Innovation in practice: Visiting 3M and Student Hubs
16 February 2018
Postgraduate students from our one-year MSc in Innovation and Entrepreneurship made a site visit to 3M's headquarters in Bracknell and Student Hubs of Oxford to get a first-hand look at innovation in practice.
As part of our one year MSc in Innovation and Entrepreneurship we took our postgrads for a field trip to two fascinating organisations; global science and technology powerhouse 3M at their UK HQ in Bracknell and student-led social innovation charity Student Hubs in Oxford.
We wanted to see how what we've been doing in the classroom was applied in the field by organisations big, small, corporate, charitable, commercial and social.
We go through a lot of 3M's Post-it® notes at the Centre, but they're just one of 55,000 products from a company operating in over 70 countries with over 90,000 staff. This is a company who take innovation very seriously indeed. University of Bristol alumnus Phil Kennedy, now Head of External and Digital Innovation at 3M UK spent the morning with us illuminating how the company have been creating a culture of innovation for over a century.
3M's culture includes their famous 15% allowance for staff to develop their own ideas, career paths and forums for staff to develop and connect up across the organisations' diverse technologies, reward and recognition schemes, and a huge base of knowhow to call upon.
"3M company culture was inspiring, they enabled their staff with opportunities to innovate or as they say 'the secret sauce is making the uncommon connections'."
- Rose S. Tan, MSc Innovation and Entrepreneurship student 2017-2018.
After spending time with Phil and also Paul Corbin their Head of Customer-Inspired Innovation, we took a tour of their Customer Innovation Centre to see just a few of their ground-breaking technologies.
For our students, it was great to hear 3M talking about how they engage with their customers to get insights into new products, how they focus on culture and connectivity to drive invention, and the challenges to staying ahead in innovation over a century of work.
"Being at 3M and having the opportunity to see what they are doing and to ask questions to the experts in their fields, was extraordinarily enriching for my future career."
- Roman Vuchtrl, MSc Innovation and Entrepreneurship student 2017-2018.
In the afternoon we travelled over to Oxford to meet Sara Fernandez who was one of the founding team at Student Hubs, their one-time CEO, and now an expert consultant in social impact measurement.
Student Hubs are a charity running a series of 'hubs' at several UK universities including Oxford, Cambridge, and Bristol. Each hub coordinates a programme of community volunteering, consultancy for charities and social enterprises, and incubating student-led social ventures.
"Sara talked about the challenges of creating organisations that are not just economically viable but socially impactful too. As with 3M, Student Hubs identified culture as a major factor in unleashing innovation, as was engaging meaningfully with customers and stakeholders to generate and act on real insights."
- Dave Jarman, Co-director of the MSc Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
Both meetings gave our masters students the chance to see how our programme of design thinking and customer-centric venture creation is used by real organisations creating real innovation.
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