Innovation & Collaboration Centre – enabling business innovation and growth

Jasmine Vreugdenburg
University of South Australia


 
Abstract

Introduction
Connecting the needs of small business and industry to the core capabilities of a University is challenging when confronted with a large organisation with multiple business models. Finding the ‘front door’ to start the initial engagement process is often the first step in this process.
The Innovation & Collaboration Centre (ICC) is a strategic partnership between the University of South Australia, the South Australian Government and anchor industry partner, Hewlett Packard Enterprise. It provides the ‘Front Door’ for entrepreneurs and small businesses to access the services and expertise of the University as well as providing the space & resources to collaborate and incubate business ideas and new innovations for business growth and expansion.
The ICC is made up of a combination of ‘services providers’ and ‘residents’ who, each contribute to the objectives and aims of the ICC. The service providers based in the ICC, comprise of university and industry experts in the areas of business growth (the Centre for Business Growth); user centred design for innovation and new products/services (matchstudio); innovation and growth through partnerships with research and development (Partnership Engagement Team) and startup support and technology transfer (UniSA Ventures & ICC).
The objectives of the ICC are to:
• Develop and grow the capability of South Australian small to medium enterprises by leveraging both world class Hewlett Packard Enterprise and UniSA knowledge, technology and commercialisation resources;
• Through the resources of the Centre for Business Growth and UniSA, assist ICT-based SMEs by developing an understanding of the enablers, obstacles and processes to support growth;
• Establish a multi-disciplinary environment that provides collaboration and innovative thinking where the ideas of SMEs can be explored and fostered into growth opportunities.
Process
The ICC engages with the business community through the number of activities designed to span the various needs of the organisation and also, align with the various stage of a company’s lifecycle.
The Centre provides a multidisciplinary environment where SME’s, students and entrepreneurs can access a wide range of expertise to help them develop their products and grow their business.
The Venture Catalyst student seed fund provides funding and support to startup companies at the critical survival stage. The Innovation and Growth Seminar series draw on University expertise and aim to translate key research outcomes to the startup and SME community to enable innovation and growth. The Centre for Business Growth target companies in the growth phase and deliver programs and assessments clinics to support CEO’s and executives. matchstudio provides value to companies at various stages of their lifecycle by introducing innovation through their user centred design projects, accessing students as well as research for the creation of new concepts, products and services for industry. UniSA Ventures and the Partnership Engagement Team provide commercial advice and connections to research and development within the University underpinning innovation and development with our industry partners.
Results and Impact
Since the ICC was officially launched in November 2015, it has evolved and transformed from an idea, to a busy centre of activity, working with new companies and welcoming new residents. With a focus on supporting the ideation of new ideas, the incubation of startups, the growth of small to medium businesses and engagement with industry, the ICC has embedded these values into all activities conducted through the Centre.
Over the course of the last 18 months, the ICC has:
• Held more than 70 workshops, seminars and events targeting the startup, SME and broader business community;
• Supported 11 startup companies with either incubation support, mentoring and funding, resulting in the creation of more than 46 new jobs;
• Received more than 2000 people from industry into the Centre through the various activities;
• Partnered with Business SA’s SAYES program to support local entrepreneurial activities in South Australia;
• Received a 92% satisfaction rate from attendees from the Innovation & Growth Series.
Conclusion and Future Potential
The ICC is a unique facility driving innovation, partnerships and entrepreneurship. It is a model based on collaboration between industry, government and the university, which supports businesses to start and provides resources for them to scale and grow. The business model is based on engagement, through an understanding of what drives businesses as well as an understanding of the knowledge, expertise and resources available within the University to support growth.
The model is continuously evolving and adapting to suit the needs of industry. By following the principles and values of a successful business, we regularly seek validation of our services and activities from our end users to ensure our value proposition remains active and purposeful as the needs of businesses evolve.