Responsible Innovation in a Global Context

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What is the Learning Line about?
In the Learning Line Responsible Innovation in a global context you will learn how to develop responsible innovations that are tailored to global contexts. In doing so, you will be introduced to a set of concepts and approaches that you will use in the design and analysis of your innovative ideas/project/product. These innovations include, for example, the development of smart grids, or solar powered applications (such as lanterns, cookstoves, cooling devices) and may include blockchain and GIS based ideas.

How is it organized?
Throughout the 3 quartiles you will work in groups in the Innovation Space on concrete innovations. In your design-work you will be supervised and accompanied by a team of TU/e’s academic staff and social entrepreneurs and business leaders from the private and public sector. Through the involvement of external stakeholders, you will learn about innovations for global markets in practice. Through these encounters, you will also learn to communicate about (your) responsible innovations. The overall aim is to design responsible innovations that make a meaningful difference in the lives of people that live in the global south.

Why is it important?
Innovations are only successful if they incorporate a deep understanding of and respond adequately to the social, political and environmental contexts in which they are to thrive. Starting and engaging with the context ensures that innovations are both impactful and responsible. This context-response-ability is thus a sine-qua-non condition for the development of innovations that aim to make a meaningful difference in people’s lives, both in the global north and south.

Based on this premise, this learning line both cradles and responds to an increasing interest by TU/e students wanting to explore how their ideas could make an impact on people’s lives outside the familiar northern world context. The course will offer you the possibility to professionalize this interest by theoretically and practically introducing you to the development of responsible innovations in and for global contexts.

Give me more details per quartile!

Quartile 1: Context matters!

Quartile 1 aims to establish the insight that context matters for successfully developing responsible innovations. From the beginning you will engage in project work and get started in the Innovation Space right away. In parallel, you will be provided with the necessary theory which underpins your project work.

A series of inspirational lectures and seminars will be given, which provide a “feel and touch” or topic immersion to make the relevance of RI in a global context clear. Through this, a conceptual introduction of key notions will be provided, including Responsible Innovation, the global South and the link (and challenge) between socio-economic development and the role of markets, policy institutions, power dynamics and practices. As you will be engaged from the very beginning in the design of a responsible innovation, you will see how the theoretical insights are crucial for your design decisions.

Supervised by a team from the TU/e and by external business partners and social entrepreneurs you will work in groups in the Innovation Space. While working on your innovation you will relate your work to the consideration of a given set of contextual dimensions (e.g. people, place, practices, policies, power dynamics etc.).

Through this, you will successively concretize your innovation idea by building a specific context-dossier for it. This context-dossier contains essential contextual information that you need to understand when coming up with the design options of your innovation project.

Quartile 2: Make it matter!

Quartile 2 shifts the emphasis even more to the actual design of the responsible innovation idea. In student groups and supervised by an academic and external stakeholder team you will further design the innovation, taking into consideration the diverse contextual aspects identified in Q1.

The working style followed in Q2 is informed and influenced by the so-called “agile scrum” methodology, which is one of the most common product/software development methodologies currently used in the business context. Agile scrum is based on short, iterative development sessions (sprints), each leading to a usable deliverable within a set timeframe. It builds on multidisciplinary teamwork, in which members are asked to develop/use their T-shaped skills (working not only vertically in their specialty/discipline but also horizontally, across specializations). As such it provides an ideal framework for the development of your RI ideas. In addition, it is an ideal possibility to introduce you to a leading working method, which you are likely to use in your future professional work.

Quartile 3: external matters

Two of the classic approaches for making innovations successful are either to further technically optimize the innovation itself or to focus on the context in order to “make it work” for the innovation’s success. In Q3 the focus is on the latter by targeting/changing external factors to increase the success factors of an innovation.

You will be introduced to strategies/approaches which focus on influencing contextual issues, which might promote the innovation’s success. These aspects include governance issues, partnerships, subsidies, changes in regulation/policies, issues of participation/acceptance. Supervised by a lecturer, you will apply these theoretical conceptualizations to your respective RI ideas. In their groups, you will have to come up with specific recommendations for each context dimension that would help to make your respective innovation “land”. This will be worked out and detailed in a strategy book.

As this quartile is also about “touching the world”, you will get in touch with diverse stakeholders working in the field of Responsible Innovation in a global context. Contacts have been established with a range of stakeholders who have indicated interest in contributing to the Learning line.

Through attending guest lectures and site visits you will be exposed to different external stakeholders working in the field of global RI, offering possibilities to discuss and reflect on your own RI designs. Insights gained from these interactions for your innovations will be included in the strategy book.

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