The Digital Economy Innovation Centre

Lead Research Organisation: Lancaster University
Department Name: Computing & Communications


This document presents the case for a DTC at Lancaster University, targeting the Digital Economy priority area. Recent government thinking (as witnessed by the Sainsbury, Cox and Denham reviews) highlights the crucial role of innovation and its importance for the future health of the UK economy (including the Digital Economy). We rise to this challenge by proposing a world class, cross-disciplinary and user-centric DTC which places innovation at the heart of its curriculum and ethos. We propose to go beyond traditional multi-disciplinary approaches by seeking a creative fusion between three key disciplines, namely computer science, management and design. The emphasis is on producing a new breed of innovative people who understand and are able to advance the state of the art in technical, design and business innovation (exploring the possible, desirable and feasible). We further propose to align the Centre closely with the needs and goals of industrial producers and consumers of digital innovation (user focus) to ensure the relevance of the PhD programme and to encourage technology transfer/ early adoption of the emerging ideas and knowledge exchange. The DTC will build on the strengths of the InfoLab21 initiative, a recognised leader in technology transfer strategies, in order to seek more valuable and viable technical, social and economic pathways from the laboratory to organisational end-users and producers. The bid also builds on existing support including a Marie Curie Training Network in Creative Design/ Innovation. The long term vision of the centre is to achieve sustainability through partnerships between the university and organisational and customer end users.Key features of the bid include:- A deliberate and distinctive cross-cutting strategy of focusing on innovation as the core of the programme and rooting each PhD within thematic clusters to achieve the desired user focus;- The bringing together of three centres of excellence at Lancaster, namely the Management School, InfoLab21 and ImaginationLancaster with a focus on the resultant creative fusion;- Strong and dedicated leadership offered by 0.5 FTE Director (Prof. Gordon Blair) with significant experience of leadership and postgraduate training;- Location in a new customised space, with value added features such as the Imagination Studio, at a total cost of 10m, building on other investments in the 3 centres of excellence of 38.5m;- Programmes to engage with producers and users of digital innovations, thereby enhancing the student experience through sponsorship, industrial internships and international placements;- Significant focus on SME engagement and their business development, with associated structures and mechanisms becoming a focus for innovation in their own right;- The incorporation of a 12 month Masters of Research (MRes) featuring core modules on innovation, tailorable elements from the three centres, and also a number of ideas factories supporting a refinement from the cross-disciplinary thematic clusters and the definition of MRes and PhD projects; - A requirements-driven transferable skills programme within the 1+3 programme, targeted at industrial needs and capabilities, with the added feature of master classes from inspirational speakers including Sir Chris Bonnington;- Strong programme and quality assurance management, including an emphasis on recruitment.This is a distinctive, bold, imaginative and potentially high impact proposal which can contribute significantly to, and indeed shape, the emerging Digital Economy agenda through its focus on digital innovation. Significant additional contributions are also planned with respect to the Innovation Nation and in particular mechanisms and policies to stimulate innovative thinking in the economy and in society.


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