UWA is full of people doing new and exciting things. The team of UWA staff responsible for delivering a new project, the UWA Innovation Quarter (UWA IQ), is no exception. The ‘Innovation’ word is one that permeates every single thing they do.
"The question of what ‘innovating’ actually means for the scientists, academics, staff and students at UWA is a big one," said Rob Shannon, UWA IQ's project manager. "Answering it is important if UWA is to reach its aspiration of being a top 50 globally ranked University by 2050."
“We’re making innovation and entrepreneurship easier for our staff, students and community,” said Rob."We're trying to bring together all of the different ‘strands’ and areas of innovation taking place across the University and come up with a strategy that will make translating research coming from the University into commercial outcomes easier and one that plugs any existing gaps.”
“We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel. Innovation, entrepreneurship and industry engagement are all things that UWA already does and does well in many areas. However there is certainly room for us to do these things better, and that’s what we are focused on," said Rob. "We're finding the gaps, mapping a way forward and kicking off with a number of smallish but really relevant projects to get us up and going. "
The first of these projects is appropriately called ‘Start Something’. It’s targeted at researchers and post-graduate students and looks to take ideas and ‘outcomes’ or results from research that might have a commercial or social impact and help ‘get something started’.
“It might be apps that they have developed, commercial services, resource kits, social enterprise innovations and/or different aspects of technology,” said Rob.
Three awareness raising events will be held across campus in late July to generate interest in the Start Something workshops. The first awareness event will be held from 1pm-2pm next Tuesday, 21 July in Arts Lecture Room 4. "If you're interested, please come along to hear about the workshops, the impact agenda and from people who have been there and done it."
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Robyn Owens said Start Something supports UWA’s mission to drive social and economic development by better socialising the University’s research by getting it out from behind closed lab doors and into the broader community.
“We’re excited to be working with Atomic Sky and Innovation Cluster to deliver this program which we hope will equip researchers with useful experience in entrepreneurship and engaging with industry, building skills to translate research and create community impact,” she said.
“UWA has a key role to play in supporting a sustainable ‘entrepreneurial ecosystem’ here in Western Australia,” added Anthony Fortina, Deputy Director of the Office of Research Enterprise. “Programs like Start Something provide opportunities for us to build and develop the entrepreneurial spirit and community within UWA, so that we are better equipped to play that role."
The second of the projects is collaborating and building the UWA student entrepreneur and innovator community through the St. Catherine’s BloomLab.
“The BloomLab is already doing great things for our student entrepreneur and innovator community with over 400 members,” said Rob. “UWA IQ’s role is to help share the collaborative spirit by bringing BloomLab events onto campus during this semester and engaging more of our students through their respective faculties.”
“BloomLab is a valuable part of the UWA innovation support network. Not only for students but also for staff as an outlet for ideas, for example – many of us have ideas for apps but wouldn’t know where to start, the BloomLab has the people with the knowhow and appetite to develop our ideas!”