UWE adopts Newicon’s Innovation Kit (March 2021 UPDATE!)

Where it all began… Back in 2018, we had a meeting at Newicon that would go on to define the next 2 years of work for the design team. We had originally set out to write a blog post about innovation, which would be a practical guide on how to innovate from scratch and build […]

Mark Probert

Chief Strategy Officer (CSO)
·4 min read (1186 words)

[Update 2: Soon you'll be able to get your hands on a Newicon Innovation Kit! After learning that the kit was such a success at UWE and MyMaskFit, we've decided to develop the kit further into something that any business or organisation can purchase and use. With it, you'll be able to complete a one-day innovation workshop. The instructions will guide you through the entire process and by the end you'll have a fully-fledged idea of a new product or solution. The Innovation Kit is due to be released on the 6th April, so keep your eyes peeled! You can also sign up to receive updates about the kit, including free taster exercises and guides.]

[Update: Since first posting this blog back in June, we've seen phenomenal success with the Innovation Toolkit, both in UWE and with other organisations. We've heard that the kit has been used by 348 engineering students at UWE. It's helped them get to grips with the creative side of design thinking, which is fantastic to hear. 

What's more, we've also used a version of the Innovation Toolkit with MyMaskFit - a fantastic project we're a part of that looks set to transform masks for PPE. Considering that the Innovation Toolkit was originally designed to help with digital innovation, it's been amazing to see it applied to real-life engineering to positive effect. Who knows which other sectors could benefit. Watch this space!]

Where it all began…

Back in 2018, we had a meeting at Newicon that would go on to define the next 2 years of work for the design team. We had originally set out to write a blog post about innovation, which would be a practical guide on how to innovate from scratch and build new ideas, but after a failed first attempt we sat back down and had a big discussion about it. We realised we had all of the experience and know-how to share our expertise, but a blog post wouldn’t be sufficient enough to convey our message.

“What if we create a design kit to help people actually do it?” someone cleverly suggested, and with that, 2 years quickly rolled by.

20 months, dozens of meetings and countless trial workshops later, we launched the Innovation Kit. What started as a simple blog post had become a complete innovation system, born out of the proven design methodologies of Google, IDEO and Stanford; viewed through the lens of modern Lean and Agile practices, and forged through 15 years of real experience and testing.

We built a pragmatic and practical guide to innovation and used our very own design methodology to create it, the Newicon way. We hadn’t reinvented ‘design’, but we had created a set of engaging workshops, exercises and tools to help people learn and implement design thinking without having to spend years learning theory.

Why did we create it?

The original idea came from working with large, complex organisations like Airbus, who have a history of design engineering and are constantly looking to develop their innovation processes and design thinking.

In a project with Airbus, we were able to introduce agile processes and make rapid progress on one of their most recent innovations. They were extremely pleased with the speed at which we made this progress and we soon realised that there was an opportunity to help the business community with these principles.

The principles are based on agile and lean startup practices, which can be difficult to implement in larger companies but they’re practices we use every day and we’ve learned to help these companies cut through the noise and move through the design cycle at pace.

A new opportunity

20 months after coming up with the original idea, an unexpected opportunity was presented to us. We had assumed that businesses would benefit most from learning design thinking and using our unique set of tools, but we hadn’t realised that we’d also created the perfect training and education tool.

After discussions with the University of the West of England (UWE), we realised that our Innovation Kit would be a great fit for them as well. They wanted to teach engineering (and potentially business) students the value of design thinking and were looking to create a how-to-guide with exercises and workshops. Luckily, that’s just what we had created.

The Innovation Kit for UWE

UWE will be using the Innovation Kit with its 2020-21 engineering student cohort (COVID-19 permitting), to teach them design thinking and boost performance in their Engineers Without Borders programme. Last year, the programme aimed to solve social and civic challenges by creating positive change in communities in Johannesburg, South Africa. This year, they will be tackling an equally important social challenge.

Lisa Brodie, Head of the School of Engineering at UWE Bristol, underlined the importance of this relationship:

“Newicon embodies the kind of company we want to partner with, she said.

We have a comprehensive programme of professional practice to develop students’ skills in the context of engineering problems. UWE Bristol are investing in a multimillion purpose-built School of Engineering opening in Autumn 2020, alongside this, we have a revolutionary redesigned curriculum that nurtures creativity, innovation and collaboration through training on ‘live’ projects and problems. 

Newicon’s approach to design thinking and innovation is the ideal partner for our new curriculum. They will equip our student engineers with practical tools and knowledge in order to succeed in their chosen engineering career. We like working with Newicon because they challenge the way we do things, we know our students will like their approach and they play an important role in supporting the school’s mission and growth.”

We’re currently working with UWE to customise the kit to the students’ needs and we look forward to a series of workshops, exercises and staff-training sessions that will ensure their students learn the best modern design practices.

What next?

We’re extremely excited to see what lies ahead for the Innovation Kit and we look forward to seeing how it will continue to develop across the academic world.

If you know a university that might be interested in utilising the Innovation Kit to help their engineering students, business management students or students of any other discipline please get in touch. We would love to further develop the academic capabilities of the kit.

Additional: Innovation Kit for businesses

We are also still offering remote design thinking workshops and training for businesses. If you’d like to educate your staff, train your management team or start a new, exciting project, please get in touch to see how Newicon and the Innovation Kit can help you.

The Innovation Kit is perfect for businesses and can be run remotely. We have a core programme of workshops and exercises, alongside a variety of other tools that can be customised to your needs. We can provide you with our template design system or pull in the right methodologies, components and exercises for your particular processes, time frame, budget and team. Get in touch to find out how we can customise it for you or why not signup to our innovation kit newsletter to follow our Innovation Kit journey.

I'm Mark Probert

Chief Strategy Officer (CSO) at Newicon

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