment where students with varied skillsets solve problems presented by industry partners
OILab director Margi Moore will further develop its innovation activities over the next few years as a problem-solving project
“We decided to start small to test our approaches, gain confidence and learn by doing,” she says.
Industry partners George Sante and Russell Morphin from rightware solutions challenged the students to come up with low-cost solutions to enable the remote monitoring of water supply networks. Paul says the experience was rewarding for the students, who put forward many smart solutions.
major challenges of the next decade
Promoting green engineering to improve sustainability and reduce the carbon footprint in manufacturing
Identifying viable alternative energy sources
Rethinking how the city looks and works
Safeguarding our personal data and wealth from cyberattacks.
Addressing climate change through engineering innovation.
Feeding our growing population through cutting-edge bio-engineering and agricultural innovations.
Improving our health and well-being through life sciences, nanotechnology & bio-engineering.
students to identify a significant problem or challenge in their lives for which they can design a solution.
Unfortunately, innovation is highly misunderstood word. In Google search, innovation shows up as lightbulbs, with spark in them.Commonly, innovation is perceived as the creative spark in the mind of genius—giving the impression that only genius innovates .with spark in them.C
It’s also perceived as just a different way of doing thing.Here, I will address innovation from the perspective of taking an idea to market to generate profitable revenue.
From this perspective, innovation can take three major distinct forms:
1. Innovating new product,
2. Improving existing products, and
3. Improving the processes to make products.
The journey of taking a new product, usually around a new technology core, begins with a loss making revenue. Initially, the product shows up in a bit primitive from, and the cost is also high.
Turning this natural tendency of loss making revenue is a challenge.The journey then gets upgraded to continuously improving the underlyingtechnologies, adding new features, and also improving the existing ones.
The process of producing the product also become the subject of improvement. Objective of these improvements are basically to keep improving thequality and reducing the cost of subsequent versions, for turning the loss making revenue into profit.
Unfortunately, many innovation journeys fail in turning the loss making revenue to profit.
This has been the root cause of high start-up failure. Despite the great idea and charismatic leadership, Tesla has beenstruggling to reach profit, in taking the electric vehicle idea to market.
Once the innovative product starts showing the indication of making profit, followers show up. To counter this imitation force, the product is to be kept improving at a faster rate than followers can imitate.
Some of the imitators also graduate as innovators—succeeding in bringing better version. For example, Samsung entered the smartphone industry as imitator, but graduated as an innovator.
Dealing with this competition force is a serious challenge in succeeding with innovation.With the success of generating profitable revenue, innovation faces the challenge of substitution, with the threat of disruption.
To counter it, often the option is to switch the technology core. But when to switch becomes a question. Nokia’s failureto make such a switch led to catastrophic disasters. To succeed in innovation, it’s more than having creative ideas.
Here are some basic principles in articulating the journey of innovation in taking ideas to market at profit.
When you are faced with a challenging problem it is easy to throw your hands in the air and say it is all too hard, but here are some tips (not in any particular order) that might help you develop a problem solving mindset.
Work with others
Extra brains mean extra ideas. When we work with others we can discuss our ideas, understanding and challenges and gain the perspectives of other people.
‘Play with’ the problem
This means looking at the problem from different perspectives and considering lots of ideas, even if they seem ridiculous at first. This type of flexible thinking allows multiple solutions or ideas to be considered and can lead to innovative solutions.
Break the problem into smaller parts.
Sometimes a problem can seem overwhelming, so breaking it into smaller parts allows you to find a starting point and focus on one thing at a time. If you are working in a group, you might even be able to allocate parts to different people.
Don’t focus on getting the one ‘right answer’.
A problem may not have one ‘right’ answer. In fact there may be lots of solutions, so it is important to think about the process and not just the outcome.
Take your time to Analyse Problem
Unless it is an emergency, you should take your time when solving problems. Make sure that you really understand the problem before you jump right in to solve it. Check what resources you can use and maybe start to brainstorm some ideas (making notes can help) before you get started.
Be prepared to fail
Failure is not necessarily a bad thing. Often, we learn more when we fail at something than when we succeed. If one approach doesn’t work, think about why and then try something else. Persistence and reflection is key. Some very famous problems have been solved after many years of hard work and trial and error.
Here are some reasons which makes participating in Hackathons important:
1. Helps you think of creative solutions
Solve a real problem in limited amount of time, the constraint of time helps you think of creative solutions , though whatever your profile is. You can be a software engineer, a designer, a marketing person, a finance person etc.
2. Readily meet CEO, CTO of the different companies
You get awesome networking opportunities, readily meet CEO, CTO of the different companies. Making friends from different industries helps you in long run.
3. Get validation on ideas
You can get validation on ideas that comes up to you from variety of people (if you have plan to ever become a entrepreneur )
4. Hackathons make Profile stronger
By winning hackathons you profile becomes stronger. I bet you will get interview calls from big companies if you cross some number of hackathon wins.
5. Hackathons gives experience
By participating you get experience which is worth when you try to solve something in your work / personal projects or next hackathon.
6. Get informed about current market trends
You get informed about current market trends, openly available kickass api’s which makes it easy to think of new ideas.
7. Great Rewards by Hackathons
Good prize money . It ranges from 20K to 30L and more. Some international travelling opportunities as well