There is a lot of talk about innovation, but little practical advice on how to actually do it. At the Centre for Design Innovation (CDI) we address this problem by spending a good potion of our time researching how organisations develop innovative products and services. More importantly, we take that research and transfer it into practical tools that are easy to understand and apply. We run workshops and programmes to help you learn how to use these tools in your own organisation; and by utilising Institute resources, work on specific projects with faculty and staff. Most projects are eligible for full or partial funding through Enterprise Ireland.
We are a small part of a much larger resource at IT Sligo, as well as participants in a number of international networks. If we can't help you, we may know someone who can. Even better, talk to some of the companies that have already worked with us.
We have developed a series of highly interactive workshops to help companies understand how to apply a design-led approach to innovation. Currently we run workshops on user-centred design; creating and managing brands; and developing effective services. Instead of a traditional lecture format, you'll be trying practical tools that you can begin using by the end of the session. Most case studies exclusively resort to highlighting large multinational companies. We try to feature relevant case studies of small to medium-sized Irish companies that have used a similar approach to generate value. We practice what we preach and continue to evolve our workshop content based on what works and what doesn't in practice.
We have developed some first-rate workshops. Still, a workshop can be just an invigorating day out if you don’t apply what you have learned. The Innovation by Design programme transfers design thinking skills into the participating companies through highly interactive workshops, practical application and individualised support. Following each workshop, the participants apply the new skills to their own organisations with the help of a Design Associate. Design Associates have cross-disciplinary experience within multiple business sectors and design disciplines. This facilitation and mentoring is key to integrating new skills and participants can request strategic expertise when needed. Companies receive five days of face-to-face time over the course of the programme and the continuous support of the Centre. The first programme successfully completed in 2008 and we are currently registering interest for an expanded programme for late 2009, early 2010.
Seamus McMenamin, MD, Mantis Cranes
Design as I saw it, and what my perception of what design was, and what it would be for Mantis, compared to what I have learned (on the programme) would be totally different. And that would be a positive.
The CDI has developed a rapid-prototyping lab at the Institute of Technology Sligo to help companies visualise their ideas and do iterative, low-cost R&D work. We have the capability to do 3-D scanning, modelling and printing to allow you to do form and function prototype testing. We can create concept packaging to allow you to gain initial feedback from your customers. In addition, we maintain a library of cutting-edge, innovative materials that just might have an application in your project, or perhaps give you an idea you didn't have before.
One of the easiest ways to engage with the CDI and the Institute is through Enterprise Ireland Innovation Vouchers. If you meet the criteria of being a small limited company with a company registration number, you can identify an opportunity or a problem you'd like to explore. The application process is straightforward, and upon approval, you can get a €5000 project funded. Everything you need to know, as well as an application form is at http://www.innovationvouchers.ie.
For larger collaborative research projects, an Innovation Partnership may be more suitable. Enterprise Ireland provides grants of up to 80% towards eligible costs. The proposal process and administration of the project is managed by the Institute.