‘Bootcamp:14 – The Innovation Experience Lab’ took place at the beginning of July at Stirling University with a new focus on innovative thinking. After a thorough introduction to the concepts, students worked closely with Scottish Charities and social enterprises on real issues the organisations face. Ann Davidson, SIE Enterprise Programme Director, talks about the rationale behind the revised residential Bootcamp programme and what students got from the experience.
In previous years, SIE’s annual bootcamps have offered students the chance to fast track their business ideas. Whilst proving beneficial to the students in a number of different ways, the format was not without its challenges, with students all at varying stages in the exploration and development of their idea. Many students were highly committed to their ideas but had made the classic mistake of falling in love with their idea and expecting everyone else to do the same, often with no clear idea of who their idea would benefit and the value proposition underpinning it.
The rationale behind this year’s bootcamp was to introduce the students to a number of innovative thinking tools and techniques. Getting them to explore them in practice to develop new products and services with a customer voice at the heart of them. Tools that they could then apply to their own areas of study and interest to look for opportunities for a new venture of their own. Then bringing together the core tenets of human centred design thinking and the business model canvas, they moved on to apply their innovative thinking skills to solving real life challenges for local social enterprises and charities and to find innovation within their existing business models. Getting practical experience of the skills being sought by graduate employers.
SIE often asks its students to play to their edge and SIE was playing to its own edge by changing the established format of its bootcamp, especially when we discovered that by involving social enterprises and charities we had to introduce students to double sided business models and identifying social and economic impacts. Something the students got quickly up to speed on. It is an approach that seems to have worked with student feedback overwhelmingly positive with regard to confidence gained,the development of an enterprising mind-set and problems solving skills, and the ability to work well in teams. Students also left with a personal profile of their key skills and attributes and how they could maximise these in a team situation to bring about greater levels of innovation.
For students with an existing idea , the bootcamp has allowed them to reflect in their own time and to go back and look at the level at which they came up with their innovation. Can they raise that bar by looking to see where the customer’s voice is within their idea? Is there a minimum viable prototype they can get into the wind tunnel to test to destruction before they even choose a possible business model and write their business model?
For students yet to develop an idea, they took away the self-knowledge that their initial idea does not have to be perfect before they look to act upon it and ask for help in exploring and developing it with the help of support networks offered by their HEI and SIE. And, regardless of whether the students go onto set up their own business in the next few months or even years, they all enhanced their employability skills ‘